Keeping a good 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 Healthy Resting Heart Rate?
When we exercise or exert ourselves, our heart rate rises. The same thing happens when we are in stressful situations or when we get excited or see that special someone. While elevated heart rates are normal in some circumstances, it is important that our resting heart rate remains at a manageable rate. High resting heart rate is a good indicator and predictor of heart disease and a variety of other health issues, so keeping your resting heart rate low is very important.
For those who don’t know, 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.
Normal Resting Heart Rate
A normal resting heart rate for adults should be anywhere between 60 beats to 100 beats per minute. While some specialists disagree on this and say that the heart rate should be lower than 60 beats per minute, others suggest that a heart rate of 80 beats per minute is also considered normal. So, below we have discussed the normal resting heart rate for both men and women, respective of their ages.
Healthy Heart Rate for Men
Between the age group of 18 to 35 – 49-55 beats/minute
Between the age group of 36 and above – 50-57 beats/minute
Between the age group of 18 to 45 – 62-66 beats/minute
Between the age group of 46 and above – 64-67 beats/minute
Healthy Heart Rate for Women
Between the age group of 18 to 35 – 54-60 beats/minute
Between the age group of 36 and above – 60-65 beats/minute
Between the age group of 18 to 45 – 65-69 beats/minute
Between the age group of 46 and above – 66-69 beats/minute
While a slight variation in the above-mentioned numbers is considered normal, too much up and down can be dangerous for health.
Ways to Maintain a Healthy Resting Heart Rate
There are many ways to maintain a healthy heart rate by making a few amendments in your daily regimen like adding fish oil to your diet, cutting down on caffeine and alcohol intake, exercising regularly, and more. Let’s take a look at some of them below.
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 a 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 and Alcohol
Caffeine naturally raises your heart rate to provide a burst of energy and can wreak havoc on your natural cycles of rest and activity. Similarly, alcohol has been directly connected not only to other health issues and inflammation in the body but also to a higher than average resting heart rate. Ease up on the coffee and cut yourself off after a glass of wine or two.
Vary your Exercise Routines
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.