Do most of us know our resting heart rate or even know what that means? One of the easiest, and maybe most effective, ways to gauge our health can be done in 30 seconds with two fingers. Measuring your resting heart rate (RHR) — the number of heartbeats per minute while you’re at rest — is a real-time snapshot of how your heart muscle is functioning.
It’s easy to do. Place your index and middle finger on your wrist just below the thumb, or along either side of your neck, so you can feel your pulse. Use a watch to count the number of beats for 30 seconds and double it to get your beats per minute. Repeat a few times to ensure an accurate reading. An RHR between 60 and 100 beats per minute is considered normal for adults.
Or forget all the above and let a Fitbit do it for you. Having never used wearable health or fitness tech before, I was intrigued enough to recently accept an invitation from their European team to join them in Morocco for a four day health and wellbeing retreat they titled ‘House of Fit: Heart Rate Edition.’
The idea for the trip was to put us through various experiences which would take our heart rate into different zones (fat burn, cardio and peak), all tracked by our Fitbits (I used both the Flex 2 and Charge 2). In the luxury surrounds of Villa Palmeraie in the baking Marrakech heat, we were up at the crack of dawn for HIIT classes (fat burn/cardio) with Personal Trainer and Fitbit Ambassador James Stirling followed by a cool down dip in the inflatable hearts filled pool before a nutritious lunch, an afternoon workout, sunset yoga, topped off with a mouth-watering dinner under a moonlit, star-filled sky. And that was just one of the days.
As someone who sleeps erratically (five hours one night, eight hours the next) I’ve been trying to develop healthier sleeping patterns to ensure more consistent energy levels and sufficient recovery time from my regular workouts. My new Fitbit Charge 2 was an instant revelation with its ability to track and record my time in light, deep and REM sleep helping me better understand my sleep quality, and the factors that can impact that quality.
Another one particularly long, deep sleep in Morocco, myself and my fellow fitness warriors took a two hour drive to the base of the magnificent Atlas Mountains to begin an three hour ascent to one of the peaks for an awe-inspiring view across the range. The trek took my heart from the ‘cardio’ zone and at times ‘peak’ as I powered through the more difficult altitude changing sections of the challenge. A nutritious local feast awaited us in a village café before the mountain hugging and at times, hair-raising drive back to the villa.
Food played a significant part in this trip. Rob Hobson, registered nutritionist and co-author of the Detox Kitchen Bible, prepared a delicious feast for us one evening, consisting of dishes designed to benefit heart health. He told us over the four courses: “The quality of your diet is a key determinant in the health of your heart. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to be the most beneficial for heart health. Lot of plant-based foods, oily fish and very little sugar and red meat. Being overweight is a key risk factor for heart disease and excess body fat, especially around the middle can promote low grade inflammation that in the long term can damage organs including those of the heart.”
Rob recommends regular servings of fresh salmon (one of the richest sources of the most essential omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA), oats (contains beta glucans that have been shown to help reduce LDL cholesterol, which is a risk factor for heart disease), avocados (a good source of potassium, which helps maintain fluid balance in the body and maintain healthy blood pressure), garlic (thought to act as an anticoagulant preventing blood platelets from clumping together, improving circulation and reducing the risk of heart disease) and extra virgin olive oil (the king of oils contains omega 9, the main type of which is oleic acid. This fatty acid contains some unique antioxidants known as polyphenols, which are particularly heart-protective as they help reduce blood clotting and balance cholesterol levels.)
Now a convert to the value of wearable health tech, I wear my Fitbit(s) every day (the Flex 2 is waterproof) and have a renewed awareness of the importance of maintaining a healthy heart and what that involves. Next I have to get my hands on the soon to be released Fitbit Ionic.
House of Fit: Heart Rate Edition Workout – designed by James Stirling
All 1 minute of work
No rest between exercises
Followed by 1 minute of rest between sets
Giant Set 1:
TRX Row (Back)
Repeat 3 times
Burpees – 1 min
Giant Set 2:
Split Lunge 30 Secs change leg
TRX Jump Squats
Burpees – 1 min
Repeat 3 times