Limited Heartbeat Hypothesis

 

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I recently came across a theory called the “Heartbeat hypothesis”. It basically suggests that every living creature has a limited number of heartbeats before death/failure occurs. Also, several studies have shown that a lowered basal heart rate equates to longevity.

Some people have taken this heartbeat hypothesis and applied it in a very interesting way.

“So if I don’t do any physical activity and keep my heart rate low, I should be enjoying a longer life! Exercise like running increases my heart rate to crazy levels over long periods. I am sure to die earlier by exercising!”

The above does sound rather logical but it doesn’t take into account the lower basal heart rate that fit and healthy people enjoy. We also don’t really need a lot of time doing exercise anyway.

I had a rather sedentary lifestyle in February and didn’t run at all for 6 months before that.  As for now, I am running an average 271 minutes a week, which is tougher and way higher than the health ministry’s recommended 150 mins of moderate-intensity cardio exercise.

Here’s a simple but fair comparison of myself to find out the amount of beats my heart had over a period of 30 days.

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There are many real world factors that can influence both numbers in bold, but most of them only make the gap between the two larger. For example, walking used to raise my heart rate to about 110 but I hover around 90 now. Same activity, less effort.

Increase fitness also made my heart recover to resting rates much faster. A 800m dash to 178 beats per minute (bpm) would have needed 400m of light jogging before I recover to 136 bpm. Now, I get to 136 bpm in 150m.

So if you do believe in the heartbeat hypothesis, why not pick up a good cardio exercise like running and watch your resting/basal heart rate plummet in the best of ways?

Humans Were Evolved To Lift Weights

 

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About 400,000 years ago, the first ancestors of the anatomically modern humans appeared. These humans needed the means to hunt and to survive. Since weapons were not invented till about 200,000 years later, they gathered every day to do push-ups, lift heavy rocks, and did pull-ups on low hanging branches. After gaining a lot of strength, they wrestled animals to the ground for meat and punched predators in the faces to survive.

Haha! No.

We hunted by running. We survived by running.

Without weapons, we can only get animal protein by scavenging carcasses. That wasn’t enough as the other scavengers are much stronger than us. We can’t run as fast as a cheetah, but over long-distances, there is not one animal that can beat us. We ran animals down and ate them for protein to evolve our brains and body.

There was nothing to use for defense except for sticks and stones, and that wasn’t much. We survived by running, climbing and hiding.

We ate just enough to fuel ourselves and kept our bodies lean. Being lean ensures that you don’t waste energy carrying excessive weight in fat or muscle. Being lean makes you faster. Being faster gets you more meat and keeps you alive.

Everyone ran. The men, the women, the children and even the old. You had to or else you wouldn’t be able to eat or to stay alive.

Even after the first weapons came about, you still had to run to club or spear an animal to death. Tools are useful, weapons are clever. They made our lives easier but they also slowly took away the very reason why we survived.

It is simple. You and me, us humans, survived as a species because we ran and we were bloody good at it too.

Go. Run.

(This article is not intended to make fun of weight lifting. Weight lifting gives nice bodies and strength. I’m trying to say that running was and is more important in the context of survival.)

Everyone Has The Ability To Run A Gold Timing For IPPT

The 2.4km run. The bane of many SAF regulars, NSFs and NSmen. It’s pretty much the most hated segment of the IPPT (Individual Physical Proficiency Test).

“Why can’t I run fast enough?” is the question that most ask.

It’s also the question that leads to people treating every training run like it’s an IPPT test.

“If I run as fast as I can each time I train, I should be able to run faster.”

What if I said that it’s not your speed that is the problem?

It’s not as straightforward as what I am going to say below but do hear me out.

Any untrained individual can probably run 100 metres in 15 seconds or less. Let’s just say that you are really that slow and can only manage it in 20 seconds.

2,400 metres / 100 metres * 20 seconds = 480 seconds = 8 minutes.

So you, the “slowpoke”, can theoretically run a 2.4km in 8 minutes! In case you have been living under a Singapore rock, 8 minutes for 2.4km nets you a Gold award in every category.

You don’t lack speed. You lack stamina. You lack the stamina to maintain a pace of 20 seconds per 100 metres for the distance of 2.4km.

So, work more on your aerobic ability and not spend all your time on anaerobic runs! The long-distance running guidelines are perfect for the IPPT run. 80% of runs should be done slow. The other 20% can be spent on your fast runs like intervals, tempos and fartleks.

Of course you still can improve doing fast runs all the time but you risk over-training, injuries and most of all, you waste efficiency.

Good luck for your next IPPT!

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5 Reasons Why It’s Better To Run In The Mornings

For as long as I can remember, I preferred to run at night or in the evenings. Waking up is a chore and waking up early to run is a bigger one. It’s also perpetually summer all year-long where I live – in sunny Singapore – so it’s comfortable to run at night.

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So why do I run in the mornings now?

#1 – Fresher Air

Parks are irritatingly small for distance running so I run a lot on roadsides. The air in the mornings have lesser vehicular exhaust, dust and whatever impurities that is kicked around after the rush hour in the evenings.

#2 – Backup Plans

There are times when it’s impossible to run safely due to thunderstorms or haze so it’s so much better to plan for a morning run and have the choice to switch it to a night run if the weather is really bad.

#3 – More Energy

We all know how tiring school or work can be, and even if you overcome the mental barricades to step out for a run after a long day, your body might not perform well for the run due to fatigue. I know I can do runs up to 1.5 hours on an empty stomach and if I need more fuel for a longer run, I just wake about 30 – 40mins earlier to consume something.

#4 – Better Diet & Sleep

Having to wake earlier means having to sleep early and you don’t have to read much to know that it’s good for the body.

Post-workout nutrition is important so I used to end up having late meals after a night run. It’s quite unhealthy and difficult to sleep early with a full stomach and a post-workout body state.

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day and what better way to indulge after a morning run?

#5 – Getting it Out of the Way

This has to be the biggest reason for me to switch. I spent as much as 2 hours each time, running about 4-5 days a week and that means sacrificing time with my fiancée; and she wasn’t too happy about it. Having my runs in the mornings ensures that I have a “normal” life to do things in the evenings. To her, it doesn’t even seem that I am not around on the weekends as I finish the runs before she wakes up.

 

It’s tough to wake up early to run in the mornings and depending on your work or school, you might even need to wake up at 4 – 5am to squeeze in a run. I realize that waking up early is not the most difficult thing about this change; sleeping early is. All the electronics that I use before bedtime keeps me up and I have to overcome it by having a routine to make myself sleep earlier.

Good luck if you are trying to make a switch! Do share any tips to help with waking or sleeping earlier.