Think you’re pretty well-schooled on what makes your ticker tick? Sure, you took anatomy class, perhaps studied the human body in your science courses and totally remember the names of the four chambers of your heart. You’ve got down pat the roles of arteries and veins, and understand that your heart is responsible for pumping blood to your entire body. You know that exercise makes the heart-healthy list, and twice-a-day doughnuts definitely do not. During American Heart Month, we like to pause to pay homage to this tireless organ who keeps us alive by endlessly working every minute of every day. To celebrate the heart, we’d like to share some facts about your heart that might surprise even you, Hearty Smarty.
- With each beat, your heart pumps two to three ounces of blood. That works out to 2000 gallons per day. In fact, the heart is constantly pumping those gallons of blood to nearly all of the 75 trillion cells in your body. Only the corneas do not receive blood from your heart.
- Every day the heart generates enough power to drive a truck for 20 miles. If the heart’s energy were converted to electricity, your heart could do the grocery run and back without a gas-stop.
- This hardest-working muscle in your body cannot fatigue. Your heart can get weak for other reasons, but it does not get tired from its daily job. To get a true appreciation for its endurance, imagine trying to squeeze a tennis ball in your hand (this is comparable to the force of a beating heart) 100,000 times a day, every day. Amazing, considering that your heart starts beating four weeks after conception, and doesn’t stop beating until you die.
- The sappy love songs are right, after all – strong emotions really can “break your heart.” Under extreme sadness or stress, “takotsubo cardiomyopathy” can take place, which paralyzes a large portion of the heart. This event mimics a heart attack, and affects mostly women in their 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. Fortunately, there is usually no lasting heart damage from this temporary condition.
- Do two hearts really beat as one? Scientists at the University of California attached heart rate monitors to couples in love, and found that their breathing rates and heart rates would synchronize when they were seated near each other. It was found that the woman’s heart rate would adjust more to match that of her partner’s. When seated near strangers, there was no matching of heart rate detected in the participants. A heartbeat synchronization has also been found between friends or relatives when test subjects watched a loved one experience a stressful situation.
During American Heart Month, while we sing praises to the hard-working dynamo inside us, we also need to pause for a grim reality. Heart disease continues to be the number one cause of death in men and women in our country, claiming 1 in 4 deaths. However, eating a low-sodium diet that is rich in heart-healthy foods, exercising and keeping your stress levels in check can dramatically increase your cardiac well-being. Heck - even learning more about your heart can decrease your own chance of developing heart disease. Now that you’ve got a few more facts in your heart-smart arsenal, you can be the bearer of heart health to the ones you love.
At Fitness Together®, we can help you get started on a heart-healthy exercise plan with our certified personal trainers. Our studios also offer an opportunity to increase your knowledge of heart-healthy nutrition with our science-based nutrition program, Nutrition Together®. To learn more about both, find a studio near you: http://fitnesstogether.com/find-a-studio