Limited Heartbeats?

by Joe Lawrence | September 9th, 2008 | Cardio, Eating Tips, Exercises, Family Fitness, Running, Strength Training

“Why would you want to work out? Don’t you know that you only have a limited number of heartbeats before you kick the bucket?” Ah, the finite heartbeat theory that is often the last line of defense for those opposed to fitness. I heard this excuse numerous times during my tenure as a military physical training leader. The theory (aka line of total crap) is that you only have so many heartbeats and by working out you use them faster because you increase your heart rate. To the untrained eye this is a decent theory, and most people have no true comeback – until now.

According to the American Heart Association the average resting adult’s heart rate is in the range of 60-80 beats per minute (BPM) while you are not going through any physical exertion. The more fit the person, the lower the resting heart rate. With that out of the way, let’s run some numbers.

We will assume person A (Alphie) works out three days a week for 30 minutes. He is a fit 25 year old and has a resting heart beat of 60 BPM. In a 24-hour period, his heart beats about 86,400 times. Now factor in a workout day. Here Alphie gets his heart rate to the recommended target heart rate of 166 BPM for optimal cardio benefits. These days total 87,810. On a given week he is at 609,030 heart beats…whew!

It is time to take person B (Bob), who is also 25 and does not work out at all. His resting heart rate is 80 BPM. In a given day, his heart beats about 115,200. That is 27,390 beats more than Alphie on a workout day! Bob’s heart beats 806,400 times in one week. I think we can all agree that the finite heart beat theory is worthless.

Why does this matter? Today I was working out with someone who likens Bob. We were both at the target heart rate of 156 BPM for 25 minutes. However, I was able to go one mile further utilizing the same effort.

  1. Bob says:

    to compare weather two people in which 1 exercises and 1 doesn’t you would need to start them of at the same level which means the same fitness and as such both of them would need to have the same resting heart rate.the experiment can only truly start from there…

  2. Frank says:

    please explain why most of my friends of same age who run, workout, or whatever, seem to have heart related problems while, I sitting on my butt, remain hale and hardy. I’m not wasting my breaths and heartbeats for nothing!

  3. Joe Lawrence says:

    Are you seriously questioning the value of fitness, Frank? I am not a doctor and can not explain why some people have heart problems and others don’t. I only can go off of statistics and personal experience. It would be interesting to see stats that prove me wrong. I am also waiting for the stats to prove that seatbelts are dangerous because some random person was stuck in a car and died when they wore it. This is the same type of statement that you are making here.

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All health and fitness information is provided for educational purposes. Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise regimen.