Studies have shown that your resting heart rate can be affected by many variables throughout the day. Things like stress, emotions, and lack of sleep can all have an effect on your heart rate. And having a high resting heart rate can be a precursor to early mortality. That's why it's more important than ever to keep track of your heart rate and take steps to lower it if at all possible. Luckily, new advances in technology have made it easier than ever to keep track of and even lower your heart rate.
Take a look at the guide below to get a better understanding of heart rate and and a few things you can do to become more physically fit.
Heart Rate Explained
Your heart rate is a measure of how many times the heart muscle expands and contracts in a minute, which is otherwise known as beats per minute or BPM for short.
Throughout the day and during periods of physical activity your heart rate may go up or down, but a person's resting heart rate typically remains stays the same. Your resting heart rate is generally going to be most influenced by your overall fitness level.
The American Heart Association defines an average heart rate is between 50 to 70 bpm. And while many people may fluctuate between these two numbers, recent studies have shown that a constant resting heart rate above 70 puts you at a much higher risk of heart disease.
Fast Heart Rate Causes
Diseases like hypertension and coronary artery disease can limit the amount of blood circulating through the body and force the heart to work harder.
Additionally, your thyroid can also have an impact on your resting heart rate. The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland in the base of your neck that controls many different hormones in your body. Hyperthyroidism is an disease where the thyroid becomes overactive. Having an excess of thyroid hormones in the blood will cause an increase in resting heart rate. Your thyroid can also go the opposite way - that of hypothyroidism. This will result in a slow heart beat.
Often times during moments of high stress your heart rate will become elevated. Emotional stress has been shown to contribute to a number of other diseases such as diabetes and stroke. This can have a long term effect on your resting heart rate.
Caffeine & Cigarettes
Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and drinking/smoking too much during the day may cause you to have an elevated resting heart rate.
How To Slow Down Your Resting Heart Rate
If you notice that your heart rate is elevated during certain times of the day, there are a couple of techniques you can use to bring it down to acceptable levels.
The circular muscles the base of your lungs was known as a diaphragm and handles much of the heavy lifting when it comes to your breathing patterns. It works in conjunction with your abdominal muscles and helps to move air in and out of your lungs. Strengthening this muscle will ensure that your breathing efficiently and not placing undue stress on your lungs.
Start by placing one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Inhale and focus on using slow and controlled breathing to push out your abdomen. Ensure that your chest remains as still as possible. As you exhale, flex your abs inward to push the air out through your lips. Again, ensure that your chest remains as still as possible while you exhale.
Regular amounts of high intensity exercise will strengthen the heart and improve its efficiency. When you exercise regularly, your heart pumps more blood before it contracts, which results in fewer beats per minute.
However, simply going out and just randomly exercising the inefficient way to increase your cardiovascular fitness level. When you exercise you want to ensure that your heart rate is between 70 and 80% of your maximum. This will ensure that the exercise you do actually strengthens your heart muscle.
How do you know your maximum? Well this will vary greatly depending on your age and overall fitness level but I've included a table below to give you a better idea of what to look for.
Research has shown that certain amounts of fish oil can actually help lower your resting heart rate. There are many different types of fish oils on the market and you will want to pay special attention to the type that you consume as many of them contain toxins and heavy metals due to agricultural runoff. In general try to shoot for a fermented variety as these types of fish oils are very potent and are much easier for the body to absorb. Fish oil is loaded with vitamins A, D, C, and K which will help strengthen the nervous system and heart(among other things).
Wearables That Can Help With Lowering Heart Rate
There are quite a few different activity trackers that can help you manager your rate and all of them are great for keeping track of your fitness goals as well. Take a look at the guide below to give you a better idea of what to look for.
Fitbit Charge HR
The Fitbit Charge HR is a fitness tracker has an embedded optical heart rate sensor. Pressing a button on the side will allow you to check your heart rate in real time this will be very handy when you’re exercising as you will be held to determine how close you are to your optimal heart rate. The Charge HR will also keep track of your resting pulse throughout the day.
Garmen Vivofit HR 2
The Vivofit 2 is also capable of tracking your heart rate and also pairs with a separate chest strap unit through Bluetooth. Although they are little on the bulky side, chest strap heart rate monitors tend to be a little more accurate than wrist worn devices. The wrist unit is also removable and can be worn as a necklace which will make it easier to keep track of your metrics.
If you’re looking for an optical heart rate based fitness tracker you can’t go wrong with the Basis Peak. The Peaks large heads-up display is probably its biggest benefit, as I tend to prefer trackers with a larger display so I can see what I’m doing better. The Peak will take your heart rate during certain activities to get a better idea of your overall average during the day. The app is fairly detailed will give you many graphs and charts to help you become more physically fit.
Garmen 920 XT
The 920 XT is a fully loaded smartwatch that also has GPS and Glonas support. It does not have a built-in heart rate monitor, but you can sync it with a chest strap style device to enable such a feature. The 920 XT is good if you’re going to use your fitness tracker for more than just gym workouts, as it comes with a a great many pre-loaded activities, all the way for hiking to kayaking or wake boarding.
Beddit Smart 2.0
While it is in a dedicated activity tracker, the bed it is crucial for measuring one thing: your sleep. The bed it will measure your heart rate as you sleep and give you a sleep score in the morning. You can also see a detailed graph that will show you any heart rate "spikes" you had during the night. Research has shown that not getting enough sleep during the night can cause you have an elevated heart rate the preceding day.
If you are someone who is worried about their health it is imperative that you start monitoring your heart rate as soon as possible. With the tips in this article, and regular exercise, you should be well on your way towards lowering your heart rate.