July 17, 2018
Clinical Contributors to this Story
Sarah L. Timmapuri, M.D. contributes to topics such as Cardiac / Heart Health, Exercise / Fitness.
If your heart is racing as you’re sitting reading this article, it’s possible your body is trying to tell you something. A high resting heart rate, or a heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute, means your heart is working extra hard to pump blood through your body. And, that extra effort could result in a wide range of negative effects on your overall health, including feelings of dizziness and fatigue – and most seriously – blood clots, heart failure and, in rare cases, sudden death.
Normal resting heart rate is anywhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute, and it’s simple to check how fast yours is beating. While idle, hold your pointer and middle finger between your bone and tendon on the thumb side on your wrist until you feel your pulse, and count the number of beats for a minute – that is your resting heart rate.
Certain aspects of someone’s resting heart rate are directly connected to uncontrollable factors, such as age and genetics, however there are certain actions that be taken to help decrease heart rate and improve overall wellbeing for those whose resting heart rate is above normal.
Here are six proven ways to lower your resting heart rate:
1. Stay Out of the Heat: It’s summertime and the heat is upon us. The warmer the temperature, the faster your heart beats. This is because your heart is working quickly to pump blood to the surface of your skin, produce sweat and cool off the body. To ensure your heart isn’t beating on overdrive, stay in cool places when possible. Keep an umbrella handy for trips to the beach, choose an indoor table at the restaurant you’re dining at and remember to stay well hydrated.
2. Exercise Frequently: Exercise is great for your health for many reasons – and securing a normal resting heart rate is one of them. While it might seem counterintuitive since your heart rate increases while you’re exercising, what you’re actually doing every time you’re working out is training your heart to be stronger and more efficient at pumping blood. Then, when you’re in rest mode, your heart is more easily able to maintain a normal heart rate.
3. Add More Fish to Your Diet: Similarly to exercising, maintaining a healthy diet is beneficial to each of us for many reasons. For one, incorporating more fish has been associated with lower resting heart rates, according to a study from the American Heart Association. Don’t enjoy eating fish? Talk a doctor about taking fish oil supplements, which may have positive effects on heart rate as well.
4. Lessen the Stress: The higher our stress level, the higher our heart rates. For many people, stress can feel inevitable. Perhaps you’re trying to balance work and home life, but can never seem to find enough time to get it all accomplished. A quick and simple way to begin to de-stress is to designate a block of time each day to disconnect from your cell phone and other electronic devices. This frees up time to be productive and gives you an opportunity to declutter your mind and reprioritize. Another simple de-stressing tip is to practice mediation to relax the mind.
5. Be Mindful of Your Breathing: On the topic of medication, another quick and easy way to lower your heart rate is to practice mindful breathing exercises. Inhale slowly for five seconds and then exhale slowly for 15 seconds. Try dedicating five minutes to this each day.
6. Nix the Cigarettes: It might come as no surprise that smoking cigarettes has countless negative effects on a person’s health. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, this includes an increased risk for coronary heart disease, stroke and lung and other cancers. Additionally, tobacco products have been shown to increase resting heart rates. When your body consumes nicotine, your veins and arteries constrict, and your heart has to then put in that extra work to pump blood. If you’re a smoker, the good news is quitting can decrease your resting heart rate within just 24 hours – so the sooner you can nix the cigarettes – the sooner you’ll begin to see results.
Dr. Sarah Timmapuri practices at Bergen Invasive Cardiovascular Consultants in Hackensack, NJ and is affiliated with Hackensack Meridian Health. Dr. Timmapuri’s office can be contacted by calling 201-343-2050.
The material provided through Health Hub is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.