Rocky Gorge WellNews February 2023 Edition

Rocky Gorge WellNews February 2023 Edition

It’s late winter, and while our hearts are now yearning for Spring, we’d like to say good things about February before we say goodbye to winter.

How Does Your Heart Beat?

The American Heart Association designates February as National Heart Month, so it’s only fitting that we revisit some aspects of cardiac wellness.

Rocky Gorge Wellness’s philosophy is “Movement is medicine.” Understanding the importance of heartrate as it relates to exercise is crucial to achieving optimal cardiac wellness. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of exercise. We also recognize that intense, sweaty exercise isn’t possible for everyone at every phase of their lives. Yet any type of movement that boosts weekly activity levels and heartrate is better than a sedentary lifestyle. Having excess body weight without engaging in routine physical movement is the one of the leading causes of heart disease in adults as young as thirty. Even if you’re relatively slim but not very active, your heart may not be getting enough opportunities to circulate blood and oxygen effectively. So let’s be more mindful of your heartrate!

Incorporating a few routines that lower your resting heartrate and raise your target heart rate when you’re in motion is vital to wellbeing. Walking, biking, and running are just a few.

Resting Heartbeat

First, determine what your normal resting heartrate is, on average. The best time to take a reading is when you first wake up, preferably before you even get out of bed. Resting heartrate is usually between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm). That’s a wide range that depends on several factors, such as age, weight, stress levels, medications, hormones, and overall physical condition. Interestingly, the less active you are, the faster your resting heartbeat, because your heart muscle has to work harder to sustain a steady rhythm. Highly conditioned athletes are known to have resting rates as low as 40.

Target and Maximum Heartrates

Exercise science has looked closely at what constitutes an optimum heartrate during physical activity, ranging from moderate to intense. As a result, guidelines ensure that we achieve a level of sustained elevated heartbeat during exercise but don’t strain too hard or exceed target and maximum rates. These rates are based on age: the general formula is that your maximum heart rate should be about 220 minus your age.

Target and Maximum Heartrate Ranges

While exercising, take your pulse for 30 seconds and multiply by 2 to calculate your bpm. If you use a wearable activity tracker, great!

The average figures below are borrowed from the American Heart Association’s guidelines on target heartrates. As they advise, “Target heart rate during moderate intensity activities is about 50-70% of maximum heart rate, while during vigorous physical activity it’s about 70-85% of maximum.”

Age Target HR Zone 50-85 Average Maximum Heart Rate, 100%
20 years 100-170 bpm 200 bpm
30 years 95-162 bpm 190 bpm
35 years 93-157 bpm 185 bpm
40 years 90-153 bpm 180 bpm
45 years 88-149 bpm 175 bpm
50 years 85-145 bpm 170 bpm
55 years 83-140 bpm 165 bpm
60 years 80-136 bpm 160 bpm
65 years 78-132 bpm 155 bpm
70 years 75-128 bpm 150 bpm

So let’s stop talking and let’s get walking!


Since February is National Heart Month, let’s look at fruits that contain high concentrations of antioxidants that can curb vascular inflammation, mediate high blood pressure, and support our immune systems.


Blueberries (Vaccinium) are almost universally loved, so it’s not hard to convince our readers to increase their blueberry intake on a regular basis. A good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K (to supports blood clotting function), and manganese, one cup contains a mere 84 calories and virtually no fat or sodium. Few fruits or vegetables can compete for its abundance in flavonoids, important for their antioxidant properties. Blueberries are known to have the highest of antioxidant load of all fruits, a major plus for heart health. Add them to yogurt, salads, smoothies, breakfast cereals, muffins and other baked goods, and serve alongside (or in) waffles, French toast, and pancakes.

Frozen fresh blueberries are nearly as nutritious as fresh, and they freeze with ease. Take advantage of greater availability and lower prices in the summer by buying extra. Spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze for at least two hours. Then store them in freezer bags or containers to use as needed.

Dried blueberries are a great addition to baked goods, sprinkled on cereal, and many other uses. Remember that dried fruit is higher in fiber but also in sugar, so limit portions to about an ounce per serving.


Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) has long been sought out for its intense, slightly sweet-astringent flavor, as well as for its protective support in cases of sinus, flu, and other respiratory infections. The fresh fruit is high in Vitamin C, an important antioxidant, and supplies fiber, quercetin, calcium, potassium, zinc, and iron. Elderberry is a natural diuretic and has been shown to lower blood sugar. The syrup has been used in traditional herbal remedies for thousands of years to soothe sore throats and chest congestion. The fruit can be preserved in jams and jellies and contributes bright notes to wines, champagnes, and vinegars. Its concentration of flavonoids boosts immune systems and is believed to curtail the duration of illness, especially if taken in the early onset of symptoms. It’s an ingredient in soothing cough lozenges and gummies, although for therapeutic benefits, liquid extracts have the highest concentrations of protective properties. Dried elderberries can be purchased at some health food stores and online.

While fresh elderberries are rarely available commercially, due to their delicate nature, gathering wild elderberries with an experienced forager can be very rewarding. The berries must be harvested at complete ripeness (before the birds get to them!), and the stems and leaves must be avoided.

Blueberry Smoothie Any Way You Want It

Packed with protein, fiber, and fruit enzymes, this smoothie is perfect for giving you a boost before a brisk morning walk.

Makes 2 servings.

2 cups plain yogurt or kefir, or substitute with a nondairy beverage or plant-based yogurt or kefir

1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries

2 tablespoons ground flax or hemp seeds

Additional options:

One sliced banana

One tablespoon elderberry jam, jelly, or syrup for additional sweetness

One tablespoon dried elderberries soaked in a little hot water for 20 minutes

One tablespoon of honey or agave syrup

A few ice cubes on warm summer days

Place ingredients in a blender for a few seconds and blast away those free radicals! Adjust ingredients according to taste and consistency.

Classes and Private Sessions

Be sure to check out our 2023 schedule of classes. These sessions are offered both in-studio and virtually via Zoom. Please contact Abby to register for classes or book a private session.