I am a huge proponent of being proactive and seeking to prevent problems before they develop. A healthy heart is critical to overall health and a long, active life. Most of us are familiar with checking blood pressure to stay on top of that cardiovascular marker. You can easily purchase a blood pressure monitor and keep track of it at home, which is what my husband does.
But are there any other ways to monitor your heart health at home? Here are two more ways. You can check your resting heart rate, which is the number of times your heart beats per minute while at rest. This is an indicator of how fit your heart muscle is, and how well it can handle stress. A normal resting heart rate for the average person ranges between 60-100 beats per minute. A rate on the lower end is generally considered a sign of better cardiovascular health.
You can check your resting heart rate with a wearable fitness tracker or an Apple Watch, though the accuracy can vary quite a bit. You can also check your own pulse with your fingers. The best time to do it is first thing in the morning, before you’ve had coffee or even gotten out of bed.
Place two fingers on the thumb side of your wrist between the bone and tendon, or on your neck at the side of your windpipe, until you can feel a pulse. Watch a clock with a minute hand, and count how many beats you feel over 15 seconds. Multiply that number by 4 to get your total beats per minute.You can also use a pulse oximeter, like this one, which is what I use. A plus with this one is it also measures oxygen saturation level.
One I’d not heard of before is called the stairs test, sort of an at-home version of an exercise stress test. While it isn’t totally scientific, it will give you some information and I’m all for that.
Participants in this study were asked to quickly climb four flights of stairs while their time was recorded.Climbing the stairs in under a minute was correlated with better exercise capacity scores. Those who took longer than a minute and a half to climb the stairs had lower exercise capacity scores and were twice as likely to have shown abnormal heart function during the traditional treadmill test.
So in order to test yourself, find a building with four flights of stairs and climb them as fast as you can, without running or stopping, while tracking your time. According to the researchers, if your time is under a minute, that’s a sign of a healthy heart. If it takes more than a minute and a half, you should probably get checked out by your doctor.
What do you think about these ways to monitor your cardiovascular health?
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