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Do Pushups or Sprinting Make Your Heart Beat Faster?

author image Dan Harriman
Dan Harriman began writing professionally in 2009 and has a varied background in marketing, ranging from sports management to music promotion. Harriman holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism with an emphasis on strategic communications from the University of Kansas and earned the International Advertising Association's diploma in marketing communications.
Do Pushups or Sprinting Make Your Heart Beat Faster?
Sprinting is a high-intensity activity that raises your heart rate quickly. Photo Credit IPGGutenbergUKLtd/iStock/Getty Images

Pushups and sprinting are effective exercises comprised of aerobic and anaerobic elements. Though you may think of pushups as pure strength training, your heart rate increases significantly when performing a pushup routine. Sprinting can help develop your strength while providing an intense cardiovascular workout. While there is no definitive rule for which exercise causes the heart rate to raise more, sprinting is typically a more challenging cardiovascular exercise.

Exercise Intensity

The intensity of exercise has a great impact on heart rate. Naturally, more intense exercises raise the heart rate more significantly than less intense exercises. Exercise intensity can be measured as a combination of pace and the weight load that is to be moved. While this is not a scientific formula, nearly every type of physical exercise consists of these two elements, save isometric exercises, which are performed in a static position. Whether you consider an exercise intense depends on your fitness level and how exhausted you feel after performing the exercise.

Pushup Mechanics

The pushup requires you to push your body weight up using your arms, chest and shoulders, as well as your core muscles to help stabilize your body. This maneuver is generally performed at a slow to moderate pace. It is not necessarily the pace of the pushup that raises your heart rate, but rather the amount of stress placed on your muscles. You may notice that your heart rate rises even if the exercise is performed at a slow pace. The pushup is a strength exercise that primarily relies on your anaerobic system and not your cardiovascular system. While your heart rate increases during a pushup, the increase is typically less than during a sprint.

Sprinting Mechanics

Sprinting entails moving your arms and legs backward and forward vigorously. The amount of energy required to propel yourself forward as fast as you can taxes your system quickly. Your heart rate increases nearly immediately after starting a sprint to deliver the oxygen your body requires. In general, sprinting increases the heart rate faster and higher than pushups, depending on the distance you sprint and the level of your maximum heart rate at which you are performing. Sprinting stresses cardiovascular fitness, which tends to make the heart work harder than during pushups.

Target Heart Rate

You should aim to exercise in your target heart rate zone when doing exercises that are primarily aerobic. Your target heart rate is calculated by first figuring your peak heart rate. For women, peak heart rate is calculated by subtracting 88 percent of the age from 206. For men, the age is subtracted from 220. Effective aerobic exercising requires that you work out at 65 to 85 percent of your peak heart rate. Speak with your doctor before engaging in strenuous physical activity to ensure you are healthy enough to exercise in your target heart rate.

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