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  • Writer's pictureDmitri Konash

How to Lower Heart Rate : Practical tips

How to Calm a Racing Heart with a Heart Rate Monitor

how to lower heart rate, how to lower resting heart rate, BreathNow app helps to lower heart rate

Our hearts are remarkable engines, tirelessly pumping blood throughout our bodies to deliver oxygen and nutrients to our cells. However, sometimes, these tireless powerhouses can get a little overexcited, leading to a rapid heart rate. While a temporary increase in heart rate is normal during physical activity or emotional stress, an abnormally high resting heart rate, also known as tachycardia, could be a sign of underlying health issues.

When I was diagnosed with anxiety, the doctor advised me to measure and log my resting heart rate regularly. I fixed my anxiety and brought my resting pulse to an average of 60 beats per minute with 3 tools: 1. Relaxation techniques. 2. Aerobic exercises. 3. Short high intensity interval workouts. 

What is Considered a High Heart Rate?

A normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute (BPM). It's important to note that this range can vary depending on age, fitness level, and overall health. For instance, younger adults and athletes tend to have lower resting heart rates, while older adults and those with certain medical conditions may have higher resting heart rates [2].

IMPORTANT: If your resting heart rate consistently exceeds 100 BPM, it's advisable to consult with your doctor to rule out any underlying health problems. 

Scientific research shows that resting heart rate may be a predictor of all-cause mortality. Here is the conclusion from one of the research papers:  “While the American Heart Association considers a range of 60 to 100 beats per minute (bpm) as normal, resting heart rates on the upper end of the 60 to 100 bpm range are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. The same is true for the lower end of the spectrum, where resting heart rates under 60 bpm are also associated with higher mortality risk.” [1]. 

What May Be the Reasons for a High Heart Rate?

Several factors can contribute to a high heart rate, including:

  • Physical activity: Exercise naturally elevates heart rate to meet the increased demand for oxygen during physical exertion.

  • Emotional stress: Anxiety, fear, and other emotional stressors can trigger the release of stress hormones, causing the heart to beat faster.

  • Medications: Certain medications, such as stimulants and thyroid medications, can increase heart rate as a side effect.

  • Underlying medical conditions: Conditions like hyperthyroidism, anemia, and heart valve disorders can also lead to an elevated heart rate.

How to Lower Heart Rate Immediately with Breathing Exercises and Meditation

When your heart starts to race, simple breathing exercises and meditation can help calm your nervous system and lower your heart rate. Here are two effective techniques:

  • Slow breathing: This technique involves expanding your abdomen as you inhale and contracting it as you exhale. This deep, mindful breathing can help regulate your heart rate and reduce stress.

  • Meditation: Meditation focuses on bringing your attention to the present moment, quieting your mind, and reducing stress. There are various meditation techniques available, such as mindfulness meditation or guided meditations.

How to Lower Resting Heart Rate with Lifestyle Changes?

In addition to immediate measures like breathing exercises and meditation, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to lower your resting heart rate over time:

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Carrying excess weight puts additional strain on the heart and can contribute to an elevated resting heart rate.

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Caffeine and alcohol can both trigger an increase in heart rate. If you're sensitive to these substances, it's best to limit your intake or avoid them altogether.

  • Get regular exercise: Regular physical activity is one of the most effective ways to lower resting heart rate. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. [3]

  • Get enough sleep: When you don't get enough sleep, your body produces more stress hormones, which can lead to an elevated heart rate. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

  • Manage stress: Stress can also contribute to an elevated heart rate. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as yoga, meditation, or spending time in nature.

How to Lower Resting Heart Rate with Medical Interventions

In some cases, medication may be prescribed to help lower resting heart rate. However, it's important to consult with your doctor to determine if medication is the right option for you.

How Accurate are Heart Rate Monitor Apps? 

BreathNow app is an accurate heart rate monitor and stress monitor

An easier way to measure and log heart rate is to use smartwatches, i.e Apple Watch. If you do not have a smartwatch you can choose between many free heart rate monitor apps available both for iPhone and Android phones. These apps take heart rate readings when the user applies a finger simultaneously both to the phone camera and flashlight. 

Though these apps are generally less accurate when taking pulse readings as compared to smartwatches, chest monitor straps or medical devices, their accuracy is comparable to measuring heart rate with your fingers. This is sufficient for most users. One of the heart rate monitor apps which you may consider is BreathNow. This app not only measures your heart rate and stress with a phone camera, it also provides a set of calming activities (i.e. slow breathing, meditations) to lower heart rate. 

Why do you need to measure and track your heart rate several times per day? 

  • Keeping track of your heart rate  can help you identify patterns and see how your lifestyle changes affect your heart rate.

  • If your resting heart rate deviates from your normal values in the absence of exercise or acute stress it may be an early indication that you got a virus and your body is producing an immune response.

  • Tracking heart rate during an exercise helps to exercise with the right intensity which produces just the right amount of “good” exercise stress. 



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