Man, it’s been a while. A while since I’ve exercised, a while since I’ve blogged.
A little over a month ago I started having some intense dizzy spells & started consulting with my physician and a cardiologist to see what the hell was going on. I had a few EKG’s, an exercise stress test (treadmill test), a 24-hour heart rate monitor, and an echo-cardiogram (ultrasound of the heart).
While waiting for all of the tests to be scheduled & then when waiting for the results, I wasn’t allowed to work out at.all. Coupled with all of the time I took off from working out because I
was lazy felt burned out, we’re talking about 6-8 weeks of no workouts. I could take leisurely walks and super easy bike rides, but I wasn’t allowed to get my heart rate up – so no speed walking, mountain biking, running or swimming.
I got the test results today, after several weeks of waiting and wondering and worrying, and I’m happy to report that just about everything is normal, and the dizzy spells have been attributed to a drop in my blood pressure (it has gone down in the last few months). (And I should say that the dizzy spells have gotten better…I only get them now if I stand up REALLY fast after sitting for a long time, or after having my legs crossed.)
The only “problem” the cardiologist found is that my heart rate gets higher faster than is expected for someone my age. Otherwise I’ve been told that my heart is “very efficient”, that my blood pressure comes back down after exertion really well (your blood pressure rises during workouts & then drops back down as you recover), and that the chambers and valves of my heart are functioning completely normally.
While there isn’t anything that is “causing” my higher-than-normal heart rate during exercise, my cardiologist has told me I need to keep my heart rate down while I’m working out.
And by “keep my heart rate down while working out” I mean “don’t let it get any higher than 145-150 beats per minute”.
(Update: I spoke with my doctor the day after I posted this & he agreed it would still be safe for me to let my heart rate get to 155 or 160 bpm during intense workouts. However, to be safe, I’m still going to “target” 145-150 as my maximum effort & know that if I go slightly over that I’m still in an OK.)
That’s going to be a HUGE change for me – my heart rate has always gotten pretty darn high during my workouts. On just about every run I’ve ever taken my heart rate would get as high as 170-180 BPM.
But I’m not surprised that my cardiologist wants me to stay in the range of 145-150 BPM maximum. You see, way back in March when I went through Spinning Instructor training, we calculated our target heart rate zones and my “endurance/aerobic zone”, where I should be completing most of my workouts, came out to be 143-155 BMP.
So the cardiologist’s recommendation is right in line with what I already thought I should be doing. The difference is that now I feel like I actually have to follow through. After spin training I kept the 143-155 range in the back of my mind but would let my heart rate get higher. Now that I have an actual recommendation/target zone from my doctor, I will be watching it and keeping it in check.
In the end, I’m totally relieved to know there’s nothing wrong with my heart. And I’m nervous about starting over…because I know that’s what I’m doing after so many weeks off.
I know that I won’t be able to run any time soon (if ever again) and stay at or below 150 BPM. But cycling shouldn’t be a problem, and even some easy swimming should be manageable.
I just need to build up a base-level of fitness again and see what I can do.