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Beat Generation

Resting heart rate isn’t just a classic fitness yardstick. If it’s too high your heart-attack risk jumps 78%. Here’s how to keep your heart in perfect health, whatever your age.

Age 18 – 25: Sleep Easy

Burning the candle at both ends is fun – until you wake up to a defibrillator. Sleep deprivation raises levels of fibrinogen, a blood-clotting protein. So your heart has to work harder. Speak to your pharmacist about options to reduce fibrinogen and resting heart rate (RHR) by six beats per minute (PBM) in two weeks. And get your 8 hours’ sleep: the Xbox can wait.

Age 26 – 34: Raise your Game

Now’s the time to bank your benefits. Your muscle-fiber density is still at its peak but your muscle-fiber recruitment has improved since your early twenties, so you can push yourself harder. This helps you reap the heart benefits of high-intensity aerobic workouts. Run three 30-minute hill sections a week to lower your RHR by up to 10 percent in three months. Alternate 30-second bursts at a hundred percent effort with a minute at 60 percent. A mental workout as well as one for your prime pump.

Age 35 – 44: Load Up

With kids and a career, now is not the time to let your training slip. You lose around five percent lean muscle mass for each decade after 30, which means you’ll find it harder to work at the higher intensities that are most beneficial to reducing RHR. So hit the weights to combat muscle loss. Three times a week do a circuit of 12 lunges, squats, calf raises, hamstring curls, crunches and push-ups. Muscle mass is key to heart health.

Age 45 – 54: Slow and Steady

Madrid University found older runners saw greatest cardio benefits training at low intensities. Fast-twitch fibers have now shrunk by up to 10 percent, so fast intervals aren’t as effective. Work slower and longer to maximize blood flow. Three six kilometer runs a week, at a slow pace, will lower your RHR by three to five percent.

Age 55 – 64: Slow and Steady

Years of saturated fat, salt and alcohol mean fatty deposits in your arteries. Your heart must beat faster to cope. Up magnesium intake to 400mg, to restore arterial elasticity, this lowers RHR by two to three percent. Spinach and almonds are good sources. You could also ask your GP about RHR lowering statins – but they won’t taste as good on salad.

Artery Practice

A ‘good’ RHR throughout your working life is between 62 to 68 BPM, ‘excellent’ is below 55 and ‘dangerous’ is above 80, according to the British Heart Foundation. Your RHR will naturally increase two to five percent per decade. Measure yours by pressing two forefingers into the carotid artery in your neck, below the right underside of your jaw. Do it after waking, lying completely still. For greatest accuracy measure it for 60 seconds on three different days and take an average.

Sandra Prior PhotoAbout Author
Sandra Prior runs her own bodybuilding website at http://bodybuild.rr.nu.

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