Tag Archives: health

Electromagnetic Radiation Effect on Sleep

Does electromagnetic radiation emitted from modern digital devices affect sleep? This article explores and describes electromagnetic radiation effect on sleep based on scientific evidence. Read on to find out.

In an earlier post, I described the effect of blue light emitted from laptop or tv screens to sleeping patterns. But knowing this and taking action to prevent exposure to blue light apparently is not enough. I still had difficulty sleeping despite reducing my exposure to blue light. Blue light reduces melatonin levels thus disturb sleep.

I thought emissions from the WiFi adapter in my laptop might have something to do with my insomnia. So I hooked the laptop and the router together using a 10-meter RJ-45 cable run through the ceiling. I then switched off the built-in WiFi adapter on my laptop to a wired internet connection. Apparently, I slept soundly because of this change.

My experience could be considered an anecdotal evidence that the emission of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) can affect sleep. I thought my observation can lend support from the scientific literature. Hence, as is my usual routine, I browsed Google Scholar for relevant research on electromagnetic radiation effect on sleep.

Is there a relationship between EMR and sleep? What does research say about the electromagnetic radiation effect on sleeping patterns? Are they related at all?

Electromagnetic Radiation Effect on Sleep

The following five papers that describe the electromagnetic radiation effect on sleep can be convincing enough.

1. Chronic (or long-term) electromagnetic field exposure causes abnormal tissue death in the brain. It also causes lung damage, paralysis, muscle tremors, and bone pain (Worthington 2007).

2. Residents exposed to electromagnetic radiation from telecommunications towers suffer insomnia. In addition, they noted other non-specific health symptoms. These symptoms include headache, giddiness, loss of memory, diarrhea, mental slowness, reduced reaction time and mood swing (Suleiman 2014).

3. Radiation from cell phone base station affects the adrenal glands. The glands stimulate the production of adrenalin and cortisol. Excess adrenaline causes insomnia (Goldsworthy 2012).

4. Electromagnetic radiation from network routers can disturb sleep (Stein 2015).

5. Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF EMF) before sleep alters brain activity thus affect sleep (Regel 2007).

These findings demonstrate dose-response relationship. This means that small doses of EMR may not cause health problems. But larger doses can produce health symptoms upon reaching a certain threshold level. The present youth are particularly vulnerable, as their life revolves around the use of these gadgets either for serious school work or at play.

electromagnetic radiation effect
Radiation dose chart

Steps to Avoid Electromagnetic Radiation Exposure

One of the papers recommended that governments should impose new regulations on EMR-emitting communications infrastructure. Locating cell phone stations away from densely populated regions can reduce health risk. Chronic or long-term exposure to EMR-emitting gadgets such as cellphones, tablets, laptops, among others in the information age should be avoided.

To reduce electromagnetic radiation effects on your health, take the following steps:

1. Avoid using your electronic gadgets close to your body. Use an earphone when calling someone.

2. Connect to the internet using a cable as much as possible. If you can do so, switch off your WiFi adapter. The adapter emits more radiation the distance increases from the router. Weak router signals mean more electromagnetic radiation emitted by your gadget’s receiver.

3. Avoid going to places where people converge and use their cell phones such as malls and buses.

4. Do not sleep with your cell phone on and next to you.

5. Do not put your cellphone in your pocket. EMR has been known to cause infertility problems.

6. Avoid living near cellphone base stations. If living near one, block your house from incoming radiation with reflective aluminum insulation and painted walls.

7. Inform others about the health effects of electromagnetic radiation. Encourage them to take action so that emission of EMR in your workplace or community will be reduced.

The worry of the future generation is not about visible air pollution as environmental technology gradually keeps it at bay. Invisible radiation, due to our modern communications systems, is a threat that now shows its symptoms.

What you can’t see can harm you.

References

Goldsworthy, A. (2012). Cell phone radiation and harmful effects: Just how much more proof do you need?.

Regel, S. J., Tinguely, G., Schuderer, J., Adam, M., Kuster, N., Landolt, H. P., & Achermann, P. (2007). Pulsed radio‐frequency electromagnetic fields: dose‐dependent effects on sleep, the sleep EEG and cognitive performance. Journal of sleep research, 16(3), 253-258.

Stein, Y., Hänninen, O., Huttunen, P., Ahonen, M., & Ekman, R. (2015). Electromagnetic Radiation and Health: Human Indicators. In Environmental Indicators (pp. 1025-1046). Springer Netherlands.

Suleiman, A., Gee, T. T., Krishnapillai, A. D., Khalil, K. M., Hamid, M. W. A., & Mustapa, M. (2014). Electromagnetic radiation health effects in exposed and non-exposed residents in Penang. Journal of Geoscience and Environment Protection, 2(02), 77.

Worthington, A. (2007). The radiation poisoning of America. GlobalResearch. ca, October, 9.

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (May 14, 2016). Electromagnetic Radiation Effect on Sleep. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from http://simplyeducate.me/2016/05/14/electromagnetic-radiation-effect-sleep/

The Computer Vision Syndrome Epidemic: Are You a Victim?

What is computer vision syndrome? What happens when someone is afflicted with this syndrome? Is there something you can do about it? This article provides answers to these questions.

Are you a regular computer user? Since you are reading this article, chances are, you are one of those who spend most of their waking lives in front of the computer. It seems everyone could not dispense of their laptops, desktop, tablets, or cell phones. They need to keep up with the latest news, do some work, communicate with friends, search for literature, and many other things possible with that shiny liquid crystal display (LCD) or Light Emitting Diode (LED) screen.

But do you know that by staring at your gadgets for a long time can make you sick? You are at risk of getting a sickness that gradually becomes common among computer users nowadays. Doctors call this modern malady computer vision syndrome or CVS. According to Wimalasundera (2006), millions of new cases occur each year.

I learned about this health condition while searching an explanation for the pain I experience at the back of my ear whenever I spend hours writing articles, searching the literature for my lessons, and answering the endless flow of emails to answer official queries, friends, and monitor the progress of research projects. Probably, I am spending more than eight hours a day to do all these things. Well, the pain stopped when I reduced the time I devoted in front of my laptop.

What is CVS and what are its symptoms? I gathered the following information after a search through online literature. This time, I used Google Scholar to pick up information from refereed journals recognized for their reliability.

Computer Vision Syndrome Defined

Blehm et al. (2005) and Yan et al. (2008) describe computer vision syndrome as a health condition characterized by a collection of symptoms including eyestrain, tired eyes, irritation, redness, blurred vision, double vision, and neck and back pain. Recently, Khalaj et al. (2015) added dizziness as a symptom. All of these symptoms relate to the eyes.

The primary symptoms of CVS appears to be dry eye, as computer users seldom blink as they stare onto computer screens. But other authors say the primary symptoms include eyestrain and monitor glare (Khalaj et al., 2015). There appears to be no consensus for this understudied area among the authors. Much more research needs to be done to clarify the issue.

Despite the dearth of literature on this subject, scientists believe that the symptoms of CVS arise because of poor lighting. Inadequate ambient light makes people squint in making out the characters on their computer screen while highly reflective screens diffuse too much light that tire the eyes. Also, eyes focused too close to the screen, faulty eyeglasses, bad seating posture, too many tasks to do using computers, reduced variation in eye movement, or a combination of these factors, are contributory factors.

How can you avoid CVS?

Based on the likely causes, the following practices are recommended to frequent computer users to prevent CVS:

1. Blink more. Consciously blink your eyes periodically while using the computer. Blinking is a natural way to protect your eyes from infection, thus prevent dry eyes. If you do have dry eyes, omega-3 fatty acids can help alleviate symptoms. Rashid et al. (2008) conclude that topical alpha-linolenic acid treatment led to a significant decrease in dry eye signs.

2. Sit on an ergonomic chair. It pays to invest a little in a computer chair that support the spine of the back. Add a bamboo pad or similar material to prevent your buttocks from heating up and cause other health problems if you spend too much time seating on a chair.

3. Replace your old pair of glasses. Change your eyeglasses if they have been with you for more than two years. Optometrists recommend changing glasses once a year. Faulty eyeglasses may be the source of your frequent headaches.

4. Rest. Nobody undermines the importance of rest in any activity. All work and no play make Johnny a dull boy. If you likewise use the computer at play, then you need to change the game you play into something that can wean you away from your computer. How about inviting your friends and go out to take some interesting pictures in a famous tourism site?

5. Have enough light. Adjust the lighting conditions in your work area so you can read fonts better on your computer screen.

6. Move your eyes. Gaze away from the computer screen once in a while to give your eyes time to rest and refocus. Optometrist Roger Phelps recommends the 20-20-20 rule. The number represents 20 minutes of computer use and looking at something about 20 feet away for 20 seconds. The older you are, the shorter should be the time devoted to computer use.

The point of the whole matter is that you avoid spending too much time in front of the computer or your electronic gadgets. Spend time mingling with friends, physically, to establish bonds no computer can ever replace. You gain not only your health but food for your emotions.

References

Blehm, C., Vishnu, S., Khattak, A., Mitra, S., & Yee, R. W. (2005). Computer vision syndrome: a review. Survey of Ophthalmology, 50(3), 253-262.

Khalaj, M., Ebrahimi, M., Shojai, P., Bagherzadeh, R., Sadeghi, T., & Ghalenoei, M. (2015). Computer Vision Syndrome in Eleven to Eighteen-Year-Old Students in Qazvin. Biotechnology and Health Sciences, 2(3).

Rashid, S., Jin, Y., Ecoiffier, T., Barabino, S., Schaumberg, D. A., & Dana, M. R. (2008). Topical omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for treatment of dry eye. Archives of Ophthalmology, 126(2), 219-225.

Wimalasundera, S. (2006). Computer vision syndrome. Galle Medical Journal, 11(1), 25-9.

Yan, Z., Hu, L., Chen, H., & Lu, F. (2008). Computer Vision Syndrome: A widely spreading but largely unknown epidemic among computer users. Computers in Human Behavior, 24(5), 2026-2042.

Cite this article as: Regoniel, Patrick A. (November 28, 2015). The Computer Vision Syndrome Epidemic: Are You a Victim?. In SimplyEducate.Me. Retrieved from http://simplyeducate.me/2015/11/28/computer-vision-syndrome/

Do You Know that the Computer Can Disturb Your Sleeping Patterns?

For those who lack sleep due to computer overwork, here is an article for you. Take control of your sleeping patterns by getting rid of the blue light emanating from your computer. 

What does the blue light do to your brain and how does it affect your sleep? Listen to the video and appreciate how research findings can improve the quality of your sleep and affect your way of life in general.

Relationship between Hours of Computer Use and Sleep Time

I noticed that there seems to be a connection between the hours I spent sleeping and my use of the computer. As I stay logged in late in the night staring at the computer screen, the shorter my sleep time. I thought, “Is there a relationship between computer use especially at night and the number of hours I spent sleeping?

I’ve read somewhere that the computer does affect sleeping patterns. So, this could have been resolved simply by sleeping early thus avoiding the use of computer which may have been the culprit for my lack of sleep. But during times when I need to keep up with a heavy workload, I have to stay awake until late in the evening.

The Effect of Blue Light

Once again, I searched the internet for the specific effects of the computer to sleep. Then I came across a youtube video on how to sleep better. That video reminded me of the “blue light” emitted by the computer.

The video did not explain why blue light affects sleep but I remembered I read an article about it. According to research, blue light from the computer inhibits or reduces the production of melatonin, a sleep hormone. Thus, my lack of sleep may be due to reduced melatonin levels. I searched further in youtube about the blue light and what it does to melatonin. And I found a good explanation by Dr. Dani. I embed the helpful video below.

How to Counter the Effect of Blue Light

Knowing about blue light and upon hearing from another youtube video that it can be countered by wearing glasses with red filter or ultraviolet light protection, I resurrected my old sunglasses to experiment. I placed it on top of my progressive lens while typing in front of the computer late into the night.

At the first night I did it, I gained one hour of sleep and on the second day, I gained another hour. The latter gave me enough sleep, a full 7 hours, and greater energy to run early in the morning. I covered 7 kilometers that day in 39 minutes.

In summary, the lack of sleep that you may be experiencing may be attributed to the blue light emitted by the computer. Counter it by wearing glasses with red filter or sunglasses that serve the same purpose. If it doesn’t work then there may be other reasons.

For more tips on how to counter the effects of blue light, read the newsletter on blue light published online by Harvard Medical School.

©2014 December 12 Patrick Regoniel

Aloe Vera Benefits: Amazing Cure to Chapped Lips

Do you have chapped lips? Have you tried different medications to no avail? This may be the solution to your problem. Read on and experience the curative benefits of Aloe vera.

At last, I discovered the best cure to my persistent chapped lips problem. It’s a simple fleshy plant called Aloe vera.

I once learned the curative properties of this plant a few years ago, and it just occurred to me to try it. That’s because I have already tried many remedies to my cracked, injured lips which usually happens when the ambient air is dry.

I tried applying to my lips different sorts of remedy. These include lip balm, petroleum jelly, glossy lipstick, olive oil, and even alum (locally called tawas) that made it even worse (of course).

I was so desperate that I thought I had a serious internal condition. But I didn’t have any bodily symptoms except my painful lips. And boy I’m glad I tried Aloe vera.

What is Aloe vera?

Aloe vera is a succulent plant species. Succulent means a tender, juicy, or fleshy plant. This means that if you hold the leaf of the plant, it is plump.

Once you remove the epidermis or outer leaf material of the plant, a gel in between the covering is revealed. I show a picture of the Aloe vera leaf with about an inch of the epidermis removed below.

How I Used Aloe Vera to Treat My Lips

The procedure I used in using Aloe vera to cure my lips is simple. I removed a leaf from the plant, sliced a little of the upper part of the leaf along its width then made another slice lengthwise, about an inch, to show the jelly-like substance inside it (see picture).

aloe vera benefits
How I cut the aloe vera leaf to access the gel.

I placed the gelatinous substance (open, dorsal side of the leaf) onto my lips and spread it all over my upper and lower lips. Subconsciously, I ate a little of the gel and tasted it just for curiosity and thinking it is edible.

It took me only about one to two days to see the results. My lips were healed in just a matter of three days, applying the gel only in the morning before going to work and at night before sleeping. It’s some miraculous cure.

The gel works best if the leaf is first cooled in the refrigerator. You will experience the cool, soothing relief of the gel after cutting through the leaf and applying the substance to your lips.

Healing Properties of Aloe vera

Before writing this article, I read a few lines about Aloe vera and discovered its many uses. Traditionally, people use Aloe vera as herbal medicine in many countries. It is a multi-purpose skin treatment. It is an effective moisturizer.

Even in the ancient times, the plant’s healing properties have been recognized. It even earned the name “a plant of immortality.”

Despite the health benefits of Aloe vera, however, there are apprehensions about its medicinal uses. It can be harmful if ingested in large doses. Topical applications seem to be okay.

There is, therefore, a need to study this plant further to confirm whatever possible complications that may arise from its use. There is a clear research gap along this area. For me, however, Aloe vera has shown its curative effects.

The underlying rule to apply if you worry about the harmful effects of medicinal plants is to use them in moderation. Once you have availed of its benefits, stop using it.

That’s just what I did. My lips got cured fast so there’s no need to use Aloe vera anymore. One thing I need to do to make sure I avoid having chapped lips is to drink more water. That will keep me internally hydrated and prevent drying up my lips again.

© 2014 October 18 P. A. Regoniel

Running at an Even Pace Works Better than Negative or Positive Splits

Does pacing matter in finishing running races or marathons? It does. I narrate my personal experience of running a 10K and a quick review of literature.

As my enthusiasm in running grows, I also learn a lot while doing it to improve my performance. My very limited experience in my three 10K runs so far gave me good insights. And research has time and again provided good information to verify lessons learned from experience.

This is what I learned: that pacing evenly in running appears to be a better strategy than running the race fast in the early half and slowing down in the next half (called positive split) or running slow the first half and faster in the second half (negative split).

Research findings support this observation. In an article titled Pace Yourself in Runner’s World, researchers found that current world records in running were broken with an even split or simply uniform speed all throughout the race.

Applying the Positive Split

Taking the advice of a runner friend and just for fun, I tried the positive split in the 10K run I joined last Sunday, May 4. That means I’ll run as fast as I can for four minutes or so, then establish my pacing for the rest of the distance.

I did run so fast in the first kilometer that I am ahead of the pack (I never thought I could do that) but then I slowed down to establish my pace after roughly four minutes of sprinting. At that point, I saw many runners whiz past me.

My pacing appears to be too slow for the fast batch of athletes who maintained a fast pace but I was not tempted to keep pace with these well-trained athletes knowing I have a very limited training period of a little over than one year. Those runners have been training for decades! I saw my runner friend take the left lane to keep up with the pack.

I tried to keep up with the pacing of a well-known veteran runner (he’s 74 but still running strong) but decided that the pace is too fast for me so I lagged a little behind. Besides, as I ran with him at the left side, I am wary of the vehicles behind me and decided to stay behind him and see how he paced himself. I noticed he’s adding more speed in his pace as I try to keep up, or probably it’s me generally reducing my speed as I feel my legs are no longer cooperating as they should.

Anyway, I still saw him when I was a few hundred meters away from the finish line. I finished at 1 hour and 3 minutes. Not bad for a 10K but not so good as my previous one-hour 10K when I applied the even running pace. I felt my legs almost cramping in the last 50 meters or so. But I did finish the 10K.

I had hoped that in my last run it should have been sub-one hour. But at least that’s only three minutes below target.

Sneaker Factor?

My pair of new sneakers by Nike, Lunarlon Forever 2, appeared to have affected my performance.  It’s a little cramped at the forefoot. I can feel my left foot heating up probably because of friction as my shoe has not expanded yet to fit my foot with use. The last 10K run is the third time I used it.

I saw a dark spot under my sole when I inspected it after the run (see below). It may have progressed into a blister had I run more kilometers. I didn’t experience this with my Adidas Soltech 2 where there’s an air vent under it; but that one soaks when I run on puddles or on grass on those rainy days.

inflamed skin
Skin inflammation due to friction or lack of air vent.

 After the 10K Run

I lacked mileage, according to the veteran runner when he approached me upon arriving at the finish line. That means I should run more, train more or increase my distance per session. I’m doing my running at only three days a week.

My runs do not really qualify as marathon because the official distance for a marathon is 26.2 miles or 16.17 miles. I have yet to run the half-marathon to get the feel of how a marathon is. So I set my eyes on the 21K run in September and aim to become a finisher.

I will add more points to my aerobics training program and see how it works. Fifty points a week is not enough to break a personal best.

© 2014 May 7 P. A. Regoniel

Heart Rate Analysis: Example of t-test Using MS Excel Analysis ToolPak

This article discusses a heart rate t-test analysis using MS Excel Analysis ToolPak add-in. This is based on real data obtained in a personally applied aerobics training program.

Do you know that there is a powerful statistical software residing in the common spreadsheet software that you use everyday or most of the time? If you have installed Microsoft Excel in your computer, chances are, you have not activated a very useful add-in: the Data Analysis ToolPak.

See how MS Excel’s data analysis function was used in analyzing real data on the effect of aerobics on the author’s heart rate.

Statistical Analysis Function of MS Excel

Many students, and even teachers or professors, are not aware that there is a powerful statistical software at their disposal in their everyday interaction with Microsoft Excel. In order to make use of this nifty tool that the not-so-discerning fail to discover, you will need to install it as an Add-in to your existing MS Excel installation. Make sure you have placed your original MS Office DVD in your DVD drive when you do the next steps.

You can activate the Data Analysis ToolPak by following the procedure below (this could vary between versions of MS Excel; this one’s for MS Office 2007):

  1. Open MS Excel,
  2. Click on the Office Button (that round thing at the uppermost left of the spreadsheet),
  3. Look for the Excel Options menu at the bottom right of the box and click it,
  4. Choose Add-ins at the left menu,
  5. Click on the line Analysis ToolPak,
  6. Choose Excel Add-in in the Manage field below left, then hit Go, and
  7. Check the Analysis ToolPak box then click Ok.

You should now see the Data Analysis function at the extreme right of your Data menu in your spreadsheet. You are now ready to use it.

Using the Data Analysis ToolPak to Analyze Heart Rate Data

The aim of this statistical analysis is to test whether there’s really a significant difference in my heart rate eight months ago and last week. This is because in my earlier post titled How to Slow Down Your Heart Rate Through Aerobics, I mentioned that my heart rate is getting slower through time because of aerobics training. But I used the graphical method to plot a trend line. I did not test whether there is a significant difference in my heart rate or not, from the time I started measuring my heart rate compared to the last six weeks’ data.

Now, I would like to answer the question is: “Is there a significant difference in heart rate eight months ago and last six week’s record?”

Student’s t-test will be used to analyze 18 readings taken eight months ago and the last six weeks as data for comparison. I measured my heart rate upon waking up (that ensures I am rested) during each of my three-times a week aerobics sessions.

Why 18? According to Dr. Cooper, the training effect accorded by aerobics could be achieved within six weeks, so I thought my heart rate within six weeks should not change significantly. So that’s six weeks times three equals 18 readings.

Eight months would be a sufficient time to effect a change in my heart rate since I started aerobic running eight months ago. And the trend line in the graph I previously presented shows that my heart rate slows down through time.

These are the assumptions of this t-test analysis and the reason for choosing the sample size.

The Importance of an F-test

Before applying the t-test, the first test you should do to avoid a spurious or false conclusion is to test whether the two groups of data have a different variance. Does one group of data vary more than the other? If they do, then you should not use the t-test. Nonparametric methods such as Mann-Whitney U test should be used instead.

How do you make sure that this may not be the case, that is, that one group of data varies more than the other? The common test to use is an F-test. If no significant difference is detected, then you can go ahead with the t-test.

Here’s an output of the F-test using the Analysis ToolPak of MS Excel:

F test
Fig. 1. F-test analysis using the Analysis ToolPak.

Notice that the p-value for the test is 0.36 [from P(F<=f) one-tail]. This means that one group of data does not vary more than the other.

How do you know that the difference in variance in the two groups of data using the F-test analysis is not significant? Just look at the p-value of the data analysis output and see whether it is equal to or below 0.05. If it is 0.06 or higher, then the difference in variance is not significant and t-test could now be used.

This result signals me to go on with the t-test analysis. Notice that the mean heart rate during the last six weeks (i.e., 50.28) is lower than that obtained six months ago (i.e. 53.78). Is this really significant?

Result of the t-test

I had run a consistent 30-points per week last August and September 2013 but now I accumulate at least a 50-point week for the last six weeks. This means that I almost doubled my capacity to run. And I should have a significantly lower heart rate than before. In fact, I felt that I can run more than my usual 4 miles and I did run more than 6 miles once a week for the last six weeks.

Below is the output of the t-test analysis using the Analysis ToolPak of MS Excel:

t test
Fig. 2. t-test analysis using Analysis ToolPak.

The data shows that there is a significant difference between my heart rate eight months ago and the last three weeks. Why? That’s because the p-value is lower than 0.05 [i.e., P(T<=t) two-tail = 0.0073]. There’s a remote possibility that there is no difference in heart rate 8 months ago and the last six weeks.

I ignored the other p-value because it is one-tail. I just tested whether there is a significant difference or not. But because the p-value in one-tail is also significant, I can confidently say that indeed I have obtained sufficient evidence that aerobics training had slowed down my heart rate, from 54 to 50. Four beats in eight months? That’s amazing. I wonder what will be the lowest heart rate I could achieve with constant training.

This analysis is only true for my case as I used my set of data; but it is possible that the same results could be obtained for a greater number of people.

© 2014 April 28 P. A. Regoniel

How to Slow Down Your Heart Rate Through Aerobics

Do you have a fast heart rate, i.e., more than 80 beats per minute? Chances are, you are either stressed or not getting enough exercise. Find out how aerobics can slow down your heart rate.

I have this nagging question in mind since I decided to undertake an aerobics program using Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s book on aerobics. This is about one’s heart rate getting slower when regularly exercising. Did my heart rate actually slow down because aerobics exercise has become an integral part of my weekly routine?

On page 101 of Dr. Cooper’s book aptly titled “aerobics,” he mentioned that the heart is such a magnificent engine that, when given less work, will work faster and less efficiently. When you make more demands on it through aerobics, it will become more efficient. That means that for a deconditioned man who does not exercise at all, his resting rate is about 80 or more while a conditioned man who exercises regularly, will have a resting heart rate of about 60 beats per minute or less. In 24 hours at rest, a deconditioned man’s heart will have to beat more than a conditioned man. He went on to explain things about the heart and how it becomes stronger and more efficient with training.

While browsing information along this topic, I found out that top athletes have heart rates of less than 30. Miguel Indurain, a top cyclist has a heart rate of 28.

Does Aerobics Slow Down Heart Rate?

I love to do a simple research to test this information although I am aware that there were already studies done to answer this question. I would like to answer the question using myself as the subject of the study and to see my progress. This is my case.

I will deliberately skip the review of literature and go directly to the objective of this experiment. My research question is:

Does aerobics slow down the heart rate through time?

My Method

I decided that I will use the graphical approach to find out if my heart rate indeed is slowing down through time. This is what researchers call a time series analysis. Will the heart rate trend be going down?

I recorded my heart rate each time I check my blood pressure upon waking up in the morning using an OMRON REM-1 wrist blood pressure monitor. So, I have added information that I will include in this article – my blood pressure.

I started recording the BP information and heart rate last August 8, 2013 up to this time. I do this routine before my 6 o’clock am run so it’s basically my resting heart rate after 6-8 hours of sleep. There were no significant changes in my lifestyle (i.e., no changes in diet, medication, workload, among other things) since I embarked on the aerobics program.

I plotted data gathered for eight months although I have done aerobics since January 2013. But then I failed to record heart rate or BP data until August 2013.

Results

I found out interesting information after plotting the data in Excel. This is easily done by plotting the date and corresponding BP values and heart rate in one row. I clicked on the Insert menu then hit the Line graph and selected the cells for date, diastolic, systolic, and heart rate values.

Indeed, my heart rate decreased through time as indicated by the heart rate trend line. However, I noticed that the trend for blood pressure goes towards the opposite direction. Both the systolic and diastolic pressure follow an upward trend (Figure 1).

graph of the heart rate and blood pressure
Fig. 1. Graph of my blood pressure and heart rate from August 19, 2013 to April 19, 2014.

What does this result suggest? This may mean that as the heart grows stronger (low heart beat), the pressure it exerts on the blood vessels also increases. On the other hand, this suggests that my blood vessels become less elastic through time.

This finding requires further reading – a review of literature focused on the relationship between the heart rate of a healthy person and his blood pressure. Is this trend the same for all people who engaged in aerobics and experienced the training effect?

Training effect is the body’s adaptation to a training program manifested by improvement in functional capacity and strength. In my case, this simply means that I am able to run a 6 kilometer stretch of road without stopping to rest. When I started the aerobics program last January 2013, I can barely finish a mile and my legs ached.

Well, whatever the increasing blood pressure means, what is important is that I found out that aerobics does decrease the heart rate through time. On March 4, 2014, I recorded my lowest heart rate ever: 44.  And I confirmed this by manually counting my pulse in one minute. And I also discovered that I can lower it at will by breathing deeply.

Where does this training bring me? An athlete friend invited me to join a 10K run last February 23, 2014. He noticed that I jog regularly and assured me that I will be able to finish the distance. I explained that I have been jogging just to address a health issue and is not that confident to test my performance. On second thought, I said why not?

I realized I can make the distance and gained confidence that I could be a marathoner. In fact, I’ve already joined and finished two 10-kilometer runs clocking 1:05 and 1:00, respectively. And I aim to finish the upcoming 10K run next month in less than an hour. This was made possible through serious self-training and with determination.

Do you have high blood pressure? Or easily feel tired after a few exertions? Try aerobics and take control of your health.

Just a note of caution: before engaging in strenuous exercise, have a medical check up to rule out any heart problem.

© 2014 April 19 P. A. Regoniel

Research Findings Dispel Old Myths

How can research findings be put to practical use? Here’s an account of how research findings were used to improve one’s health condition through a systematic application of the principles of aerobics.

On February 23, 2014, I joined a 10-kilometer run of a local runners’ club to test whether I can keep up with the pack. I woke up early in the morning at about 4 o’clock to ready myself for the 5:15 AM run.

At age 51, once hypertensive and sedentary for at least four years because of the “lack of time” to exercise and too engrossed at work,  doctors 50 years ago would not recommend what I intend to do. It would be too risky at my age. That is what they say. Accordingly, as people reach middle age, medical doctors once recommend that they should take it easy. Strenuous exercise must be avoided as much as possible for fear of heart attack, stroke, bone injuries, among others.

But I was comforted by the fact that a groundbreaking approach to develop endurance in running or walking long distances was developed by Dr. Kenneth Cooper in his aerobics book in 1960. I happened to see the book in a book sale center as I browse for useful tips on health and self-development.

About the Aerobics Book

The aerobics book outlines how one can build up stamina and endurance in running by undertaking a 16-week aerobics program. The idea behind this book is to build running capacity gradually using a point system. As one progresses, he adds more points until a 30-point week is achieved.

I was able to reach the 30-point week with diligence at week 29 or in August of 2013. Now, I can achieve the 30-point week effortlessly. And the last record I had in my three workouts per week is 48 points. I can easily exceed the 30-point week requirement without feeling too tired to walk or feel anything uncomfortable with my joints. I have maintained the pace and increased my points — gradually.

The key in this approach to stamina building is — gradual. My arteries and veins increased in size gradually. Thus, my blood pressure normalized and even my heartbeat per minute went down. 

Slow Heart Rate?

Last March 4, my heart rate was only 44 when I checked it early in the morning before my workout. Is this abnormal?  How slow can a heartbeat get?

My doctor was a bit alarmed during my last medical check up because he said, the military SWAG (similar to the US SEAL team) he checked have heartbeats averaging 60 per minute. There may be something wrong with my wrist blood pressure monitor or I have bradycardia or slow heart beat which is linked to problems with the electrical system of the heart. So I told him about my workout and he nodded in agreement that I am okay.

Mayo clinic says a normal resting heart rate ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute. However, a slower heart rate at rest implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness which is true for well-trained athletes who usually approach 40 beats a minute.

This means that it takes much less effort to pump the blood all throughout one’s circulatory system as the heart is strong. That’s how Dr. Cooper explained it. 

Performance in the 10K Run

How did I perform in the 10-kilometer run which I ran for the first time? Well, I finished 12th, that is, from the last runner who finished the fun run.  🙂  I did it in one hour and three minutes and got a certificate as a finisher of the 10K run.

10 kilometer run

I mentioned my accomplishment to a colleague who runs regularly. He said, my performance was good because normally, runners are expected to finish the 10K run in one hour and 15 minutes. In fact, I bested 11 other runners I saw still running towards the finish line on my way home. And not only that, I learned later from a runner friend that there were still other runners who decided not to finish the run; either because they were not able to keep up with the top ten runners or they can no longer make it. It gave me somehow a sense of pride for my accomplishment. What a pleasant surprise.

Dispelling Old Myths

How was this accomplishment made possible? A systematic approach was applied by a doctor of medicine and a former Air Force Colonel to dispel old myths that “when you get older, you need to take it easy.” That’s not true. Just like a machine, the body should be worked out regularly. If not, the rust will take over or the parts deteriorate prematurely such that it will not work efficiently anymore.

Dr. Cooper did research and applied his findings. Now, he is in the forefront of preventive medicine. We enjoy the fruits of his labor and gain more control of our health.

Ah well, I am joining the 10K run again tomorrow to see if I will be able to do it better.

© 2014 April 4 P. A. Regoniel

How Slow Can a Heartbeat Get?

Is it possible to have such a slow heart beat than what is usually accepted as the norm? A literature search combined with personal observation can be empowering tools to educate oneself. Indeed, heart rate deviants, called outliers in statistics, exist.

It really pays to educate yourself to keep yourself abreast with what has been discovered so far and help you make decisions. Knowledge is something that we need not only learn in school but by self-study and passionate interest in discovering more than what is made available to you.

I mention these things as I recall the conversations I have had with my doctor when I consulted him the other day. I noticed I had a very low blood pressure and a slow heartbeat at that. As of the latest monitoring using an electronic wrist blood pressure monitor by Omron, my BP went down to just 116/60 at night before retiring to sleep. It seems normal, but my heartbeat was only 47!

I’m a bit disturbed because my doctor noted the other day that normal heartbeats should be 60 or higher; but, according to him, these are the heartbeats of the Marines. Is it possible that I could have such a very slow heartbeat? Should this be a cause for worry?

The doctor’s comments became a concern at the outset. But then, I remembered that Dr. Cooper, a medical doctor who pioneered the aerobics point system, wrote in his book that athletes could have slower than normal heart beats. I flipped to page 103 of his aerobics book, and read that he did note that conditioned athletes can have a resting rate of 32 beats per minute. Further, he checked a marathoner who is in his 60s and recorded a heart rate of 36.[1]  I browsed the internet and learned that Michael Indurain, a five-time winner of Tour de France, had a resting rate of 28 beats per minute. Furthermore, Guinness World Record holder Michael Brady had a heart rate of 27 (!).heart

I am no athlete of these caliber, but knowing these facts and having my record to consult allayed fears of possible abnormality in my condition. It may be a welcome development as I regularly exercise every other day to keep in shape; running a 4 mile distance in 44 minutes or less. If I would translate that to Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s point system, that’s equal to 11 points. And I need to meet at least 30 points per week. I run three times a week, so that’s a total of 33 points per week.

Doing this exercise routine consistently for 36 weeks, my achievement is at par with my earlier running performance way back in the early 1990s. My previous notes, written 20 years ago, indicated that I did have a very low heartbeat on record. My heartbeat on October 20, 1993 was 48 beats per minute. And I did not use an electronic means but counted it using a regular watch and feeling my pulse. So there’s nothing queer about my heart rate at all.

So this is the conclusion of this account on heart rate: that equipping yourself with information from both literature and observation can help you adopt a better view of things. Don’t rely on just a single source of information. Knowledge through a little research and own self-observation recorded on paper can be empowering.

Ones heartbeat can be slower than the expected standard. And…, I have a personal experience to back it up; because I appeared to be one of the deviants, a seeming outlier. Am I a super athlete undiscovered? 🙂

1. Cooper, K. H. (1968). Aerobics. New York: Bantam Books, Inc.

© 2013 October 4 P. A. Regoniel

How Research Translates Into Health Guidelines

The US Government recommendations for better health arise from research findings. A systematic review of literature helps form guidelines on diet and exercise that the public can adopt for better health. Learn the recommendations.

I just finished a free online course titled Nutrition and Physical Activity for Health offered through Coursera.org by the University of Pittsburgh. It was a six-week course with two modules to finish each week.

Although I was a bit behind by a week, I tried to keep up with the reading assignments and quizzes to complete the 11-module course. An optional forum is provided to give feedback on the course or interact on posts written by fellow students or courserians who come from various parts of the world. I learned there were 70,000 of us who joined since the online course’s commencement on July 15, 2013.

What I really appreciate about this course is its science-based approach to health. For every recommended physical activity or diet, there is a corresponding research to back it up. A comprehensive review of research literature point out findings that support diet or physical exercise recommendations.

Here is a summary of what I have learned from the course.

Diet and exercise approach for better health

If you intend to manage your weight and reduce the risk of getting chronic, diet-related diseases like cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, stroke, and diabetes, then the best approach should be to implement both a diet and exercise program. Much will be gained from having a balanced diet and more could be achieved if this is coupled with regular exercise.

What is the recommended diet?

To maximize the benefits of diet, it is important that you should be able to track down your energy or food intakes each day. You should list down how much and what kinds of food you ate. This requires counting the calories derived from food. This simple daily record will give you an insight on the kind and amount of food in terms of calories that will help you manage your diet.diet

All of the food consumed do not get burned for energy. The body will use up only a specific amount of calories to carry on the daily activities. The rest gets either excreted as waste or stored as fat. You should be concerned about overeating because if you take more than enough, the excess gives that added weight unless you do something to get rid of it. It is here that exercise plays a role.

There are a specific amount of calories needed for maintenance of body weight for the different food groups namely carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The same goes for optimal quantities of vitamins and minerals to help absorb and regulate food in the body.

The whole point is that you should first understand your diet through consistent monitoring and from there design a diet that will give you just enough amount and kind of food required for weight maintenance. This means more of fibrous food and less of trans and saturated fats which are obtained easily from food.

What is the recommended amount of exercise?

The recommended amount of exercise to maintain weight is at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate exercise per week. Ideally, this should be spread at a minimum of three times a week or better still, four to five times a week. This means at least 50 minutes of exercise if you opt for a three times a week exercise program or 30 minutes per session if you decide to exercise five times a week.

According to studies, more exercise is better. For best results, 250 minutes of moderate exercise per week is recommended. My exercise program is just okay as I do 41 to 44 minutes of vigorous exercise, that is, running a six kilometer distance three times a week. I just need to adjust my calorie intakes because my weight is between obese and normal based on a body mass index (BMI) of 25.9.

If you want to learn more about the health benefits of exercise, download the 2008 Physical Guidelines for Americans.

To measure the amount of calorie intake based on your food as well as your progress in your physical activity, use SuperTracker, a free online tool to track an individual’s diet and physical activity.

© 2013 September 2 P. A. Regoniel