We all hear about our heart rate from time to time. Especially if we're serious fitness enthusiasts. It should be something that every keeps their finger on and monitors regularly.
First, lets find out a little more about exactly what a resting heart rate is and why its important. What is a resting heart rate? Resting heart rate (RHR) is a measure of your average heart beats per minute (bpm) while your body is in a state of complete rest. It is a very useful metric for monitoring your fitness level and overall health. Generally speaking, a lower resting heart rate is a good sign. What should my heart rate be exactly? What a Good RHR and a bad RHR? A normal resting heart rate is usually between 60 and 100 beats per minute. However, for athletes and people who are active, this number may dip closer to 40 bpm. Below is a chart by RHR by age. (Source: Article from belmarrahealth.com)
What does a low RHR mean? A low resting heart rate is an indication of a strong heart muscle that can pump out a greater amount of blood with every beat so it does not have to beat as frequently. Your physical fitness is directly correlated to the strength of your heart. When your heart is in better condition and doesn’t need to work as hard to push blood throughout the body and deliver oxygen to your muscles, your fitness improves. What does a High RHR mean? Just as a low RHR is a sign of a stronger heart, a high resting heart rate may signify a weaker heart muscle. Research indicates that in the long-term, an elevated RHR likely adds to the risk of mortality.
In the short-term, the following factors can increase resting heart rate (https://heart.bmj.com/content/99/12/882.full?sid=90e3623c-1250-4b94-928c-0a8f95c5b36b):
Strenuous exercise or overtraining
Stress and anxiety
Sleep deprivation and fatigue
Caffeine or alcohol consumption
Smoking cigarettes or use of certain drugs
Illness or underlying health conditions
Medication side effects
However, having an above-average resting heart rate compared to others is not necessarily a cause for concern. A recent study showed that normal RHR from one individual to the next may vary by as much as 70 bpm. (https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0227709) HOW TO IMPROVE RESTING HEART RATE?
By far, the No. 1 thing to do for lowering resting heart rate is exercise. In particular, aerobic exercise like running or cycling (activities you can sustain for long periods of time at 70-80% of your max heart rate) will assist you in building cardiovascular strength.
Additionally, each of the behaviors below can help you decrease your RHR:
Getting all the sleep you need and improving the quality and consistency of your sleep
Following a balanced diet with proper nutrition
Limiting stimulants like caffeine and nicotine
Taking warm, calming showers or baths
Going for walks outside, ideally in nature
Relaxation exercises like guided breathing, meditation, stretching or yoga
In general, anything you can do to reduce stress and manage anxiety will benefit your resting heart rate. Source: Found this article written by Mark Van Deusen at Whoop Inc. (original article link below) https://www.whoop.com/thelocker/normal-resting-heart-rate-improve-fitness/