Your resting heart rate can be one of the many indicators of your cardiovascular health, but it is also one that you can influence through lifestyle changes and exercise. How to lower your resting heart rate will vary from one individual to another, but there are some basic methods you can try.
What Is A Resting Heart Rate?
Your resting heart rate is the rate that your heart beats over a minute when you are at rest. Generally, the lower this number is, the better as it can be an indication of certain health factors, and a higher resting heart rate can indicate a potential health issue that needs to be addressed.
A normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute, but this can vary based on the individual and their activity level. For example, a highly trained athlete can have a heart rate that is lower, even as low as 40 beats per minute, and still be considered healthy.
A resting heart rate over 100 beats per minute can indicate a health problem, or perhaps an event or stressor that has triggered your heart rate to increase. It's not a good idea to attempt to get a resting heart rate if the following are true:
The best time to take your resting heart rate is early in the day, and preferably in the morning before you’ve even gotten out of bed. Before you get out of bed you can be sure that your heart rate will be lowest because you haven’t put any strain on your body, there are fewer external factors to consider, and you are most likely to be in a calm state.
There are several factors that can alter your resting heart rate and it may be best to speak with your doctor if you have several of these factors and are concerned about the health of your cardiovascular system.
Your age and fitness level are typically very good ways to alter your resting heart rate, but they aren’t the only methods for how to lower resting heart rate in adults. If you’re a smoker, you may be able to lower your resting heart rate simply by quitting smoking.
Additionally, if you have any kind of cardiovascular abnormalities or disease, it's a good idea to speak with your doctor if your resting heart rate is above the normal range or before you take any steps to lower it. Medications can also influence your resting heart rate, and some can radically speed it up or slow it down.
Your overall body size and position can also alter your resting heart rate, and sometimes these individual factors can limit your options when it comes to how to lower resting heart rate. Other factors that can affect your resting heart rate include the air temperature, emotions, whether or not you are under stress, and your diet.
If your heart rate is above normal, you may experience different symptoms and should seek out medical attention immediately. Symptoms can include lightheadedness whether or not you are sitting or walking, chest pain, and a feeling of weakness over part or all of your body.
You may also feel faint, or experience pain in the area of your heart. Some individuals also experience that not enough blood is flowing to their arms or legs, and others may experience a lower than normal blood pressure.
How to Lower Your Resting Heart Rate
Establishing what your resting heart rate is and figuring out how to lower it can be an easy process that doesn’t require special tools. There are easy steps you can take once you have a baseline measurement that can result in a lower resting heart rate in as little as a couple of weeks or less.
Getting a Baseline
The first step for how to lower resting heart rate in an adult is to check your heart rate a few times right after you wake up in the morning to get an accurate baseline reading of what your resting heart rate is.
One or two readings may not be enough, and you’ll want to count your heartbeats for a full minute and make a note of any skipped beats or uneven rhythms. If your heart skips several beats, or the rhythm is not consistent, you may want to inform your doctor.
The best place to check your heart rate is at the wrist or the neck by using your pointer and middle finger. Press firmly, but not too firmly, and count the beats for a full minute. Once you have done this for a few days in a row, you can see whether or not the numbers are about the same and continue to use techniques to lower your resting heartbeat.
Methods for Lowering Your Heart Rate for a Moment
If you need to lower your resting heart rate because it has spiked during a specific moment, there are several methods that you can try that will provide some temporary relief. The first thing you can do is take a deep breath and make sure that you are in a comfortable environment that is suitably cool.
Higher temperatures, humidity, and being in these environments for a prolonged period, can lead to increased blood flow throughout your body and this can increase your resting heart rate as well. You can cool down by drinking fluids, moving to another area, applying cool compresses, and resting.
If you have experienced a stressful event, or a moment that is very high in emotional upset of any kind, this can increase your heart rate dramatically. To counter this event, you can try removing yourself to another calmer area, engage in deep breathing techniques, and try to rest your body.
If you are prone to anxiety attacks, these measures may not be sufficient, and it’s important to keep in mind that it's best to be patient when attempting to recover from an emotional event. Pushing yourself towards being calmer may actually backfire and make you feel more anxious overall.
If you are constantly moving from a sitting to standing position quickly, this can increase your heart rate for a few reasons. The first is that you are engaging in activity and your body needs the extra blood flow to accommodate the exercise and movement, and the second is that when you stand up too quickly your heart rate increases.
The way to combat this is to make sure that you are standing up more slowly in order to prevent dizziness and an increase in heart rate.
If you will be standing and sitting several times over a short period, it is best to stand up slowly whenever possible to minimize the change to your heart rate during this time. You may also want to try to remain standing with set intervals for resting.
A Lower Resting Heart Rate Over Time
To lower your heart rate more permanently so you can enjoy the effects over a long period of time, there are several measures that you can take that will have a positive impact. The first is to exercise regularly and engage your cardiovascular system through some kind of heart strengthening exercise.
This exercise can be something simple like walking, or yoga, as long as it gets your blood circulating and brings up your heart rate. For the best effect you’ll want to establish what your maximum heart rate should be, and then determine what your target heart rate during exercise should be based on whether your exercise is light, moderate, or intense.
The second part of this metric is how quickly your heart rate returns to its resting rate after you’ve exercised. This time will vary greatly from one individual to another, and can largely be due to your age, your level of health, and other conditions that you might have.
By exercising you can improve your resting heart rate over time, and you can also improve the rate at which your heart rate returns to normal after exercising. A study done on 2500 people found that how you recover from exercise can indicate your potential risk for death long term.
A good diet rich in fish may also help to lower your overall resting heart rate according to a study done on 10,000 European men. The men that consumed more fish in their diets had better heart rates even after the data was adjusted to account for factors such as physical activity, age, and smoking.
Lastly, being aware of what factors can cause your heart rate to rise and finding suitable ways to avoid them on a consistent basis can help you lower your resting heart rate. Some of these factors are emotion based, some are environmental, and some will stem from health conditions such as anemia, thyroid issues, injury, and heart damage or trauma.
If you have any health conditions, its best to discuss with your doctor before you engage in any exercises designed to reduce your existing heart rate. Walking is a safe form of exercise for many individuals, and positive dietary changes are another option as well.