Sports Medicine
A Crucial Period
Good Pain, Bad Pain
On Your Knees
Secondary Injuries
Imaging Technology
What's Sciatica?
The Female Athlete
Putting Your Feet First
Itis Schmitis
Too Much, Too Soon
Under the Influence
What's Goin' On?
Think Inches, Not Pounds
Preventing Vaginitis
That Painful Pull
Athlete's Heart
Exercise & Arthritis
Chilled to the Bone
Measuring Body Fat
Exercise and Your Breasts
Choosing a Sports Doctor
Lean on Me (Shoulder)
Exercise & Anemia
Exercise Abuse
Pelvis Sighting
Hand Aid
It's All in the Wrist
Back in Action
Altitude Adjustment
Tennis Elbow, Anyone?
Exercising in the Heat
Agony of the Feet
Restless Legs
Night Time Cramps
Birth Control Concerns
No Periods, No Babies?
Post Partum Prescription
Weight Loss Mystery
Undesirable Cooldown
To Brew Or Not To Brew
Fitness After Baby
Biking and Back Pain
Swimmer's Shoulder
A Hidden Athlete
Avoiding Osteoporosis
Drug Testing
Maximum Heart Rate
Headway Against Headaches
Torn Rotator Cuff
Fat Figures
Bloody Urine
Sag Story
Lackluster Leg
Bothersome Bulge
Gaining in Years
Taking It On the Shin
Aching Ankles
Hoop Help
Tender Toes
Meals For Muscle
Growing Pains
Hot Tips
High Altitude PMS
Personal Bests
Air Pollution
Ankle Blues
Heartbreak Heel
Yeast Relief

Athlete's Heart

Just like other muscles; the heart responds to exercise with increased efficiency. Occasionally the changes can be a bit unnerving.

The most important muscle an athlete develops is her heart. Generally as she becomes more fit, her resting heart rate slows - a sign that her heart is pumping blood with greater efficiency. In the first six to 12 weeks of training, resting heart rate decreases by five to 10 percent.

The resting pulse of a trained heart is usually less than 70 beats per minute. Many athletes monitor their heart rates while exercising and while at rest (either immediately upon awakening or after 10 to 15 minutes of inactivity). But sometimes the results are unsettling.

For instance, say you are checking your resting rate after watching TV for 15 minutes, and you notice a skip between beats. You continue to monitor your pulse, now rhythmic and steady; you're not sure if you should dial 911. A while later, the skip occurs again. All thoughts of getting your resting heart rate below 70 are out the window; and you become more concerned with whether you'll survive the night or not.

Skipped heartbeats are usually premature heartbeats - one beat quickly follows another, and the resulting pause in the rhythm of your normal heartbeat is assumed to be a "skipped" beat. Occasional premature beats do occur in healthy people and usually don't indicate a problem unless they're accompanied by chest pain, light-headedness or other symptoms.

If you experience a premature beat more than once every 20 to 30 minutes, however; or if you have an irregular heart rate, palpitations or pauses in your heartbeat, it's extremely important to see your physician. She can determine whether you may have a benign condition called athlete's heart or a more serious problem.

The term "athlete's heart" describes a collection of changes that occur as you train. The two most common findings in trained athletes are bradycardia, or a slow pulse (less than 70 beats per minute), and phasic sinus arrhythmia, a pulse that speeds and slows with respiration.

How common is it to have a pulse that speeds up and slows down when you breathe?

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Table of Contents

Foreword: Billie Jean King

Comments by Barb Harris
Editor in Chief,
Shape Magazine

General Health
Common Medical Problems
Dental Health
Infectious Disease
Sexual Health
Emotional Well-Being
Eating Disorders
Alcohol & Other Drugs
Environmental Health

The information in this web site is for educational purposes only and is not providing medical or professional advice. It should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. If you have or suspect you might have any health problems, you should consult a physician.

Copyright 2000 - Sports Doctor, Inc.