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Question
Posted by: Hypercondriact? (Bad speller?) | 2008/08/15

Heart worries vs Gym

I gave up smoking in Jan' 08 and have put on 10 Kg over and above the 35kg I carried in excess. I am stuck in the vicious cirlce now &  want to break out of it. I have attempted Gym a few times, but I worry about my heart. I seem to have a bit of a phobia when my BPM starts getting above 130. I am terrified of having a heart attack or something from over-exerting myself. What would be a safe BMP rate for a 32 year old woman, approx 45kg overweight, ex-smoker, have drunk a bit exessivley (another reason to change to a healthier lifestyle), and have had my fair share of trauma &  stress over the last 10 years (don' t know if that counts). I am dependant on the Gym thing as I have no problem getting up at 5am to go to gym, but I find it hard to make a lifestyle change excluding the Gym discipline. Reason: Getting up early will improve healthy food prep &  no drinking the night before. So, what say the jury?

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Our expert says:
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Hi there

There's nothing wrong with being slightly paranoid about your health (within reason, of course!). I can reassure you that there's no harm in lifting the heart rate above 130. You could even lift it higher than that, up to 190 bpm and you'd be fine. You'd feel very tired, of course, because to get your heart rate that high takes a real effort and you'd be fatigued, for a while, but it's not dangerous.

So you can train with some reassurance that as long as your other symptoms (like chest pain, breathing difficulty etc) are not present. If you can finish your training sessions feeling tired, but not exhausted, then you're more than safe. I guess the idea is that you should complete your training feeling like if you had to, you could do another 20 minutes without too much trouble.

Having said all this, it's never a bad idea to have yourself fully assessed - you could go for a stress ECG where they check the function of the heart and give you the green light. That will, at least, give you some assurance of your safety and might be a good idea. However, I wouldn't be too concerned, rather be cautious, but not over conservative in your exercise.

Good luck

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