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Why are exercises that increase one’s heart rate considered good, but drugs aren’t ?

Drugs like cocaine and meth increase one’s heart rate as they cause an adrenaline rush (sympathetic surge). As far as cocaine is concerned, it not only leads to an increased heart rate but can also cause one’s coronary arteries (the blood vessels that carry blood to one’s heart) to constrict (squeeze), leading to lack of oxygen reaching the cardiac tissues. This leads to heart attacks. In addition to this, cocaine has been shown to accelerate the process of atherosclerosis ie build-up of plaque inside arteries which might lead to heart attacks as well. This leads to aging of arteries extremely fast. It also leads to high blood pressure leading to further head bleeding, aortic dissections and more serious issues.

Regarding physical exercise, a temporary elevation in heart rate is okay, to a degree, but an increasing heart rate while blood pressure stays the same, or increases slightly is not serious. It does not lead to the squeezing and constriction that cocaine can cause. Additionally, with time, with exercise, the resting of one’s heart rate will decrease as the heart becomes more efficient. The human heart is essentially stronger as a result of exercise, so it needs to beat less frequently.



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