|1 Billion Heartbeats - The length of a lifetime.|
|Written by Taty Sena|
So the length of a lifetime... 1 billion heartbeats. Not a human life alone, apparently the lifespan of all amphibians, birds, fish, mammals and reptiles can be counted in number of heartbeats, and that number is about 1 billion.
How can that be, you say? Humans live in average 65 years, hamsters in average 3 years and Artic whales as many as 150 years, but the number of heartbeats stay the same.
Because whales can have as few as 10 heartbeats a minute and hamsters as many as 450, during a lifespan the number of beats averages, still, at about 1 billion.
At the rate of 70 beats per minute, humans shouldn't be living past young adulthood, and that what true for most of our history and is still the case for many parts of the world, like Swaziland, Botswana and Lesotho in Africa, with life spans between 33 and 35 years. Developments in health treatments and sanitation have expended that to about twice as much, but the natural connection remains intact.
A little bit of the science behind it:
These measurements started in the 1930s, work of Swiss-born chemist Max Kleiber.
The Kleiber Ratio determines that for every creature, the amount of energy burned per unit of weight is proportional to that animals mass raised to the three-quarters power. Symbolically: if q0 is the animal's metabolic rate, and M the animal's mass, then Kleiber's law states that q0 ~ M3/4.
Thus a cat, having a mass 100 times that of a mouse, will have a metabolism roughly 31 times greater than that of a mouse.
Kleiber Ratio’s is universal: “There’s this exquisite interconnectivity. All the structures have different forms and functions, but all of them adhere to the same scaling pattern.” Capillaries grow into veins and arteries according to the same three-quarter-power scale. So also do neural fibers by becoming whole nerves then becoming nerve bindles. From the mitochondria to the cell to the blue whale, the rule holds through twenty-seven orders of magnitude.
What about exercise and stress?
Now, if the numbers are right, then by increasing our exercise and consequently our heart rate, we would be reducing our life span, but we know that the opposite is true. Why is that?
Let's say you ran a marathon with a heart rate of probably around 150 bpm for the 6 hours it takes to run 26 miles, so in a quarter of a day you'd have used up just over a half a day's worth of heartbeats! Then why exercise?
Let's say you started running three years ago with an average heartrate of 72 bpm. Let’s assume that you lived your first 28 years at that heart rate, which means you've used up 1.06 billion of your life’s heartbeats in that span. Now let’s assume that you keep exercising for the rest of your life and that being in good shape you bring your heart rate to 56 bpm, so if you keep that up for the remaining 1.94 billion heart beats you would live another 69 years to the age of 94 which is an increase in lifespan of about 15 years. Each year exercising 3 to 4 times a week costs you one week of heartbeats, but the improved fitness adds about 13 weeks to you life expectancy.
Now, your heart rate can also be increased by stress, without any of the benefits of exercise and meditation can dramatically decrease the number of used beats per minute.
So what does that mean?
What does this connection mean? Why is that apparently built into the genes of all mammals? How can this play into lifestyle, personal choices, peace of mind?
The answer might lie in the creation and purpose of life itself...