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Why All Runners Should Take A CPR Class

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Knowing how to properly do CPR can save someone's life at a race, at the gym or when out for a run. Why All Runners Should Take A CPR Class www.runnerclick.com

Take a look at the runners lined up at starting line at your next race. From appearance only, these people look fit and prepared to be able to go the distance. But what would you do if you start the run and suddenly someone clenches their check then falls down to this ground? If the person becomes unresponsive and stops breathing they need CPR. And while there are usually medical professionals on course, taking action immediately can help save their life. This is why all runners should take CPR class. 

Being a runner doesn’t necessarily mean we are heart healthy. Regular exercise like running does promote heart health, lowering blood pressure and the amount of bad cholesterol in the blood.

According to a 2014 study published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology, those who ran 30 to 59 minutes a week reduced the risk of cardiovascular health by an impressive 58 percent compared to those who don’t run. And since heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., taking care of our hearts is so important.

And while there could be plaque build up in the arteries to cause heart issues, other factors include abnormal heart rhythms and genetics. This means even seemingly active and healthy people can suffer from sudden cardiac arrest.

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Heart Attack vs Cardiac Arrest

Many people think cardiac arrest and a heart attack are one of the same. They are actually different heart conditions.

A heart attack happens when a clot in one of the arteries prevents blood flow to the heart. The heart thus needs to compensate and continues to pump blood, which causes the pan in the chest. Common symptoms of a heart attack are chest discomfort, numbness in one or both arms, discomfort in the neck, jaw or back between the shoulder blades.

Cardiac arrest occurs when there is an arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat. The abnormal rhythm of the heart causes the heart to shake much like a seizure does to the body. The heart no longer is able to pump blood to the brain, lungs and vital organs.

When a person is in cardiac arrest they immediately become unresponsive. This means they are unconscious and not breathing. It is crucial for their survival to immediately get CPR and an AED.

What To Expect At A CPR Class

Taking a CPR class is beneficial no matter if the person is a runner or not. It is a great skill set to have. A CPR-certified person knows what to expect in case of this kind of emergency and how to help the person. This knowledge is extremely powerful since it can save a life.

There are CPR and AED certification classes held across the U.S. Search online for a reputable program offered by the American Heart Association. Classes like the AMA’s Heartsaver CPR AED one are generally three hours long. Upon completing the class, participants are given their certification card electronically within three to five business days. The certification is good for two years.

During the class, the instructor discusses when to give CPR, what to do in case of an emergency and how to properly administer it.

The class usually consists of an instructional video, lecture from the instructor and hands-on training on a dummy.

What Is CPR And How To Do It

CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, consists of two steps: compressions and breaths.

When an emergency occurs first assess the scene to make sure it is safe to help. Then tap on the person and shout, asking if they are okay. This tests their responsiveness. If there is no response, check to see if they are breathing. See if their chest is moving. Count five to 10 seconds, and if not yell for help. Tell someone to call 9-1-1, and someone else to get the AED.

Bare the chest and place hands in this middle of the chest on the breast bone and start compressions. Do about 100 to 120 compressions per minute. Count them out loud. Follow the 30, 2 rule, counting 30 compressions then two breathes. Do not interrupt compressions for more than 10 seconds.

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It’s important to push hard enough, down at least two inches. This can become very tiresome. Do five rounds of 30 compressions and two breaths and switch off to someone else until paramedics arrive.

What Is An AED And How To Use It

An AED, or Automated External Defibrillator, is a machine that detects abnormal rhythms of the heart. It automatically assesses the person and provides a shock only if they need it. The shock essentially reboots the heart. Use of an AED is crucial for saving a life. CPR alone keeps blood pumping and oxygen getting to the organs, but the AED actually gets the heart back pumping on its own. All first responders have AEDs on hand.

If performing CPR at home or when there is no AED present, continue with compressions and breaths until more experienced help arrives at the scene. Gyms, schools, nursing homes, some supermarkets, and malls typically have AED devices.

Image by paulbr75 on Pixabay.

Ask someone to get the AED while starting CPR. Once it arrives, place the machine next to the person’s heard. Open the box and it will either turn on automatically or push the power. It then provides detailed instructors on what to do.

This includes placing the pads on the upper right and lower left to the person and not touching their body while it makes its assessment. It may then shock so stay clear and do not touch. After the shock, it will instruct for CPR. Continue to use both until help arrives.

Reasons Why Runners Should Take A CPR Class

Runners should take a CPR class because they are often in situations where people might suffer from an emergency. This includes the gym and races. Physical activity can cause stress on the muscles, and since the heart is a muscle, those with a predisposed condition might suffer from sudden cardiac arrest.

General first aid knowledge is important in order to be prepared if faced with an injury or witnessing someone get injured. CPR classes are so beneficial because often people panic in these types of situations. Taking a class teaches not only how to do CPR, but also how to do it properly. It helps build that confidence in this worst-case scenario.

Besides the main reason why runners should take a CPR class, to potentially be able to save a life, here are some more reasons:

  1. To gain heart health knowledge that can be applied to their own wellness
  2. To know the warning signs that someone is in trouble
  3. To handle nerves and prevent going into panic mode when someone is in this type of distress
  4. To learn how to properly do CPR
  5. To learn how to be the most helpful in this situation while waiting for help

CPR certifications are often required to become a track coach, even when volunteering. These classes often teach other skills like how to administer CPR on a child or infant, as well as how to help someone when choking.


  1. Kim Dinan, Here’s How Running Affects Your Heart, Health Website