You’ve probably seen one of the numerous “Why Do You Run?” surveys that runner magazines or websites promote. Runners love to tell others why they run. For many, running gives them a sense of purpose. For some it results in major health improvements. And others even say that running is life-saving.

Responses range from, “I run so I can listen all the way through The Dark Side of the Moon … twice!” to “I don’t need to pay a therapist as long as I run” to “I had tried to lose weight in every imaginable way. I’ve lost 100 pounds since I started running regularly.”

One thing is for sure, the reason people run is usually intensely personal to them. And another thing is for sure, runners usually enjoy better heart health than people who are inactive.

If you live a sedentary lifestyle, you probably have a resting heart rate between 60 to 100 beats per minute. Athletes who train regularly can have resting heart rates as low as 40. Most runners are somewhere between 45 and 55. If you run, or walk, or do aerobics, or bike, or whatever you do to get your heart rate up, if you stick with it long enough, when your heart calms down it will consistently pump stronger and slower.

A hard working heart with a fast beat increases your chance of getting heart disease or having high blood pressure. A good blood pressure measurement is from 120/80 to 140/90. A bad total is ordinarily above those numbers.

The first number, systolic, measures the pressure in your blood vessels as the heart beats. The second number, diastolic, measures the pressure in your blood vessels between heart beats. Running lowers blood pressure for the same reason it lowers your resting heart rate – when you’re done your heart pumps steady and strong.

No matter how you might respond to a “Why Do You Run?” survey, one result is a strong resting heartbeat, and blood pressure that probably doesn’t worry you … or your doctor.

If you run regularly, for good heart health keep it up. If you haven’t started running yet, it might be time for a change of heart.