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The Playbook

You’re an active guy. You’ve likely looked down at your fitness tracker during an intense workout and seen an impressive triple digit heart rate.

You know that a big number during exercise is a marker of how intensely you’re working—a high heart rate means your cardiovascular system is working hard to supply your body with the blood it needs to keep you going. The significance of your resting heart rate is a bit more vague. But it’s the number of beats your heart pumps when you’re not exerting yourself and it actually provides insight into your overall fitness level. You see, a healthy resting heart rate means there’s less demand on your heart muscle, keeping it in shape for when you need it most. Of course, the most significant benefit of a low resting heart rate is a substantially decreased risk of heart disease or heart attacks. So how can you lower your resting heart rate? We consulted the experts. 

A healthy, normal rate

The usual range for resting heart rate is anywhere between 60 and 90 beats per minute,” says Howard LeWine, M.D., a practicing internist and chief medical editor at Harvard Health. “Above 90 is considered high, but many factors influence your resting heart rate. Genes play a role. Aging tends to speed it up. Regular exercise tends to slow it down.” He notes that in his prime, champion cyclist and Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain had a resting heart rate of just 28 beats per minute.

In his prime, champion cyclist and Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain had a resting heart rate of just 28 beats per minute.

Start measuring your heart rate

According to Dr. LeWine, the best time to measure it is before you get out of bed in the morning. You don’t need a doctor’s visit or even a fitness tracker, he says. “You can measure your heart rate at your wrist or neck by placing one or two fingers over a pulse point, counting the number of beats in 15 seconds, and multiplying by four.”

FYI: According to the American Heart Association, the average human heart beats more than 2.5 billion times over a 75-year lifetime.

Simple steps to lower your number


Boost your cardio

When you hit the trail or treadmill, hop on a bike or go for a swim, your heart beats faster during the activity and for a short time after you finish. But exercising every day is the most consistent way to gradually slow your resting heart rate.


Reduce your stress

Meditation and other stress-busting techniques such as concentrated breathing have been shown to lower a resting heart rate over time.


Ease up on vices

Smokers consistently have higher resting heart rates. And the nicotine and other chemicals in vape juice raises your blood pressure and spikes your adrenaline, increasing your heart rate. Coffee’s caffeine can cause dehydration, which in turn makes the heart work harder to stabilize blood flow. Alcohol has been shown to increase blood pressure.


Lose weight if necessary

The larger the body, the harder the heart must work to supply it with blood. Losing weight can help slow an elevated resting heart rate.

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