The New Year was here in heartbeat

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year is here; 2013 left and 2014 arrived.

As I sit here, I realize that if I am still and quiet and concentrate, I feel my heart beating in my chest. I place my finger on my wrist and I count those thumps going on in my chest.

It is a nice steady rhythm letting me know my blood is pumping and circulating.

Then when I pay attention, I know I am breathing. The rise and fall of my chest tells me my lungs are working and I’m getting the oxygen I need to stay alive.

As I move from my computer to the kitchen, I notice my feet; feel them press into the solid floor under me. Each step reminds me that my muscles are working together to get me where I want to go.

So what does my heart beating, my lungs breathing and my feet moving have to do with the arrival of a New Year — a lot actually.

The other day I saw a commercial that got me thinking about this as it relates to the coming of 2014. In the advertisement, and I don’t remember what it advertised, the sound of a heart beating played in the background while a host of different scenes passed in review. A voice said something about living fully, and it made me smile. That’s when I started wondering about heartbeats etc. So here are some fun facts.

The average heart beats 80 to 100 beats per minute at rest. For every minute that passes by, a normal human adult takes 12 to 20 breathes. On average, women walk at 3 miles per hour, men 3.5 miles per hour. Assuming the average pace is about 3 to 4 feet, this would equate to about 5280 paces per hour or about one to two steps per second.

If you extend those numbers out, at an average rate of 80 times a minute, the heart beats about 115,000 times in one day. A normal adult takes about 720 to 1,200 breaths an hour, 17,280 to 28,800 a day. And, the average moderately active person takes about 7,500 steps a day.

So, continuing with the math. A heart beats about 42 million times in a year. (That would increase based on exercise upping the heart rate). On average, this next year a fairly healthy person will take 6,307,200 to 10,512,000 breaths and will walk between 2 and 3 million steps.

In an average lifetime, the heart beats more than 3 billion times, a person takes more than 600 million breathes and walks about 108,131 miles. That sounds like a lot of beating, breathing and stepping, but it sure passes quickly.

Ancient yogis taught that we measure life by the number of breaths we take and poet Maya Angelou once said, “Life is not measured by how many breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” Both views point us toward considering what we are doing with our precious lives.

So today, we begin a brand new year with its possibility of 42 million heartbeats, 6,307,200 to 10,512,000 breaths and 2 to 3 million steps. Notice I said “possibility” not promise.

Some people who started 2013 with the possibility of living out the year, did not see it end. Some who begin 2014 may not have quite so many heartbeats or breaths as they think.

And, that takes me back to that commercial with its beating heart sound effect and the voice encouraging us to live fully. It also returns me, with a renewed appreciation for the gift of life, to the sound of my own heartbeat, the feel of my own breathing and the movement of my own feet.

Yes, 2014 is here and Happy New Year, we are alive to see it arrive. So, on this first day of the year, I wish for us all 12 months of steady heartbeats, full breaths and joyful steps.