Monthly Archives: April 2014

Heart Rate

The health experts say you should exercise enough to get your heart rate up to 50% to 85% of your maximum heart rate in order to be healthy. First you’ve got to figure out what your resting heart rate is but they tell you it is somewhere between 60 and 80 beats per minute.

I tried to check that using my cell phone stopwatch. Isn’t technology wonderful? I used to be happy if a watch would just keep running and tell me the time. That never happened until digital watches came out because some hereditary gene which I got from my daddy would seep through my skin and kill the watch within just a few hours of my buying and attaching the watch to my body. It didn’t even matter what kind of attachment that was either. I once bought a watch that was a pendant and it hung on a chain around my neck. I hoped it would not touch actual skin and therefore it would be exempt from the family gene curse, but no, that watch stopped working just as quickly as my wristwatches had always done. So for many years I was resigned to depending “on the kindness of strangers” ( for the time. But now I have a smart phone that can do almost anything short of housecleaning and I can not only tell the time using it, but I can measure how far I have walked for how long and I even get a “Way to go!” from some famous athlete sometimes. Most of the time, not being an athlete myself, I don’t know who that famous person is, except for Tim Tebow (, but Nike ( paid him/her to “Way to go” me so I figure he/she surely knows if what I did is worth the compliment.

So follow me back to my heart rate if I haven’t wandered too far of the conversational path for you because sometimes I tend to do that getting around to the end of the story. This morning I decided to check my heart rate with my phone and I looked at that website up at the first paragraph and it told me how to do it. You put your pointer finger and your middle salutation finger together on the wrist of your opposite hand right below the thumb and feel for the beat. Then you set your stopwatch running for ten seconds and count your heartbeats. Just multiply by 6 and that gives you the number of times your heart is beating per minute. The only trouble with this is, if you have your one hand attached to your other hand, it is a little tricky pushing the stopwatch to start without taking your two fingers off the beat, but I figured out how to reach the start button with my salutation finger of my left hand without detaching my two right hand fingers from my beat, so it is possible, give it a try!

I got 60 which is the low end of the resting heart rate but it is in the range. So then, following the directions of heart-dot-org I subtracted my age (67) from 220, the number they said to use without any explanation of where it came from, and I got my maximum heart rate which is, if my right brain math is correct, 153. Looking at their chart it matches up closely with 65 to 70 year olds, so I figured it was close enough. The website said to start slowly so I figured 50% of that would be 76.5.

If my max had been 154, I wouldn’t have resorted to the calculator on my smartphone, but just in case my long division was off, I double-checked and that number is right. So now I know how much to exercise in order to raise my heart rate so I can live long and apparently prosper as well.

The final step, of course, is the exercise. This brings me to the reason I am writing this post in the first place. The other day I figured out how to raise your heart rate without ever jumping one jack, skipping one rope, climbing one stair…. I was driving down the road, just one left turn (and though this isn’t about left turns, I have a whole nother story about those) from the road where I live. This road is a bike route. I got behind a bike. Now I will follow a bike rider for miles at 5 miles an hour without passing. I will turn on any other road to keep from endangering the biker’s life. I try not to detest bike riders as much as I do insane squirrels that commit suicide under my car tire no matter how I swerve to miss them. In theory I soooo believe in the bike rider’s right to ride on our roads and to save gasoline and the planet at the very same time. I do. I really do. But I am so scared I will hurt one of them that I have a hard time remembering the planet when I get behind one of them. So the other day there I was at a very rare space on the road when there was no road to turn on and no car coming at us for the pretty long distance that I could see and so this once, I took a chance.

You guessed it. You know me well, don’t you! As soon as I speeded up and started to pass, a car came over the little hill that was so small I didn’t even know there was a dip in the road and aimed right at me. I had to gun it in what my son used to label as Marie Andretti mode (I deny ever having been that person) and whip back into my rightful lane. I don’t know which of us– the oncoming car, the bike rider, or I– had the choicest words for one another, but I do know that this is one way to raise your heart rate without going to the gym.

I don’t recommend it.