All of our behaviors move in waves. Anxiety and relaxation, eating and not eating, being awake and asleep… those are all are waves of energy. We put the energy out there, and then we recover. These waves are your natural rhythm. They are how your body and mind work together.
This rhythm has been broken by the modern world. You could easily have constant stress and not be able to relax at all. You might not be able to sleep. Or you might have difficulty eating as well as you would like to.
Today I’m going to show you how you can restore the rhythm of your “Heart Wave.” And how that natural rhythm can fix what the modern world has broken.
Train Your Heart to Recover
The story begins with Dr. Irving Dardik. He was the first Chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Sports Medicine Council.
Dr. Dardik had a friend named Jack Kelly, the brother of actress Grace Kelly. Jack was also an Olympic oarsman and the president of the U.S. Olympic Committee. One day he went out for his usual morning run and, shortly after, dropped dead of sudden heart failure.
Dr. Dardik knew that heart attacks often occur after running or jogging – not during the workout. He added that, “People have been running for thousands of years, and they didn’t die like that. It must be something in the way people run now that causes heart failure after exertion.” 1
He also observed that long-distance runners were prone to infections and chronic diseases, especially heart disease. He compared their exercise practices to the habits of native people and animals.
He said that animals and natives in the wild run in short bursts. Then, they take time for recovery. And they repeat this cycle of exertion and recovery. He concluded that long-distance runners die of heart attacks because they have not trained their hearts to recover. This is the same conclusion I reported in my bestselling book PACE: The 12-Minute Fitness Revolution.
Your Natural Heart Wave
These observations of cycles lead Dr. Dardik to his fascinating concept of viewing heart exertion and recovery as a wave – the “Heart Wave.”
When you begin to exert yourself, your heart rate begins to climb. When you stop, it begins to come back down. Think about that. If you plot these changing rates going up then down through time, it does indeed form a wave.
Inside that overall wave of exertion, you have smaller waves from each heart beat.
You can think of each heartbeat as a wave, too, because each one is actually an alternating wave of exertion (systole) and recovery (diastole). Dardik was the first to see these as “waves within waves.” The picture below will help you visualize the concept.
An expanding Heart Wave, represented by the top wave in the graph, means an increase in your heart’s power to beat faster when you need it, and increased heart rate variability (HRV), which means better health. A limited Heart Wave – the low wave in the graph – means less heart power, lower HRV, and poor health.
So why should you care about these waves?
Because if you mimic the natural rhythms of your heart (your Heart Wave), and exert yourself with periods of exertion and recovery, you gradually increase your heart rate variability, or HRV.
The greater your HRV, the better your overall health. The more limited your HRV, the greater your risk of chronic disease.2
And when Dr. Dardik did a study on the benefits of using short periods of exertion followed by rest to restore your Heart Wave, non-athletic women in the study also gained:
- Greater Lung Volume
- Lower Blood Pressure
- Improved Immune Function
- Lower Stress and Anxiety
- Greater Sense of Energy and Well-Being
All of these changes were in just 8 weeks. To quote Dardik, “Cyclic exercise really worked in reversing disease.”3
Your 12-Minute Plan for Reconnecting
to the Rhythms of Life
You can choose any activity that will provide exertion for your heart. An elliptical machine, bicycle, jump rope, trampoline or alternating sprinting and walking will work well.
To maximize your Heart Wave and restore the natural rhythm of your body, keep your exertion periods brief – from 30 seconds to 4 minutes is enough. Immediately after you finish a brief sprint, put the emphasis on your recovery.
Instead of merely resting, participate in the process by calming your mind and imagining your heart rate slowing down.
To help with this, focus on each exhalation. As you breathe out, use your imagination to bring your heart rate down. In your mind’s eye, see your heart relaxing – slowly and steadily returning to its resting rate.
When your heart rate recovers, do another set of exertion. Repeat this one more time, and with just those three sets – no more than 12 minutes of total exertion – you’re done for the day.
Remember, the natural rhythm of life is exertion and recovery. What happens during recovery is the key to restoring your Heart Wave rhythm.
You see, after you exert yourself, you melt extra calories as your body repairs muscles and stores energy in them, and begins to restore your natural rhythms, or what you probably think of as your metabolism.
Since this can take from several hours to a full day, your metabolism gets ramped up, and you keep on melting calories long after the workout is over.
A Colorado State University study measured the changes induced by exerting yourself in this natural way. People did sets lasting two minutes, followed by one minute of rest. The researchers found that people were still melting fat at an increased rate 16 hours after they exerted themselves! At rest, their fat-melting rate was up by 62 percent.4
This doesn’t happen with endurance exercises like running or cardio. With those, you keep going and going past the point where you would normally stop and recover. It’s not natural, which explains why Dr. Dardik and I both observed that endurance runners are more likely to get infections and chronic diseases.
Your body was designed to follow the wave patterns that make up almost everything in life. Exert the energy, then rest. Then repeat. Modern exercise breaks that cycle.
I designed P.A.C.E. to restore these natural cycles of movement, or, as Dr. Dardik might say, to restore your Heart Wave.
This is why we already have 70,000 people doing P.A.C.E., and this is why I like to talk to you about it often.
And now that I’ve created my new PACE Express program, you have an even easier way to mimic your natural Heart Wave rhythm so you can live younger and healthier.
If you’re doing P.A.C.E. now or have ever read my P.A.C.E. book,
take a minute to watch this video.
1. Lewin, R. “Tuning Biorhythms through Cyclic Exercise.” Holistic Primary Care. Spring 2006.
2. Dardik, I. “The Origin of Disease and Health Heart Waves.” CYCLES Vol.46,No.3,1996.
3. Lewin,R. “Making Waves: Irving Dardik and his Superwave Pinciple.” Rodale, 2005.
4. Osterberg KL and Melby CL. “Effect of acute resistance exercise on postexercise oxygen consumption…” International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2000 Mar; 10(1):71-81.