Could a Heart Rate Monitor Have Saved Beloved “Sex and the City” Character?

And "Just Like That" could have lived?

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**SPOLIER ALTERT. THIS PIECE CONTAINS SPOILERS FROM THE FIRST EPISODE OF “AND JUST LIKE THAT.”**

It felt eerie getting back on my Peloton bike the morning after watching Mr. Big suffer a heart attack in the shower following his 1,000th ride, a 45-minute workout with a fictional instructor played by real Peloton teacher Jess King, in the first episode of the Sex and the City reboot “And Just Like That.”

Wild cutting between a classical music concert and Big pedaling like a maniac on the bike built to a crescendo ending with an operatic death on the floor of his fabulous Manhattan apartment. The episode was replete with Peloton mentions sprinkled liberally throughout the scenes leading up to it. Mr. Big has a favorite instructor! He’s about to hit his 1,000th ride! Personally, I would not have pegged Mr. Big as someone who cares about a shout out, but apparently I don’t know him that well despite six seasons and two movies. I can easily believe he noticed how attractive the Peloton instructors are.

Mr. Big makes it off the bike and into the shower where he collapses, but is still alive when Carrie comes home. Inexplicably, she does not call 911 or administer CPR. Later, the bike appears in the background somewhat ominously while the characters take care of explaining that exercise didn’t cause Mr. Big to die. He had a heart condition, remember? And he loves steak and cigars and living large, remember?

But, I couldn’t help but wonder, what if Mr. Big had taken the simple step of wearing a heart rate monitor? When I first started riding Peloton, I followed the cadence and resistance commands of the instructors, even though they cautioned to go at my own pace, continuously trying to “PR” (Peloton-speak for your personal record or highest output for a ride). I felt dizzy and nauseated after rides. While my own faulty wisdom suggested drinking more water, my brother, an avid cyclist, suggested a heart rate monitor.

The results were startling. I was regularly pushing past my own maximum heart rate to as high as 108%. I immediately started watching my heart rate and following its cues rather than the instructors’ (which they repeatedly suggest during classes anyway).

 Regular exercise improves heart health, according to the American Heart Association, but too much can cause harm. “Habitual physical activity reduces coronary heart disease events, but vigorous activity can also acutely and transiently increase the risk of sudden cardiac death and acute myocardial infarction in susceptible persons”

When I started monitoring my heart rate and taking care not to go above 100%, the dizziness and nausea disappeared completely along with my PR. An unfortunate side effect of working within my own heart capacity was I can no longer reach my own personal best.

In November, Peloton noted a milestone I “achieved” when it moved me to the 60+ category on my birthday. So, while I now have a lower PR, it’s held by an older woman. While I continue to work toward my own personal best once again, it feels safer to get on my bike and work up to my personal max. And, I wish Mr. Big had done the same.

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