4MV #242 I was shocked when I saw my heart rate drop 80 beats ✔ it turned out to be good news

⭑ A simple way to measure your cardio health ✔ do it regularly
⭑ Healthy gut lining is vital for longevity ✔ this natural food improves it
⭑ Heart Rate Variability indicates your body stress ✔ Take note of it
⭑ Reverse squats are easier on your knees ✔ and just as beneficial

All strength to Ukraine 🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦


10 km

Running 10 km was never part of my fitness routine. In fact, I never considered running until the gym closed for refurbishment over Christmas, about 15 months before the COVID outbreak. In a moment of desperation, I decided to give it a try.

It took me 2 years to be able to run 5 km. As regular readers know, I joined the local Masters Athletics club in January of this year, and they encouraged me to compete. Last weekend, I won the State Masters 10 km track running event - gold in my age group with a time of 50 minutes and 46 seconds.

When I checked the heart rate chart, I was struck by its dramatic illustration of the post-exercise heart rate drop.

This is a good thing, as AI told me: "This abrupt decrease suggests the runner has stopped running and is beginning the recovery phase. The quick drop indicates good cardiovascular health, as a faster recovery time is generally associated with better heart function and overall fitness" — see item #1 below.

A healthy gut wall is essential for good health as otherwise toxins leak into our bloodstream. Almond meal boosts the health of our gut lining — see item #2.


01 How To Simply Measure Your Cardiovascular Fitness

You might be confused when you first hear that a rapid "heart rate drop" is good. It sounds a little ominous - but not after exercise. In fact, your heart rate drop after exercise is a window into your metabolic and cardiovascular fitness.

The good news is that it is simple to measure, and we can all do it. It even has a positive-sounding name - Heart Rate Recovery (HRR). Post-exercise HRR refers to how quickly your heart rate drops after exercising. See mine below for my 10 km competition run last Sunday.

⇒ When your heart rate recovers quickly after exercise, it suggests that your body can effectively manage the physiological stress of activity. This capability is tied to better insulin sensitivity, lower levels of inflammation, and improved lipid profiles—all critical components of metabolic health.

Moreover, research has linked good heart rate recovery with increased longevity.

What this means for you: Monitoring your post-exercise heart rate recovery gives you a practical insight into your cardiovascular and metabolic health. This can then help you to make more informed lifestyle choices and potentially increase your longevity.

  • Measure your heartbeat upon completing an exercise.
  • Stay relaxed and calm for 2 minutes - avoid any unnecessary movements during the measurement period.
  • Measure your heartbeat again.

A good recovery is a drop of 20 beats per minute, this is the goal and a sign of good cardio fitness. A faster recovery time (a larger drop) is associated with better cardiac fitness and overall health.

Do this once a week. If the drop is less than 20 beats in the first 2 minutes and stays there over months, you need to raise the intensity of your regular exercise. Talk with your doctor first.

TIP: Your exercise must elevate your heart rate to at least 20 beats a minute faster than your resting heart rate for this test to work.

Related: ​I Started Trail Running At 70. Besides Being Bitten By A Dog I Love It​


02 Almonds and Almond Meal Heals Your Gut Lining

After testing for Covid earlier this year, I had only mild symptoms, which disappeared after 3 days - except for my gut. Gut pains and diarrhea continued for 4 weeks.

From my research, I discovered that 20% of those who suffer from long-Covid have these problems, typically lasting for between 2 months and a year.

I wondered if this was a by-product of my regular running training, as research suggests a clear causal relationship between endurance running and gastrointestinal problems such as pains and diarrhea. Most marathon runners suffer from this.

It happens because the stress of running manifests in higher gut lining permeability. This allows bacteria, toxins, and undigested food particles to pass through the gut lining into our bloodstream.

Running also decreases blood flow to the gut as the blood is directed to power the legs, resulting in symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea.

How to repair my gut? I settled on almonds and almond meal. Regular consumption of almonds increases the diversity and abundance of beneficial gut bacteria.

⇒ Enhanced gut microbiota composition contributes to reduced gut permeability and inflammation.

Consuming almonds and almond meal also boosts the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate by gut bacteria. SCFAs are important for gut health, immune function, and brain health (via the gut-brain connection).

What does this mean for you? Adding almonds and/or almond meal to your daily diet improves your gut microbiota composition and cognitive function by such means as enhancing insulin sensitivity and promoting a healthy gut-brain axis, which contributes to overall well-being and lifespan.

I eat whole almonds, and more often use almond meal in various settings every day. Almond meal has higher nutrient bioaccessibility than nuts, but ultimately, the difference is slight. Try these:

  1. Add a spoonful of almond meal to your morning oatmeal or smoothie for added texture and nutty flavour - I do this.
  2. Mix almond meals into your favourite yogurt or pudding for a crunchy topping that adds a little extra protein and plenty of fibre.
  3. Sprinkle with salads or soups for a crunchy garnish.
  4. Incorporate almond meal when making muffins, cookies, or bread for a gluten-free alternative that adds a rich and nutty flavour.

⇒ In my case, after focusing on improving the flow of prebiotics such as almond meal to my gut, the pains subsided after a week and have not returned. But I still use the almond meal daily.

Using almond meal in these ways is an easy way to improve your gut health.

Related: Eating Nuts Helps Manage Your Weight - Research Proves It​​

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03 Overtraining Improves HRR But Can Lead to Chronic Stress

Exercise improves Heart Rate Recovery (HRR). Still, too much exercise lowers Heart Rate Variability (HRV), which fundamentally means that our metabolic system remains stressed and vulnerable to immune system failures.

HRV is the variation in the time interval between heartbeats. It reflects the balance between the autonomic nervous system's sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) branches.

⇒ High HRV is generally a sign of good autonomic balance and cardiovascular health. It indicates the body's ability to adapt to stress, recover, and maintain homeostasis, in other words, to maintain metabolic resilience.

While more training and intense training will improve our HRR, too much of it will also reduce HRV. To improve your longevity, you must maintain a rapid HRR and high HRV, as this combination is linked to reduced risks of hypertension, heart attacks, and stroke.

⇒ In fact, both rapid HRR and high HRV are strong predictors of longevity. Studies have shown that individuals with these metrics have a lower risk of all-cause mortality, i.e. a lower risk of earlier death.

What this means for you: To achieve optimal HRR and HRV, you must balance your exercise durations and intensities and not over do long exhaustive efforts or high-intensity efforts:

  • Periodisation: Implement training cycles that include phases of high intensity followed by periods of lower intensity or rest.
  • Active Recovery: On rest days, try walking, light jogging, yoga, or stretching to promote blood flow and recovery without adding stress.
  • Sleep: Prioritize 7-9 hours of quality sleep nightly to support recovery and improve HRV. Sleep is crucial for autonomic balance and overall health.
  • Hydration: Maintain adequate hydration before, during, and after runs to support cardiovascular function and recovery.

⇒ Monitor your HRR and HRV with wearables. I check every evening. If HRV is down, I reflect on what might have caused it and address the problem, e.g., overtraining or insufficient sleep.


04 Reverse Lunges, Easier on Your Knees Than Forward Ones

Our exercise of the week is... reverse lunges.

While forward lunges are most common, reverse lunges offer specific benefits that make them a better choice when your lower body joints show signs of wear and tear.

Reverse lunges place less stress on the knees than forward lunges. When stepping backward, we naturally shift weight to the hips, engaging the glutes and hamstrings more effectively while minimising the pressure on the knee joint. This is particularly beneficial if you already experience knee pain or have a history of knee issues.

Reverse lunges also help improve your balance and stability by requiring greater control and coordination. By targeting the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps more effectively than forward lunges, reverse lunges improve your lower body strength and overall mobility.

All up, as compared to forward lunges, reverse lunges deliver reduced knee stress, improved balance and stability, enhanced muscle engagement, and better posture.

-What this means for you: Do reverse lunges 2 or 3 times a week:

  • Starting Position: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, shoulders back, and core engaged. Keep your hands on your hips or clasped in front of your chest for balance.
  • Step Back: Take a step backward with your right foot, landing on the ball of your foot and keeping your heel off the ground.
  • Lower Your Body: Bend both knees to lower your body. Your front knee should be directly above your ankle, forming a 90-degree angle. Your back knee should hover just above the floor.
  • Push Back Up: Press through the heel of your front foot to return to the starting position.
  • Alternate Legs: Repeat the movement with your left leg. Continue alternating legs for the desired number of repetitions.

Some level-ups and tips:

  1. Use Support: If you are new to reverse lunges or have balance concerns, perform the exercise near a wall or hold onto a sturdy chair for support.
  2. Increase Intensity: Hold a pair of light dumbbells or wear a weighted vest to make the exercise more challenging. This will add resistance and further engage your muscles.
  3. Add a Twist: Incorporate a twist to work your core. As you lunge backward, twist your torso toward your front leg before returning to the starting position.

Do 1 set of 5 to 20 step-backs with each leg. See this 30-second video.

Related: How to Break Through Your Exercise Plateaus

Thanks for reading!

P.S. If you are not yet subscribed to my free exercise app, try now ↓↓↓ Free forever. Opt-out any time. Opt-in by CLICKING HERE PLEASE SEND ME THE EXERCISES. NOTE: YOU ONLY NEED TO SUBSCRIBE ONE TIME.

>> My Latest Blog Post: Energise Your Golden Years: Boosting Your Desire to Exercise with Gut-Healthy Foods

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