Exercise · Heart health · Yoga

Not All Active Minutes Are Created Equal

I’m ready for winter to be over. Although, it did give me an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone again this year.

On Friday I went snowmobiling with my boyfriend Jeremy. He’s an avid ‘sledder’ while I am as green as they come.

I’m not one to go too fast on anything, especially when it’s unfamiliar to me and I don’t know what I’m doing. And because it all comes so naturally to him, he failed to mention the throttle on the one I was riding tends to stick. I can’t fault him, because he knows its quirks and just deals with it as it happens.

I, however, did not know it did that…nor did I know what to do when it did. So naturally I panicked and hit the kill switch; which shut the machine down as it was supposed to. The downside…I had to wait for him to come back to me and start it. I was ready to turn around right there, but we switched machines for a few miles. Once we got into the open field I did much better, and figured out how to adjust the throttle when it decided to be a jerk.

By the time the day was done, my Fitbit said I had just over 300 minutes! Yes…you read that right. 300! That’s 5 hours of activity, but we were only gone about 3 hours; and that included a stop at a friend’s for coffee.

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As much as I’d like to say I burned thousands of calories as well, that’s not the case. I didn’t burn a whole lot more than I do on a regular day. And my step count wasn’t that spectacular either. I’m sure most of them were racked up from the bumps in the fields.

My conclusion: my heart rate was very high simply because I was either terrified, scared, or talking (while visiting). I’m sure it was a combination of all the emotions I experienced during the afternoon.

My point is that although I got over 300 minutes, I’m sure very few were the type of minutes that are good for our hearts. Stress and anxiety may raise our heart rate, but they do not release the feel-good chemicals that we benefit from during exercise. In fact, anxiety at that level on a regular basis can be detrimental to our heart health.

When we got back to his house we stretched out on the couch, and while he napped I practiced some deep breathing to calm myself down. It was hours before I felt like myself again, which goes to show that anxiety can cause real problems for those who experience it regularly.

I like to think of myself as a pretty relaxed person that doesn’t get too worked up over anything, but not having the control over the machine I should have had stressed me out. That in itself is not a feeling I like to have.

He loves sledding, and loves to go to the mountains. He wants me to join him this year so he can show me his passion, but to be honest, I’m feeling anxious just thinking about it. I’m sure it’s simply because I don’t have the experience on a snowmobile to begin with. I went with him once last winter near his house, and then again on Friday. I’m not sure if I’m ready for a mountain trip this year. I prefer the mountains in the summer. 🙂

All of that aside, when you’re raising your heart rate be sure it’s going to benefit you (via exercise, laughter, and happy conversation), and not harm you (via anxiety, stress, arguments). We don’t have control over every situation in life, but we can learn to take steps to regain some control when things go south.

Plus there’s nothing wrong with stepping out of our comfort zones; we just have to know how to get back into them when things feel out of control. I’m thankful for my yoga and learning how to breathe to calm myself down. It was definitely preaching put into practice, instead of just saying I need to practice what I preach.

As I said, we all have moments when we don’t have control over a situation. Being able to get back to a healthy heart rate as quickly as possible after a stressful situation is important. It not only helps our body, but also our mind.

If you’re faced with stress, what do you do to regain control of your heart rate and emotions? Let me know in the comments below.