Heart Rate Increase During Exercise

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Heart rate is an important indicator for overall health

We all need a good, strong heart.

Indeed, heart rate is an important indicator for overall health, as cardiovascular diseases remain the top cause of death globally. From a health standpoint, we should be exercising more regularly because we need to keep our ticker ticking. For the best results, physical exercise should raise our heart rate up to 50-80% of our maximum heart rate (which is determined by subtracting your age from 220 beats per minute). Sure, everyone can use a little more exercise, but you might wonder, is my heart rate increasing so much during exercise because I lack exercise or because of my genes (or both)?

Do you find that your working-out heart rate is consistently higher than the people you work out with, regardless of the fact that your exercise routine, diet, and many other factors are similar? Heart genetics can determine how quickly your heart rate increases during exercise and how quickly it decreases when exercise is over. 

It may be that your normal heart rate while exercising is simply higher than other people’s. Understanding this aspect of cardiology genetics is extremely helpful in building an exercise routine that is most beneficial to your health. This genetic information can also be useful when you’re discussing your resting and exercise heart rates with your doctor. 

Having a high heart rate while exercising could be falsely read as a sign of poor health, when in fact, it's just a matter of genetics. If you have a medical condition in which a high heart rate is potentially dangerous, understanding this aspect of heart genetics can help doctors prescribe the correct medications and lifestyle changes to manage the disease appropriately. 

But how good is the science behind cardiology genetics? Can we really tell whether a working-out heart rate is likely to be high using DNA analysis?

A large genome-wide association study (the same study as the one referenced for Post-Exercise Heart Rate Recovery Rate) shows that heart rate increase during exercise is actually quite heritable. Investigators also found more than 20 gene loci were significantly associated with heart rate increase and reported that heart rate increase during exercise was highly correlated with heart rate recovery after exercise. 

This research is a strong indication that heart rate while exercising is genetically predictable. If you have a high heart rate when you exercise, it's worth finding out if genetics are the cause. You may be worrying unnecessarily, when in fact, you actually have a normal heart rate based on your genetics. On the other hand, a very high heart rate with genetic influences may not be well-controlled with lifestyle and diet changes. In this case, understanding the genetic influences on your heart rate can help you and your doctor make a better care plan. 

Here's a link to the study to find out more:

Are you genetically predisposed to a quick increase in heart rate during exercise? Check Genomelink to find out!

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