How to Lower Your Heart Rate

Your heart rate is a good indication of just how hard your heart works to pump blood through your body. The heart rate is calculated at "beats per minute". Anything over 100 beats per minute during rest can indicate a whopping 78% greater risk of heart problems in the future.

How to Lower Heart Rate

Learning how to lower heart rate can help you live a longer, healthier life. Here are some tips on how to lower your heart rate before you wind up with heart damage.

How to Lower Resting Heart Rate

Remember that your resting heart rate should be below 100 beats per minute. Anything over 90 beats per minute is considered in a "danger zone". Here’s how to make sure it gets below 90 and stays there. Lifestyle changes are the first line of defense against a heart rate that is too high.

1. Healthy Body Weight

When you are overweight, your heart has to work harder to pump blood throughout the body. Exercise can help you lose weight, as can a healthy diet. As you lose the weight, you should see your resting heart rate go down.

2. Quit Smoking

When trying to figure out how to lower heart rate, avoid cigarettes, cigars, or e-cigs. Tobacco can drive your heart rate up from the first puff and over time it only gets worse.

3. Lower Your Caffeine Intake

Caffeine is a "pick me up" that makes you feel alert and awake. It also sends your heart rate up. If you have more than two cups of coffee per day, you might be driving your resting heart rate up. Switch to decaf after that first cup of Joe.

4. Avoid Alcohol

The more alcohol you drink, the harder your heart works. Over time, alcohol can give you a resting heart rate that is much higher than it should be. To avoid this, drink alcohol only in moderation, if at all.

5. Reduce Stress

Known as the "silent killer", stress wrecks havoc on your body. Reducing stress might be tough, but it must be done in order to stay healthy and strong. Learn how to lower heart rate through meditation, yoga and other measures that help your body and mind relax.

6. Regular Exercise

Exercise does send your heart rate up, but the more you exercise, the more you will see a lower resting heart rate. That’s because exercise strengthens your heart and the rest of your body, making it work much more efficiently. Interval training is the best way to help your heart. Your exercise regimen should consist of aerobics, stretching and strength training.

  • Aerobics might include running, jogging or biking. Swimming or hiking might be good for those who have joint problems.
  • Stretching is a must to keep you flexible and able to participate in more rigorous exercise.
  • Strength training can include weights, resistance bands or yoga. This helps your body work more efficiently over time.

This video can help you learn more about lowering heart rate through exercise: 

7. Fish Oil

Several studies have shown that fish oil helps your heart by lowering your average beats per minute. One study found that one gram of fish oil in a capsule every day brought the resting heart rate down by six points within two weeks! This might be thanks to the fish oil increasing the sensitivity of the vagus nerve which controls your heart rate.

8. Valsalva Maneuver

Speaking of the vagus nerve, the valsalva maneuver can help. Take a deep breath and then push with your abdominal muscles as if you were having a bowel movement. Hold that pressure for five seconds before letting go.

How to Reduce Heart Rate During Exercise

What if you have a medical condition and you can’t engage in strenuous exercise? Learning how to lower heart rate can be done in other ways. Here’s what you need to know to keep your heart rate low enough during mild exercise.

1. Monitor Your Heart Rate

By subtracting your age from 220, you can get the maximum rate you should reach; anything more than that can be bad for your health. Wear a heart rate monitor to help you check where you are at each point during your exercise.

2. Reduce the Intensity

Ease up and slow down with the exercise when your heart rate starts to rise too much. That might mean lifting less weight, walking more slowly, easing up on the aerobic movements, or simply dropping out of the exercise to cool down.

3. Breathing Exercises

Remember to breathe deeply when exercising to make sure your heart gets enough oxygen. If you are having trouble with breathing while exercising, slow down to a point where you can speak clearly while you exercise – that’s the intensity you might want to keep. If you are truly having trouble breathing, stop exercising and monitor your heart rate closely. Get prepared to call an ambulance if it doesn’t come down.

What Is a Normal Heart Rate?

A normal resting heart rate usually sits between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Anything that is consistently over 90 beats per minute warrants attention from a doctor. If you are very athletic, your heart rate might reach as low as 40 beats per minute. As long as your heart rate is within the normal range, you probably have good heart health. Anything over that, however, is enough to make you take notice.

When to Consult a Doctor

Remember that there is a wide range of what is a normal heart rate. If you want to learn how to lower heart rate, speak to your doctor first about the existing resting heart rate you have and then ask for specific advice on how to bring it down. Remember that you should never embark on an exercise program or other options to bring down your heart rate without the okay from your physician. 

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