Knowing how to lower resting heart rate is extremely important for long-term health and there are many ways to maintain a healthy resting heart rate, including intense cardio exercises, getting healthy sleep, indulging in massages, adding fish oil to your diet, urinating regularly, quitting smoking, lowering stress, and much more.
What is High Resting Heart Rate?
When we exercise or exert ourselves, our heart rate rises, resulting in a high resting heart rate. The same thing happens when we are in stressful situations or when we get excited. While elevated heart rates are normal in some circumstances, it is important that our resting heart rate remains at a manageable rate.
Your heart rate is measured in beats per minute, and a resting heart rate is your pulse when your body is completely at rest. Imagine sitting in your office, working on something rather peaceful, stress-free, and yet your heart is beating furiously. This is an unnecessary strain which can wear down your heart, and also lets you know that something may be seriously wrong with your cardiovascular system.
Fortunately, the importance of a low, balanced resting heart rate is well known, and a significant amount of research has been done on the subject. It is widely understood that resting heart rate tends to elevate as we get older, although genetics and lifestyle also play a major role too.
There are certain medications that can lower your resting heart rate, but this sort of artificial and pharmaceutical manipulation of your system is not recommended, especially because there are many lifestyle changes and fitness strategies that can help lower it rather easily.
How to Lower Resting Heart Rate?
Here is what you can do to keep your resting heart in top shape:
Add Fish Oil to your Diet
Fish oil, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and well known to be beneficial for heart health, can also help you regulate your resting heart rate and keep it low. In fact, fish oil can help the vagus nerve in your heart function more efficiently, keeping resting heart rate lower for longer. Numerous studies have now shown a direct decrease in resting heart rate following a relatively short stint of regular fish oil capsule consumption. You can also add some extra salmon and tuna to your weekly diet.
Do Intense Cardio Workouts
Perhaps the most important aspect of your lifestyle that can lower the resting heart rate is regular and intense cardiovascular workout. By pumping up your heart rate during these exercises, you actually strengthen your parasympathetic nervous system, making it more reactive to your activity and behavior. Therefore, once your exercising is finished, your parasympathetic nervous system is better at recognizing a “resting” state and helps to keep your resting heart rate lower, as though in preparation for your next exertion. 3-4 workouts per week of 30-40 minutes should be enough to significantly drop your resting heart rate to healthy levels.
Go to the Bathroom Regularly
This might seem a bit unusual, but in fact, regular urination and avoiding “holding it in” can lower your resting heart rate. When your bladder is full, it can increase your normal heart rate by as much as 10 bpm. It turns out that when you need to urinate, your sympathetic system activates, constricting blood vessels and driving up blood pressure.
There are many reasons to quit smoking, but its effects on resting heart rate are particularly important to note. Nicotine is an astringent substance; the “nicotine rush” is a burst of blood pressure as our vessels constrict, driving up the heart rate. If you want to lower your resting heart rate, stop constricting your blood vessels and ditch the cigarettes once and for all.
This can be easier said than done, but anything you can do to reduce stressful situations in your life will lower inflammation throughout the body, eliminate the chronic presence of stress hormones in your bloodstream, and lower the resting heart rate. Meditation, yoga, tai-chi, and a better-organized life can all help to eliminate daily stress and keep your heart rate normal.
Get a Massage
Relaxation techniques of any kind are encouraged to reduce resting heart rate like massage or aromatherapy can lower levels of stress hormones in the body. Things like adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine function in your fight-or-flight response, which boosts your heart rate to give you the energy to act. By lowering these chemicals in your system, you can drop your resting heart rate by as much as 8 bpm.
If your sleep is constantly disturbed, either by restlessness or outside stimuli, your heart rate jumps from its sleep state to one of startled consciousness. It can often be hard to get that resting heart rate back down, making it more difficult to get to sleep, causing fatigue and non-restful sleep. It is important that your body gets continuous rest, so do your best to eliminate potential disturbances while you’re getting your shut-eye.
Cut Down on Caffeine
Caffeine naturally raises your heart rate to provide a burst of energy and can wreak havoc on your natural cycles of rest and activity. So it would be a good idea to ease up on your coffee intake in order to lower the resting heart rate.
Vary your Exercise Routines
An exercise of any kind is important for improving (lowering) your resting heart rate, but there are ways to make exercise even more effective. Namely, if you are able to switch up your exercises, using different muscle groups, and switching from resistance training and weights to cardio, the effects are even stronger. Your parasympathetic nervous system will have to be even more adaptive if you’re exerting yourself in different ways, making it even better at bringing your heart rate back to a low, healthy level.
Excess weight and obesity can cause a huge amount of stress on your body. The inflammatory effects of adipose tissue alone can cause your resting heart rate to be higher, and excess weight also makes normal activities more difficult, causing a natural strain on the heart, even when you’re not engaged in any traditional “physical activity”. Moderating your diet and engaging in a fitness plan can help you lose weight and keep your resting heart rate low and healthy.
Increase Antioxidant Intake
Antioxidants protect your body from the damaging effects of free radicals, which can cause chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease. Studies have shown as much as a 20% reduction in heart disease when antioxidants are a major part of a person’s diet. Increase your intake of berries, nuts, beans, artichokes, cocoa, citrus fruits, and green leafy vegetables, all of which are high in antioxidants. Also, intake of lean beef may also help in lowering blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Regularly See Your Doctor
Regular check-ups with a doctor can enable you to discover your “danger” areas and get targeted advice on how to eliminate or lower your risk factors that can contribute to heart disease based on your lifestyle, genetics, and other contributing factors.
Be Consistently Active
While exercise is very important for heart health, so is remaining consistently active. Sedentary lifestyles contribute to higher blood pressure, poor eating habits, lower metabolic rates, and a generally lower level of heart health. Take up a hobby like gardening, go on a bike ride, or volunteer at a community center to remain active without going to the gym.
Laugh Hard and Often
Laughter is the best medicine for a number of reasons, but when it comes to heart health. It boosts your blood flow and prevents hardening of the arteries, which is the main factor that contributes to cardiovascular disease.
Follow the Right Career Path
Although this seems like an unrelated topic, choosing the right career and maintaining consistent happiness can do wonders for your heart health. The right work-life balance can make you more active and energetic, and increase the release of beneficial hormones in your body that optimize your metabolism and keep your heart healthy.
Yoga is a wonderful way to relax and reduce stress, but it also increases the flexibility of your body, including the blood vessels and arteries, which can help to prevent plaque build-up and atherosclerosis, which contribute to strokes and heart attacks.
Maintaining an active social life will not only get you out and about, but social interactions have been shown to lower blood pressure and increase the release of beneficial endorphins that keep your vital organs and immune system working properly.
Bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) can clog your arteries, cause plaque build-up, increase blood pressure, and generally ruin the health of your heart. By elimination “bad” cholesterol from your diet, and replacing it with beneficial cholesterol (HDL cholesterol), you can re-balance the fatty acids in your body to prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Add Fiber to Your Diet
Fiber is one of the most important dietary elements for protecting your heart. Fiber scrapes out and eliminates excess “bad” cholesterol, moderates your digestive system, improves the absorption of nutrients, and can even lower your chances of diabetes, which is a major co-contributor to heart disease.
Soak Up Some Sunshine
Getting some rays is not only relaxing, it also gives your body a much-needed dose of vitamin D, which is not only good for your bone strength but has also been shown as a serious preventative vitamin for heart-related diseases, according to recent studies.
Reduce Alcohol Consumption
This is a tricky one, as most people suggest that a glass of wine or two a day is beneficial due to the antioxidant content. However, excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages can increase your blood pressure, resulting in obesity, and shift your cholesterol balance in a negative direction.
Work on Patience
Practice patience which is a virtue that also happens to reduce stress and improve your heart health. When we get upset, anxious, or frustrated by having to wait in traffic jams or long lines we are doing our body significant harm, while we could change our mindset and actually benefit our bodies instead. Simply shift your perspective!
Obesity is a major contributing factor to heart disease, as it increases your bad cholesterol, increases your blood pressure, elevates your chances of developing atherosclerosis, diabetes, and sleep apnea. Losing weight can eliminate these risk factors that can damage your heart.
Get a Pet
Studies have shown that connecting with a pet can increase your overall quality of life, lower stress, cause you to be more active, and generally reduce your chances of developing heart conditions. Get a pet and see what a boost to your mind and health they can be!
Lower Technology Dependency
In our modernized world, we are constantly dependent on smartphones, tablets, computers, television, and other technological advancements. many of these force us to not only be sedentary, which contributes to heart disease, but they also increase your level of stress hormones in the body and raise blood pressure. Take a break from technology once in a while and go out to enjoy the real world.
Remain Sexually Active
This may be a touch subject for some people, but in fact, remaining sexually active with your partner releases very beneficial endorphins and hormones in your body, counts as exercise and has been shown in numerous studies to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and contribute to a healthier heart.