Want to know if your heart’s in good shape but you’d rather forego the expensive and time-consuming visit to a cardio-pulmonary specialist?

Well, you can always do what an Alaska fitness freak and triathlete did last week: Strap on a heart-rate monitor and then have an up-close-and-personal encounter with a charging grizzly bear.


Of course, he didn’t plan for it to happen like that.

In all of his years as a forester in the Alaska bush, Rick Rogers had never been threatened by a grizzly bear—or any other wilderness critter, for that matter.

But last week, while he was training in a heavily used Anchorage public park, the 50-year-old Rogers experienced his first run-in with a big Alaska brown bear. And worse yet, it was a large sow grizzly with two young cubs.

Fortunately, the competitive skier was not injured in the attack.

What makes Rogers’ encounter absolutely unique is the fact that he was able to obtain medical data from a human/bear experience—information that probably had never been collected before.

You see, the hard-core runner was wearing a heart rate monitor, one like many athletes utilize for training purposes.

Craig Medred, the fine outdoors editor for the Anchorage Daily News, caught up with Rogers and got the whole story.

Rogers told the reporter that he thought his maximum possible heart rate was 180. After the incident, when he referred to the monitor, he realized he’d hit 193 during the peak of the encounter.

“You hear about people dying of fright,” he said. “Well, this was scary, and I’ve the data to prove it. I think it aged me about five years.”

So the Alaskan now knows that his heart is in top shape and can withstand just about anything he can muster.

As for me, I think I’ll just keep visiting my friendly general practitioner, where that cute young nurse checks my pulse and makes my old ticker flutter—ever so slightly.