Learning how to lower your resting heart rate (RHR) is a thorough, comprehensive approach to improving your overall health and well being. A lower RHR indicates that your heart is not being overworked in its effort to deliver oxygenated blood and nutrients to every part of your body.
Conversely, a high RHR means that your cardiovascular system is under constant duress which can weaken your heart over time. This places you at risk for developing heart disease which is one of the leading causes of death in North America.
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to lower your RHR which in turn will improve your quality of life. Adopting a lifestyle focused on daily exercise and stress reduction while avoiding tobacco and maintaining a healthy weight can set you on the path to heart-healthy living.
1. Elevation Leads to Reduction
As counter-intuitive as it might seem, exercise that increases your immediate heart rate actually reduces your RHR over time. A normal RHR for adults is 60 to 100 beats per minute (BPM).
The lower your heart rate, the better cardiovascular shape you are in. Part of learning how to lower your resting heart rate is finding a form of exercise that is right for you, and monitoring your progress on a daily basis through wearable tech.
a. Run for Your Life
Moderate intensity continuous training (MICT) exercises such as hiking, jogging, cycling and swimming are excellent ways to increase the efficiency of your heart and lungs. These activities increase blood flow and the volume of blood that is delivered into the left ventricle of the heart with each beat. This causes it to expand over time to process more blood per beat with less effort, thus, reducing the beats per minute.
b. Time to “HIIT” the Gym
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is another form of exercise that reduces your RHR over time. This is done in short, intense bursts of “sprinting” type activity interspersed with short rest periods. HIIT can be done with running, cycling, kettlebells, swimming, bodyweight circuits, Crossfit routines and many other exercises.
The dynamic at work here is the burst-and-recover activity makes your heart continually go from working hard to resting to working hard again. This builds the heart muscle itself as well as the blood cycling capacity, which enables your heart to pump blood easier when you are at rest.
c. Indirect Strengthening
Resistance training and weightlifting can also be effective in lowering your RHR (although not to the degree of cardiovascular exercise) as they force muscles to contract — such as the quadriceps — when performing a barbell front squat. This causes the arteries and vessels in your thighs to close and re-open which increases blood pressure throughout the body.
This dynamic action forces the left ventricle that receives oxygen-depleted blood from the muscles to strengthen over time, expanding its capacity to process blood more efficiently which lowers your RHR.