Blood is the only liquid tissue in the human body. Composed of both red and white blood cells, plasma and clotting agents called platelets, blood acts as a messenger to all reaches of the body. t carries a number of things including nutrients, oxygen, and hormones while assisting with thermoregulation and acid/base balance (elaborate on ph balance). It is crucial that blood is constantly circulating from head to toe. Without blood flow, brain cells begin to die after just 5 minutes. Of course, the heart is the mechanism tasked with facilitating the transport of our blood, and as long as it is doing so, the body is still alive.
Putting It Into Perspective
The heart is essentially a pump composed of muscle and connective tissue that forces blood through vascular pathways. Weighing about 300 grams, it could fit into the palm of your hand. Despite its size, the human heart is one of the most powerful mechanisms in existence. In a single day, it contracts over 100,000 times pumping roughly 2000 gallons of blood. It does this tirelessly, day after day, until death. Given the average human lifespan of 79 years, the resilience of this organ is remarkable. A car engine is built using some of the most durable materials on earth. Steel, aluminum, titanium, and iron are used to ensure strength and stability. In spite of this, one would be fortunate to own a car for 20 years without an engine failure; that is 20 years of discontinuous use. An average human heart pumps four times longer without ever stopping— even for a quick breather.
Our Most Important Muscle
It’s a common misconception that heart cells regenerate throughout a person’s life. The heart’s myocytes or muscle cells exit the cell cycle soon after birth meaning that the vast majority of heart cells never divide. The predominant form of heart cell growth is an increase in size, not number. Those heart cells that die with our bodies are the same ones that were with us at birth. These incredible cellular characteristics are fundamental to the operation of the heart. Although a lack of cell division means catastrophe in the event of an injury, it makes the heart nearly impervious to cancer and allows it to be strengthened with use.
As a muscle, the more the heart is exercised, the stronger it becomes, lessening the number of pumps required to transport the same amount of blood to other muscles and parts of the body. For an average, sedentary adult at rest, the heart rate lies between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Meanwhile, the conditioned heart of a highly trained athlete could beat as little as 40 times in one minute while at rest, delivering the same amount of oxygen to the brain and body. That’s over twice the efficiency of the high-end average.
Strengthening the Heart at Performance One
When all is said and done, a stronger heart means a healthier body. In addition, a stronger heart enables our bodies to achieve higher levels of performance, gaining the ability to go harder and faster, for longer. While the muscle groups in our legs and upper body are important, we understand that athletes with the strongest hearts— figuratively and literally— are the ones who succeed.
At Performance One, athlete training is what we do and we are experts in bringing out the best in those we enter our gym. Our fitness programs are designed to strengthen, not just the glamour muscles, but the hearts and minds of our athletes. Understanding the heart and its role as our most important muscle gives more perspective on how we should train our bodies for maximum performance. If you are an individual who wants to take your heart and body to the next level, contact us at Performance One today.