Heart rate is a measure of the number of times a person's heart beats per minute. According to MayoClinic.com, a normal resting heart rate, also known as pulse, ranges from 60 to 100 beats. Numerous factors can influence a person's heart rate, including activity level, fitness level, air temperature, altitude, body position, emotions, body size and certain medications. The type and intensity of activity a person performs also can influence her heart rate.
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The human heart is a shell-shaped muscle and organ that pumps blood, via the arteries and other blood vessels, to the body's organs and tissues, and is one of the strongest muscles. Cardiac muscle, the muscle that composes the heart, contracts 60 to 100 times per minute when a person is at rest. Heart rate is largely involuntary, which means that most humans do not have a significant degree of control over how often the heart beats per minute while at rest.
A person's pulse or heart rate can fluctuate based on the activities he is performing. According to the Cleveland Clinic Health System, a person's pulse is lower when he is at rest and higher during exercise. Heart rate is higher during exercise because more oxygen is required by the body's tissues, especially the skeletal muscles, the muscles that move the body. Oxygen enters the body through the lungs and travels to the muscles via red blood cells. In order to meet the physiological demand for oxygen during exercise, the heart has to quicken its pumping to send more blood to the working tissues.
Certain activities pose significant physiological challenges for the body's circulatory system. Stair climbing, while a common activity, also can be a form of exercise. In fact, stair climbing, when performed as a method of exercise, is one of the most challenging types of physical activity. The American Council on Exercise, or ACE, touts intermittent stair climbing as a potent method for improving cardiovascular health and fitness. A person's heart rate when climbing stairs will increase significantly. Over time, with continued training, a person's maximum heart rate when stair climbing might lessen because the body is more efficient and less energy is required to perform the same amount of work.
Numerous health and fitness benefits are associated with stair climbing. According to ACE, stair climbing can reduce a person's resting heart rate, decrease oxygen uptake and reduce blood lactate levels during vigorous physical activity. Stair climbing can also boost HDL cholesterol, also known as good cholesterol. The health and fitness benefits associated with stair climbing also include improved muscle strength and endurance. As a person's fitness levels improve, she might even experience a mood-leveling effect and an increased sense of well-being.
Stair climbing can have a beneficial effect on heart rate and other fitness and health markers, although a person with a medical condition or someone who has been sedentary for a prolonged period should consult his physician before beginning an exercise program. The vigorous and demanding nature of stair climbing could be problematic for some people. A person who has recently had surgery, such as hip replacement surgery, should schedule a visit with his doctor to discuss exercise options.