How to Lower Your Resting Heart Rate
Learning how to lower your resting heart rate (RHR) is a thorough, comprehensive approach to improving your overall health and well being. A lower RHR indicates that your heart is not being overworked in its effort to deliver oxygenated blood and nutrients to every part of your body.
Conversely, a high RHR means that your cardiovascular system is under constant duress which can weaken your heart over time. This places you at risk for developing heart disease which is one of the leading causes of death in North America. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to lower your RHR which in turn will improve your quality of life. Adopting a lifestyle focused on daily exercise and stress reduction while avoiding tobacco and maintaining a healthy weight can set you on the path to heart-healthy living.
Elevation Leads to Reduction
As counter-intuitive as it might seem, exercise that increases your immediate heart rate actually reduces your RHR over time. A normal RHR for adults is 60 to 100 beats per minute (BPM). The lower your heart rate, the better cardiovascular shape you are in. Part of learning how to lower your resting heart rate is finding a form of exercise that is right for you, and monitoring your progress on a daily basis through wearable tech.
Run for Your Life
Moderate intensity continuous training (MICT) exercises such as hiking, jogging, cycling and swimming are excellent ways to increase the efficiency of your heart and lungs. These activities increase blood flow and the volume of blood that is delivered into the left ventricle of the heart with each beat. This causes it to expand over time to process more blood per beat with less effort, thus, reducing the beats per minute.
Time to “HIIT” the Gym
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is another form of exercise that reduces your RHR over time. This is done in short, intense bursts of “sprinting” type activity interspersed with short rest periods. HIIT can be done with running, cycling, kettlebells, swimming, bodyweight circuits, Crossfit routines and many other exercises. The dynamic at work here is the burst-and-recover activity makes your heart continually go from working hard to resting to working hard again. This builds the heart muscle itself as well as the blood cycling capacity, which enables your heart to pump blood easier when you are at rest.
Resistance training and weightlifting can also be effective in lowering your RHR (although not to the degree of cardiovascular exercise) as they force muscles to contract — such as the quadriceps — when performing a barbell front squat. This causes the arteries and vessels in your thighs to close and re-open which increases blood pressure throughout the body. This dynamic action forces the left ventricle that receives oxygen-depleted blood from the muscles to strengthen over time, expanding its capacity to process blood more efficiently which lowers your RHR.
Don’t Stress Out
If you want to lower your resting heart rate, the stress factors in your daily life must be addressed. Mental and physical stress cause a neural response known as the fight-or-flight syndrome wherein your brain and major muscles prepare to exert themselves by fighting, running or both. You probably deal with stressful stimuli many dozens of times a day in the way of texts, emails, phone calls, traffic jams, human interactions and the overarching demands of your job. Every time these events occur, the adrenalin released into your system causes your heart rate to spike, which, over time, can lead to high blood pressure. You can learn to control your emotional response to stress by utilizing relaxation techniques available through meditation and yoga. Relaxing in the face of stress rather than overreacting requires time and discipline, but also offers a unique opportunity to monitor your heart’s response to stress through wearable tech. Regular exercise has also been proven to reduce stress, as the endorphins released during physical activity can improve your mood. Another aspect of stress is that it can trigger negative behaviors — such as smoking — which can offer temporary relief but will most certainly not lower your resting heart rate.
Smoking and the use of other tobacco products causes your major arteries to tighten, makes your heart rate increase and raises your blood pressure. These have a negative effect on your RHR, as your heart must work harder to deliver blood through constricted passageways. The tar and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke can trigger the buildup of fatty plaque in the arteries — a condition known as atherosclerosis which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Reducing the amount you smoke, and eventually quitting altogether can lower your resting heart rate while mitigating your risk of lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and peripheral vascular disease. A great way to stay motivated as you quit is to monitor the improvement in your RHR through smart garments that track your biometrics throughout each day.
Weigh Your Options
Maintaining a healthy weight is directly linked to your resting heart rate. If you are not carrying a bunch of extra fatty tissue, your heart does not have to work as hard to deliver blood to unnecessary dimensions of your body. Thankfully, there is a synergistic connection between exercise, stress reduction, avoiding cigarettes and keeping the weight off. All of these activities enable one another — working out burns calories, lower stress decreases the urge to smoke, a healthy weight encourages more exercise and so on. The fundamental principle of body weight control is to burn more calories than you consume. Fancy diets tend to complicate this fact and distort the simplicity of the matter. When choosing your diet, it is also important to do your body a favor and avoid processed foods that require extra work to break down while delivering little or no nutrition. If you embark on a mission to lose weight and lower your heart rate, you can track your progress by monitoring your daily activity, body fat and other biometrics through technology-enabled bodywear.
Working to lower your RHR is an essential step in the endeavour to live a long, healthy life. You can optimize your efforts and maximize the effectiveness of your journey through wearable tech that monitors your biometrics — keeping you informed and in control as you lower your resting heart rate.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.