Slow Down My Beating Heart

Your heart is a strange organ. I don’t refer to its ability to make poor choices in people, an outcome of which you may undergo hardship. Instead, I refer to its physiological makeup and how it functions. The primary role of your heart is to pump blood. To do this, it takes in blood through arteries. The surface of your heart has arteries connected to it. These arteries then branch to enter the chamber of your heart. It is here that the blood is released to allow the pumping action to occur. So far so good. In a bizarre turn of events, the ability of your heart to allow the blood to flow in occurs only at rest; when it is not beating. The volume of blood taken in therefore is a function of how long your heart is at rest.

This strange fact opens up a Pandora’s box. Let us imagine that you are stressed. Your heart will beat faster to compensate. A heart that is beating faster means you are allowing in less blood. However, your body also needs more oxygen to bring your body back into harmony. These two forces are now acting in contradiction. The situation you find yourself in is the point at which training comes handy.

Imagine you have been diligent about training the muscles of your heart through exercise. Assume you spend a significant part of your time meditating and calming your mind which lowers your heart rate. Both have prepared your heart to take in and pump the same volume of blood with larger periods of rest in between (a lower heart rate). It is this that will help you deal with a crisis better instead of binge eating. You just spent all those months preparing your heart for the worst. Who knows, it might even magically start making better choices in people.



Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.