variations in the heart rate are an important measure of health
not only of the heart, but of the entire body. If your "heart
rate variability" (HRV) is low, it's an indication that
your autonomic nervous system isn't functioning properly.
That's not a good sign, considering that this system is responsible
for maintaining balance and control of nearly 90% of the bodyıs
HRV is generally lower in the elderly population, but maintaining
healthy variations in our heart rate can help prevent heart
attacks and other cardiac problems. A study in Medicine &
Science in Sports & Exercise found that regular physical activity
was effective in increasing HRV slightly over 24-hour periods,
and moderately during the daytime.
The 51 elderly subjects (average age: 67 years) were divided
into a non-exercising control group and an exercise group
that trained three times a week for six months; each 45-minute
training session consisted of jogging/walking, stretching,
and various aerobic exercises. After six months, heart rate
variations were higher in the exercise group compared with
the group that did not exercise.
If you're not sure about how healthy your heart is, or if
you'd like more information on how to maintain a healthy heart
and a healthy body as you get older, talk to your doctor of
Schuit AJ, Van Amelsvoort LG, Verheij TC, et al. Exercise
training and heart rate variability in older people. Medicine
& Science in Sports & Exercise, June 1999: Vol. 31, No.