Cancer: No, Pulse: Low

Keeping a Pulse on Cancer

My body is free of cancer, at least as far as my radiation oncologist can tell from a clinical exam — just had a follow-up visit this morning, and I appear to be A-OK, which is great news and all, but even better at the moment is what I learned about my resting pulse (or heart rate).

Right after I was weighed and my blood pressure was taken, my heart rate clocked in at 47. “Oh My Goodness, 47?” said the nurse. “That’s really low.” I guess I knew this, I’m always pretty low, but her surprise threw me for a minute. “Is that OK?” I asked. She told me it’s just fine and asked if I’m a runner. I told her that I am. I mean, I’m not a marathoner or anything, in fact, a 5K is pretty much tops for me. But I do run, and walk, and make often-lazy attempts at push-ups, planks and other body-weight exercises. I guess it all adds up.

“Fit people usually have low resting heart rates,” the nurse told me. I took that as a compliment. Then I came home and found this on Pat Croce’s website:

One of the greatest barometers of your fitness status—that is, your ability to expend energy—is your resting pulse rate. The lower your pulse rate (also referred to as your heart rate), the less energy you expend doing menial tasks and the more energy you keep stored for other activities. Ironically, the best way to lower you resting heart rate is to exercise or engage in physical activity.

On average, the American Heart beats about 70 to 80 times a minute. The active or athletic heart beats around 60 bpm. And the highly trained athletic heart beats in the range of 40 to 50 bpm. For example, it has been reported that Tiger Woods has a resting pulse rate in the low 50’s and my friend Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong—who wrote the Forward for my book 110%—was monitored in the low 40’s. I’m proud to say that my resting pulse rate is in the high 40’s.

Hmmm, “highly trained athletic heart” — not sure about that, but it sure is motivating to know my heart is seemingly healthy. Makes me want to go out for a run. Tomorrow.