Swatch Watches = bright colored magical Swiss timepieces!
My gateway into heart rate tracking.
As a kid, I had a habit of passing out right after my swimming races.
While my docs were working to figure out my issues they taught me how to take my pulse.
I could care less about my heart rate…at first.
Getting a new vibrant colored Swatch watch, now that made my day!
Pre-teens and teens in the 80’s Swatches raged over these things.
I hustled my parents for quite a few of them over the years…
…all in the name of health data and having to match my loud neon outfits.
I’m sure they were on to me.
They did get me to track my heart rate and learn some valuable information.
And I stopped passing out!
What did these magical watches teach me?
- certain foods made my base line heart rate go up
- taking shallow breaths wasn’t serving me in life or in the pool
- I was more suited for endurance fitness versus sprinting
- not getting at least 6 hours of sleep a night messed with me
- when I was constipated my heart rate went up
- sugar and I were not friends
- I had test anxiety
It was common to do carb loading pasta nights with your team the night before swim meets.
Not sure I’ve met a kid that didn’t like pasta or cheese.
And don’t forget the cheesy garlic bread.
No part of those meals were easy on the gut.
My heart rate would go up 20 points above my baseline the next morning.
Not great for a kid who’s supposed to race and who was all about winning.
In the pool my coaches had me taking my heart rate between various sets.
If I breathed every other stroke my heart rate would go up faster than if I took longer to breathe.
Cadence of breath mattered for me and it varied from freestyle (crawl stroke) to butterfly.
Next time the olympics come around check out the varied breathing styles of the swimmers.
It’s a thing.
I ended up not breathing but 1-2 times for my 50 meter sprint races and developed a cadence for my 500 meter longer races.
Fast forward 35 years later and I’m still using the same breath techniques today when it comes to my sports and cardiovascular conditioning.
How you breathe has a direct impact on your nervous system and subsequently your heart rate.
I was passing out because I was stressing out my nervous system from taking shallow breaths.
You take short breaths when you’re anxious, stressed, reacting to foods that do not agree with you, you’re feeling agitated or not cardiovascularly fit.
I’ve found that a lot of my patients have less dizziness, anxiety and stress reactions when they practice breath work.
Breath work is one way to improve your nervous and cardiovascular system’s resilience to stress.
You can condition and improve your nervous system and heart at any age.
It starts with knowing your base line heart rate.
Take it every morning for a week before getting out of bed, get the average from the week and note it.
Practice holding your exhales a bit longer each time you breathe.
Take 2-5 seconds to start and after 5 breaths see how long you can hold your breath before your body forces you to inhale.
See if your heart rate goes down over the course of 2-3 months while your ability to hold your breath goes up.
If this intrigues you, you can build on this.
Add in walking and see how you can change your heart rate while slowing down your breath and lengthening the time it takes you to exhale.
If you’re open to learning more and interested in a masterclass on this very topic – hit reply – If I get enough interest I’ll do that as my next free masterclass.
Here’s to a fun weekend of experimenting with breath work! – Dr. J