February 21, 2017
Resting Heart Rate 101 – What You Need to Know
February is National Heart Month, so it’s time to make sure your heart is healthy. In addition to your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and BMI (body mass index), it’s critical to know your resting heart rate. Your resting heart rate can indicate whether your heart is in good cardiovascular health. According to the CDC, cardiovascular disease is the #1 cause of death in the United States for both men and women of all ethnicities. If your resting heart rate is too high, remember that your heart is a muscle. Like any other muscle, with the proper training, your heart can become stronger and more efficient.
What is your resting heart rate?Your resting heart rate is the speed at which your heart beats when you’re at rest. This will vary based on a handful of factors such as your age and physical fitness levels. Your resting heart rate provides insight into your overall cardiovascular health.
What is the healthy range for resting heart rates?Resting heart rates should range between 60-80 beats per minute (bpm), with the optimal number being under 70 bpm.
When’s the best time to obtain your resting heart rate?The best time to obtain your resting heart rate is in the morning, right when you wake up. If you’re taking your heart rate manually, the American Heart Association recommends using the tips of your first two fingers and pressing lightly over the blood vessels on your wrist. Count your pulse for 10 seconds and multiply by 6 to find your beats per minute and this number is your resting heart rate. Note: Most activity trackers have heart rate sensors built-in.
What to do if your resting heart rate is on the higher end of the range?If your heart rate is on the higher end, don’t sweat. Well, you might want to think about hitting the gym or finding an exercise buddy! The best way to lower your resting heart rate is through routine vigorous exercise. It’s important to talk to your doctor and determine the best ways for you to strengthen your heart.
What are the best ways to lower your resting heart rate?
- Increase your exercise. You’ll receive the best benefits through a combination of interval, aerobic and resistance exercises. Choose an exercise that increases your heart rate between 50% and 75% of your maximum heart rate for 30 minutes most days of the week. Moderate exercise, such as walking, has not been shown to have a big impact on changing your resting heart rate.
- Reduce your stress levels. Managing your stress can help lower your heart rate over time. Practicing relaxation exercises, breathing exercises, or meditation can help reduce your resting heart rate.
- Cut out tobacco. Smoking and tobacco use of any kind can increase your heart rate. Eliminating tobacco not only reduces your resting heart rate, it greatly improves your overall heart health.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can cause your heart to work harder and speed up to adequately supply blood to your body.