Why Does Your Heart Beat Faster When You Run?

The human body is an amazing thing.

We humans are capable of tremendous feats of physical (and mental) endurance, and can train our bodies to achieve wonderful accomplishments.  This is made possible by how our bodies work – especially our heart.

Why our hearts beat faster when we run is an interesting look into running physiology – and can give us insights into how to run better.

The Miraculous Circulatory System

One of the main systems in our body that pretty much allows our body to function is the circulatory system.  Consisting of the heart and a lengthy collection of veins, arteries, and capillaries, the circulatory system is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood through the body.

Every cell in our body craves oxygen and needs it in order to function.  By pumping blood, our heart ensures that this oxygen – carried by red blood cells – makes it to each and every cell.

Exercise and Your Heart

Exercise and your heart rate are directly related.  As one goes up, the other goes up too.  More exercise requires more energy, which requires more oxygen flowing through the body.  This, as you can imagine, requires your heart to beat faster.

When you first begin exercising, your circulatory and respiratory systems are untrained and cannot transport blood through the body as efficiently as a more advanced runner can.  As you learn how to run faster and longer, though, through anaerobic and aerobic exercise, your body becomes stronger and more adept at circulating oxygen.

VO2 Max: A Measure of Fitness

We measure our body’s ability to make use of oxygen (through both systems) by measuring something called our VO2 max.  This is the rate at which we can take in and process oxygen, and is a major measure of aerobic fitness.

Your VO2 max can be built up through aerobic exercise, like the exercises you’ll find with 5K training and 10K training. You can also develop your anaerobic capacity with high-intensity interval training, which further helps your body function efficiently – this time without oxygen.

Both are critical for an effective performance.

In short, our hearts beat faster when we run because they are trying to pump as much oxygenated blood through the body as quickly as possible to handle an increased demand for that life-giving substance.  Our metabolic processes need oxygen to function; therefore, by beating faster, our hearts effectively give our cells the fuel they need to provide energy.

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One Response to “Why Does Your Heart Beat Faster When You Run?”

  1. Heather says:

    very informative! I love reading about the science behind running/training!

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