Low blood pressure is not something you normally hear about. At least not in conventional doctors’ offices. I had low blood pressure (BP) for about 10 years and for most of those years I knew it was bad for me. However, even though my BP often went below 100/60 no doctor or nurse had ever mentioned it.
The low BP caused frequent dizziness, especially when I stood up fast. It also sometimes made me feel lightheaded. But there were other effects that I never knew about.
At one point I decided to add 1 TSP of sea salt to my daily water. I did it consistently for 5 days and then something unexpected happened.
I was doing some cardio on the elliptical at the gym, and like always I was wearing my Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor. I'll never forget it. I was pumping away on the machine, there was some overplayed pop song in the background, and the sweat was pouring off my face. As always I went into the highest zone, close to my heart rate max, and stayed there for 2 minutes. Then I slowed down and watched in awe as my heart rate recovered back down to the next zone in 20 seconds.
For those of you that are not familiar, this is a pretty decent recovery time, especially for a 47 year old. But that was not what shocked me. What shocked me was that I had never seen my heart rate recover in less than 50-60 seconds. I had been clocking this for a few years! Now all of a sudden that time was cut to 1/3!
After my workout I went to Walgreens and had my BP measured. It was 120/70. A perfect reading.
A normal BP had transformed my workout and my cardiovascular health! The dizziness and lightheadedness were gone.
After about a month of drinking sea salt in water daily, I was able to reduce it to 1/4 TSP in my smoothie daily and my BP has remained consistently stable at about 117/65.
Besides the hot tip of using sea salt to normalize a low BP and remove dizziness and lightheadedness, this story is important in illustrating how monitoring your heart rate can give you valuable information about your health.
(PS: please do not start drinking salt water daily without speaking to a qualified health professional first)
And this is not the only thing you can monitor.
Knowing your resting heart rate can tell you about your risk for several types of cardiovascular disease1.
Periodically measuring your recovery heart rate time can give you an idea of your risk for all-cause mortality2,
and it may tell you how “old” you are in cardiovascular years3.
Watching your zone recovery times can also tell you how much progress you are making with your workout regime.
And you can use a heart rate monitor to help you do “zone training.”
Zone training is a way of training where you deliberately push your heart rate into defined “zones'“ for certain amounts of time to achieve specific goals.
For example, many people know about HIIT (high-intensity interval training). This is when you go in and out of the two highest (most intense) zones, back and forth, to train your heart to adapt to speeding up and slowing down appropriately. This type of training is awesome because it burns a lot of calories in a short time and it speeds up your metabolism ALL day after your workout.4
Without a heart rate monitor how would you properly train in HIIT?
But we don’t necessarily want to just train in HIIT all the time. That would over-stress your body and most likely cause burn-out, fatigue, and even block weight loss.
Some days we would want to train in a lower zone or moderate zone to stimulate different aspects of our cardiovascular system. Again, how would we do this without a heart rate monitor?
Next week I’m going to write more about this topic and give you more details about how to use a heart rate monitor, which type to buy, and how to train in different zones. All fun stuff!! And super valuable.
And there are many accounts out there of heart rate monitors saving peoples lives!!!