If the only time your heart races like mad is when you hurry across a room in the house, there’s a very likely reason for this and there’s a solution.
This situation is not to be equated with a suddenly racing heart for NO reason.
For example, you’re sitting at your computer or watching TV, and suddenly out of the blue, you feel your heart racing – without any stimulus such as a loud noise right outside your window or just learning some horrible news.
So your heart, then, began racing for no reason. This could signal a problem.
Heart Races when You Run Across a Room
• This is the only time it happens.
• It is NOT accompanied by other symptoms such as chest pain, tight chest, dizziness, faintness or nausea.
• Once you stop the rushing, your pulse calms down.
There are two logical explanations:
• You’re out of shape.
• You’re hurrying across the room in response to a crisis (child fell and is crying, new puppy just threw up, you heard a crashing noise, etc.).
“Heart ‘racing’ with activity in all ages is due to activity,” begins Susan L. Besser, MD, with Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore, and Diplomate American Board of Obesity Medicine and board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.
“Any increase in activity (exercise, running, getting excited) will cause an increase in heart rate as the body prepares to optimize its ability to run, react, accomplish the task,” continues Dr. Besser.
“The heart rate increase causes the blood to circulate faster through the body to improve oxygenation to the muscles, brain and other vital organs so they can accomplish the task. This is normal.”
But Simply Dashing Across a Room ? ? ?
If an out of shape person runs about in the house, their heart rate will increase and may even “race.”
Why wouldn’t it? After all, being out of shape means your cardiovascular system isn’t efficient at supplying your moving muscles oxygen. If you’re seriously out of shape, your pulse may even pound.
This will especially happen if the reason you’re hurrying from one room to the next is due to some type of crisis, as this will ignite the flight or fight response in the body – even if it’s just your toddler crying.
Many people are alarmed when their heart rate speeds up when “all I did was hurry to answer the phone.”
However, the cardiovascular system of a deconditioned person doesn’t know the difference between dashing across the living room and down the hallway and that of a seven-second sprint on a treadmill.
It’s a Normal Response
The body’s energy needs are suddenly raised. In response, the heart beats faster to supply the working muscles with oxygen (blood).
It’s a normal physiological response. You’re imposing a work demand (hurrying across a room or down a hallway) on your body. Of COURSE the heart will speed up.
If you were to stand in one spot but jump up and down as high as you could for five seconds, the same thing would happen.
But because people don’t equate rushing around in the house to answer a phone or doorbell with “exercise,” they fear something is wrong with their heart when it races.
Your entire body is racing to get from point A to point B. It only follows that your heart will race to keep up.
“Abnormal heart racing ‘palpitations’ can occur due to stress, anxiety or a cardiac condition,” adds Dr. Besser.
But a so-called palpitation is an erratic or irregular heartbeat, one that feels skipped or extra. A racing heart from merely rushing across a room is merely a steady but elevated pulse.
Physical Fitness Prevents Racing Heart from Everyday Activities
The heart of a very fit individual pumps more blood with each beat. So if this person dashes around the house, even up and down stairs, their heart will not race.
The pulse will increase, yes, but it will not race or “pound. That’s because, again, the pumping action is very efficient.
A fit individual, in fact, can sprint across a parking lot in the rain and when he or she stops at point B, is breathing only a LITTLE bit heavier than baseline.
Best Way to Improve Cardiovascular Fitness
The best cardio exercise is that which alternates brief bursts of output with a minute to several minutes of easy pacing. This is called interval training.
This concept can be applied to ANYBODY – regardless of age, body weight or how out of shape you think you are or feel.
Stationary Bike Study
“Doing 10, one-minute sprints on a standard stationary bike with about one minute of rest in between works as well in improving muscle as many hours of conventional long-term biking less strenuously,” says Martin Gibala, a scientist at McMaster University, in a report in The Journal of Physiology (2010). The protocol is only three times a week.
To achieve this study’s equivalent results, you’d have to do over 10 hours of conventional pedaling over 14 days.
Study after study shows that the time-efficient interval training is superior at improving cardiovascular function and makes the heart pump more blood with each beat.
Interval training teaches the heart to be efficient at sudden bursts of activity.
Once your body has become trained from interval workouts, your heart won’t be so “shocked” when you suddenly hurry across a room.
In fact, your heart will think this mad race to tend to a screaming child in the next room is just another interval on the treadmill!
Interval training can be done with walking (speed up, slow down), walking mixed with jogging, slow jogging mixed with running, and intervals on stepping machines, staircases or outside steps.
Dr. Besser provides comprehensive family care, treating common and acute primary conditions like diabetes and hypertension. Her ongoing approach allows her the opportunity to provide accurate and critical diagnoses of more complex conditions and disorders.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.
Top image: Shutterstock/Africa Studio