I am by no means educated in physical fitness or health.

Besides the difference of "exercising", what is the difference between having a high heart rate from doing a cardio workout versus having a high heart rate from emotions?

Confrontation, Fear, Nervousness ... These emotions elicit a response from the body that increases heart rate often for an extended period of time.

Could being pissed off and storming around the room for a half hour be a workout equivalent of walking around the block?

2 Answers 2


A similar question was asked of Cecil Adams in his Straight Dope column about the differences in heart rate between exercising and caffeine. I think that the central takeaway is similar in both cases. Cardio exercise is not about raising the heart rate — that's just a handy metric for measuring relative effort — but about exercising all of the systems of the body, training them to work efficiently together. Raising your heart rate through caffeine or emotion is like revving your car engine. It consumes fuel. It adds strain to the system. It doesn't actually do anything very useful.

Your proposed workout would give you some small amount of exercise, but no more than stomping through the room would have done before, and you're increasing your stress hormone levels, which has notable negative effects.


Eliminate the work of storming around the room.

Yes the heart is a muscle and working that muscle works that muscle.
It is a very important muscle but it is a relatively small efficient muscle. The heart alone does not consume a lot of calories.

If you are working legs and the legs ask for fuel and oxygen and that causes the heart to beat faster that is different. Now you are working the legs, lungs, and the heart.

The heart rate will also elevate to help cool the body. The vessel dilates on you pump more blood near the surface of the skin.

You will see some misguided analysis that you burn more calories in a hot Yoga as the heart rate is elevated. They take a simple metric heart rate = calories.

  • Down vote care to comment?
    – paparazzo
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 15:12
  • I did not downvote, but I don't think you've answered his question of what the difference is between an elevated heartbeat due to exercise and one due to emotion. I think that you may be trying to say the same thing as me, that exercise isn't really about the heart, but your phrasing is confusing and seems like it's jumping from one topic to the next.
    – Sean Duggan
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 16:58
  • OK fair comment. The difference is if the the heart is delivering fuel or not.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 17:04

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