Pixel Tracker

Wednesday, February 20 , 2019, 6:27 pm | Mostly Cloudy 51º

Q&A with K & A

Fun and Fit: Be Still My Beating (Cardio) Heart

Keeping your head above your heart during cardio activity also keeps your muscles and brain at peace

Dear Fun and Fit: Why do cardio fitness teachers always say to “keep your head above your heart” when bending down?

Fun and Fit:Q and A with K and A, aka Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA, and Alexandra Williams, MA
Fun and Fit: Q and A with K and A, aka Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA, and Alexandra Williams, MA

— Babs in Santa Barbara

Alexandra: Hi, Babs. We cardio teachers say this because we want to know exactly to whom we will be giving rescue breathing when you pass out. If your lipstick doesn’t match ours, we will have to make a split-second decision about whether to rush over and commence the ol’ huff and puff to bring color back into your vibrant (yet probably somewhat clammy, at this point) face.

And why should we be in a position to provide rescue breathing? There you were, just exercising away, enjoying the heck out of “Mack the Knife” being played on the sound system. “Babs,” your personal wiring system says, “You are working hard. As a reward, your muscle cells shall now demand increased oxygen. Because your muscles are so bossy and demanding, we won’t argue. Instead, we will increase your heart rate and blood flow so your muscles will like us and continue to take us nice places.”

Well, let’s say you drop your head below your heart. While your head is inverted, you don’t realize that you’ve just invested in real estate and gotten yourself a lovely pool. It’s red and is in your head. Along with that increased blood pressure.

Kymberly: Did anyone follow that? Then you must have diminished oxygen supply to your brain, because I got lost somewhere around “Hi, Babs.” Or Alexandra got her heart rate up answering, then suddenly stopped and dropped — while still typing. Twin translation provided here: Cardio exercise involves raising the heart rate. An uppity heart rate provides more oxygen to working muscles and the brain. (We are hoping the brain is working during all that activity. Always makes exercise more interesting.)

Heart rate up, then head suddenly down puts gravity in charge. (See “Perky, Not Saggy” for more on overcoming the effects of gravity). Blood rushes to head. Whoa, feeling dizzy. Lots of pressure from rapidly pumping blood and increased blood volume. Then you lift your head above your heart again and Wham! Gravity takes over once more, leaving you lightheaded. Your heart pumped out the oxygen, but you just started a fight between gravity and your brain for the game of “Who gets the oxygen?” Need I say more?

Article Image
An accelerated heart rate provides more oxygen to the working muscles and the brain.

A: Don’t talk to me about pressure. Do you know how many nights I’ve stayed up, afraid to drop my head and anger my muscles? The last time they got mad, they moved my joints all over the place and I ended up walking uphill. Both directions!

K: OK, I do need to say more. First, Alexandra, pull your head up and out. Second, since in all my years of teaching I have never had to rescue someone from the dreaded “head below heart/pass out” syndrome, I think this cue is really an excuse to see who’s listening and who is clock watching. Always listen to your instructor, especially if she looks like one of us.

A: Well, I am obviously more special as I have had to deal with the “Thar she blows” syndrome. Sadly, twas I. Yup, I had given blood and thought it would be an excellent idea to do a high-intensity class. My brain didn’t agree and decided to depart for an “out of body” experience. Do you know how hard it is to give yourself rescue breathing when you are not fully, er, present? Ka-plonk!

By the way, yesterday a colleague suggested I would live longer if I decreased my stress and pressure. I said I was all for that. I want to live longer so I have more time to be stressed and worried. What?

— Identical twins and fitness pros Kymberly Williams-Evans and Alexandra Williams have been in the fitness industry since the first aerobics studio opened on the European continent. They teach, write, edit, emcee and present their programs worldwide on land, sea and airwaves. They co-write Fun and Fit: Q and A with K and A. You can currently find them in action leading classes in Santa Barbara and Goleta. Kymberly is the former faculty minor adviser at UCSB for its fitness instruction degree offered through the Department of Exercise & Sport Studies; Alexandra serves as an instructor and master teacher for the program. Fun and Fit answers real questions from real people, so please send your comments and questions to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Talk to Us!

Please take Noozhawk's audience survey to help us understand what you expect — and want — from us. It'll take you just a few minutes. Thank you!

Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.