The Connection Between The Heart And Performance
February means Valentine’s day and, in the United States it’s also Heart Health Month. Thoughts of love and the heart are front of mind, so it’s a good time to pay special attention to these vital organs and what keeps them in good cardiovascular shape.
The heart has long been thought of as the command center of love, and the notion remains even as research shows that almost everything related to affection, attraction and adoration happens in the brain. So strong is this connection between the heart and love, when Barney Clark became the first person in the world to receive a permanent artificial heart transplant in 1982, his wife asked the doctors, “will he still be able to love me?”.
Keeping your heart physically, as well as emotionally, fit is important. Your heart is a muscle and needs exercise to help keep it fit so that it can pump blood efficiently around your body. The best thing you can do for your heart is to exercise effectively and consistently. A regular exercise routine can help to:
- Lower blood pressure
- Lessen the risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke
- Maintain healthy body weight
- Build stronger immunity
- Reduce stress, tension and inflammation throughout the body
So, is there a connection between your relationship, the heart and your performance?
Your heart and exercise
Cardio or cardiovascular health relates to the health of the heart and blood vessels. It also relates to the health of organs that are critically dependent on a strong blood supply. Your heart is responsible for circulating nutrients, oxygen and water around your body, as well as supporting your immune system and transporting the body’s messenger chemicals such as hormones.
On a day to day basis, this means good cardio health can help you with everything from sleeping well to processing the food you eat, helping you push harder at the gym and completing the tasks you need to get done at work. In the long term, good heart health can help you to maintain a healthy life in many areas of your body.
The chemical connection
When we fall in love, our body is flooded with feel-good chemicals which can cause our hearts to race, our palms to sweat and our cheeks to flush. This is caused by the release of adrenaline and norepinephrine resulting in an increased heartbeat, restlessness and preoccupation. When we exercise, this same adrenaline chemical release occurs and some studies have shown that increased adrenaline levels can increase carbohydrate metabolism and thus increased glycogen (stored glucose) utilization. This is important because athletes who train hard, likely do so with muscle glycogen stores that are rarely fully replenished. The ability of athletes to train most days of the week, at times completing multiple training sessions each day depend in large part on adequate restoration of muscle glycogen stores.
Adrenaline is also useful when preparing to run a race or play a competitive game because it increases the heart rate. As the heart beats faster, our cardiac output also increases which enables more oxygen to be supplied to the muscles, so the body is able to react more effectively to the demands placed upon it.
Romantic passionate love and Olympic athletes
But it’s not just the release of chemicals that can have an effect on your heart and sports performance. In a recent study the association between love and athletic performance from the perspective of Olympic athletes was explored. The study classified Romantic Passionate Love (RPL) or being “in love” as a euphoric state experienced in relationships cross-culturally. It is characterized by exhilaration, obsessive thoughts, and increased energy. Based on the premise that RPL and athletic performance may both involve the reward-motivation system of the brain, the question was asked, does theactivation in one domain (love) influence the other (sport)?
Of the 20 athletes questioned, the answer was a resounding yes, but not in the way that was expected. Most participants (n = 15) felt their athletic performance was better while in love but the reasons for those who reported improvements tended to focus on non-RPL explanations. Although athletes had been provided with a definition of RPL at the beginning of the interview, their responses reflected companionate, rather than passionate love. High levels of intimacy and commitment rather than passion define companionate love. This resulted in athletes feeling more stable and relaxed in their relationships, leaving them space to train harder and perform better.
How your partner can get involved
When it comes to getting adequate amounts of exercise, there are other ways your partner can help. A growing body of evidence suggests that couples who sweat together really do improve each other’s performance. Here are three ways working out with a partner can help to improve your heart health:
The concept of social facilitation in social psychology states that the mere presence of someone else affects your ability to do an activity (Zajonc, 1965). If you already feel competent doing a particular exercise, bringing along your romantic partner may be a fantastic way to boost your energy output.
Having a partner to hold you accountable ensures that you reach your fitness goals. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2015 found that when one romantic partner made a health-related change for the better, the other was highly likely to follow suit. Make positive changes for your heart and if you’re both committed to exercising regularly and get involved in each other’s health journeys, the odds are high you’ll both stay committed to your programs since you’ll have each other’s backs.
As mentioned above, the psychological responses of exercise –– racing pulse, shortness of breath, sweaty palms –– also mimic romantic attraction pretty closely. Interestingly, most people confuse the two which leads to misattribution of arousal. Take all that extra attraction and do your own kind of “special” cardio routine at home. All exercise is good for the heart, if you catch our drift.
Romantic love doesn’t solve everything
Your heart is one of the hardest working organs in your body, which means it has high energy needs. This energy comes from within your heart cells and is generated by the mitochondria your cells’ power factory.
Mitochondria produce the antioxidant CoQ10 along with free radicals as part of the natural energy production process. When these are in balance, everything is fine but as we age, the mitochondria’s production of CoQ10 can begin to slow down. This can expose the cells to damage, leading to compromised energy production, and a less than optimal cardiovascular system.
Because of these high energy needs, heart muscle cells have one of the highest concentrations of mitochondria. So, you can imagine, it’s important that the mitochondria in your heart are supported and in good working order, so your heart’s cells are strong, and your heart organ can support your exercise and performance.
Let MitoQ help support your heart
Just as your partner is attracted to you, MitoQ is attracted to your heart’s mitochondria cells. MitoQ has been created to be is drawn into the mitochondria in our cells and so accumulates in large quantities in our heart muscle. Once inside our mitochondria, MitoQ provides a huge boost to our natural CoQ10 antioxidant reserves, allowing our mitochondria to get on with the task of properly powering our cells.
Taken daily, this powerful formula is designed to support:
- Healthy heart function
- Optimal cardiovascular performance
- Flexible arteries
So, this year whilst picking out a Valentine’s gift for your partner, think deeper than how they make you feel emotionally and more about the last time you got a PB, lifted an extra set of weights or pushed through another rep at the gym.
While it seems that the brain acts as an important ‘wingman’ in the process, the connection between love and cardiovascular health is undeniable - whether it’s by releasing love-mimicking hormones to support oxygen and blood flow, or psychologically tricking you into pushing harder through your workout. Combine that with the scientifically proven benefits of MitoQ and you are setting your heart up to power through any obstacle you throw at it.