I will never forget Dr. Churchwell telling me “you have the strongest unhealthy heart I’ve ever seen.” He was doing a consultation with my surgeon prior to repairing my congenital heart defect in 2007.
It sounded quite strange but then I realized he was actually complimenting me on my fitness. As he diagrammed the shape of my heart on the small dry-erase board in my hospital room, one side of my heart appeared normal in size, while the other side enveloped the rest of the board.
The side with the hole was really “big”. He said “Once the repair is made the large side will return to normal, and the other enlarged organs will return to normal, as well.” Funny how one little hole was impacting my whole body.
Characterizing me as passionate about heart health is an understatement. God has healed my heart physically and spiritually, and He has taught me the process of pacing myself, tweaking my workouts and listening to my body.
God wants me to have a “big” heart for Him, and His people, while maintaining a healthy heart through exercise. When the physical and spiritual architecture of the heart are in sync, it produces the right beat for a sweet-heart.
On Mondays and Wednesdays, my classes are focused on cardiovascular exercises, and we go in search of the right beat. When choosing the music for the class, the beats per minute really matter. I search the music selections and pick a contemporary Christian CD with between 140-150 beats per minute.
My goal is to keep our heart rate up most of the 60 minutes of exercise. With the Christian music singing a sweet message to the heart, the higher tempo of beats per minute is keeping the hearts in the class physically challenged.
With exercise, especially cardiovascular exercise, I’m all in. What I mean is its full force, sort of like the heart. The heart works twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. That makes it kind of important to the body. If it takes a few minutes off, I’m praising God and arranging fitness classes in heaven.
The average heart beats 72 times per minute pumping blood and carrying oxygen to all parts of the body. When the heart contracts it does so with all its force. The goal is to help my students maximize heart health so they may be fully utilized for the work God has prepared for them.
The seasoned students understand the goal before them as class begins. They have enjoyed the benefits of good heart health and have realized the increased energy level cardiovascular exercise offers. New students are apprehensive but encouraged by those more experienced.
Within a few minutes the student heart rates are climbing, staying in rhythm with fast paced music. As the students follow my pacing, heart rates are elevating to 85% of maximum heart rate. For the newer students modifications are available for the exercises and they work at 50-75% of their maximum heart rate. But what is your maximum heart rate?
Here’s how it is figured. If you are male subtract your age from 220. For females, subtract 88% of your age from 206. The target rate for exercise is considered to be 50 to 85% of your maximum, because you will gain the most benefits and lessen your risk when you exercise in this zone. Swimmers should use a heart rate target of 75% of the maximum and subtract 12 beats per minute since the heart slows down when it is immersed in water.
For instance, Theresa’s target heart rate
88% of 49 (age) =43.12
85% of 162.88=137.7 (Maximum)
Know your maximum and target heart rates before you start. Wearing a heart rate monitor helps in monitoring my heart rate and provides a good idea about the level and intensity of the class.
Exercise is only one part of the story. It is most important we guard our hearts and meditate on God’s word daily. There is no electronic heart monitor to spiritually keep and protect the heart. That is why it is so important to stay in His word.
God tells us in Proverbs 4:20-23 to listen to His words and never let them get away from us. He tells us to keep them in our hearts and they will give life and health to anyone who understands.
Stress, loss, disappointment and heartache can fester and destroy a healthy heart. Take the issues to God immediately and work them out. Do not let them linger and grab a foothold. They can be as destructive as clogged arteries because they can steal hope.
Proverbs 13:12 tells us, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” When we trust Him fully, God turns disappointments into opportunities for joy. He is always working things out for our good and His glory. We can all recall obstacles that He turned into footstools. When things work out, without explanation, you have just experienced the grace of God.
My life has had its up and downs, but I am climbing higher, thanks to Him. My former lack of trust has been replaced with Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your path straight.”
My sweetheart will attest that I am still a work in progress, especially with my stubborn attitude at times. But he and I can agree that only God can heal a broken, disappointed or hard heart. He fills all the holes and tells us so in Ezekiel 36:26. “I will give you a new heart and a new mind. I will take away your stubborn heart of stone and give you an obedient heart.”