Luckily, I had the opportunity to go to the doctor this week. There is nothing like a waiting room, filling out general paperwork that makes a Facebook quiz feel like working with Play-Doh, and kicking it old school in the exam room for an hour and a half to pass time on a Monday afternoon. I did not really mind the wait. After I finished my book, I took a power nap—these early mornings at Extreme Boot Camp wear me out.
“Is your pulse always that low?”
Terrified, I looked up at the monitor: 48.
I racked my brain for seventh grade science class with Ms. Ellis, who I am sure covered normal heart-rates along with teaching us to make crystals, dissecting frogs, and showing us The Miracle of Life. Unfortunately, nothing regarding what a good heart rate was came to mind except the most basic of notions.
“Isn’t it supposed to beat once per second?” I asked. Now, I’m not a math whiz, but I did notice that 48 is conspicuously lower than 60, and that number seemed darn low.
“Typically. Do you do a lot of cardio?” she asked.
“Well, I was at Extreme Boot Camp this morning. And I run.”
“Bingo! You have a runner’s heart.” She shuffled some papers around and then took my weight.
A runner’s heart. Who knew that even existed? I feel a little bit like a superhero.
Apparently, engaging in aerobic activity lowers your resting heart rate. What does this mean? In layman’s terms, it means that your heart is thumping more effectively to push blood around. So you have a larger heart capacity.
I take this news to mean my heart is capable of more both literally and figuratively. I have always wondered at my ease with which I care for people I have just met, my willingness to go the extra mile to be helpful, and why when I love I feel like it takes over the entirety of my body, as if each piece of me were wrapped up in the emotion. And I guess it is because my heart is ready for it. My heart wants it.
Of course, I told Ken about my superhero heart when I came home. He looked at me and said, “I knew that.”
“How?” I asked.
“When I have my head on your chest, I can tell your heartbeat is slower.”
Weird. And to think I’m always worried that it’s flapping around like a butterfly trying to dry off her wings when he is around.
For more really good scientific information on a runner’s resting heart rate, click here.
And if you want to read my newest StudentStuff post, click here and read this teaser…
Imagine you are at Student Health for a sprained ankle, and amidst filling out paperwork and being tested for mono (why is it impossible to go to the health center without being tested for that?), you are asked to remove your cardigan and let a black cuff be fastened to your upper arm with Velcro. A tight squeeze and slow release of pressure later, a machine spits a number out in your general direction. A nurse nods, maybe mumbles “Mmm-hmm,” and you are passed on to the doctor. What just happened? What do those spit out numbers mean?