Lower Your Resting Heart Rate to increase your longevity
What is your resting heat rate?
When you sit quietly or when you sleep, your heart slips into a slower steady pace known as your resting heart rate. Recent studies show that men in their 50’s with a resting heart rate of 75bpm or above have double the risk of dying than those with lower resting heart rates. Many factors influence resting heart rate such as genetics, medication and even aging which
tends to speed it up. Regular exercise that elevates the heart rate lowers resting heart rate and generally, a lower resting heart rate indicates efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness.
For most of us, aiming for a resting heart rate under 65 is a good fitness goal to have, as a broad guideline. With all of the wearable fitness gadgets and watches available nowadays, tracking rest heart rate is an easy thing to do. In fact, many apps will track this biometric for you, but even without one of these gadgets measuring it is simple. Try measuring at consistent time of day, such as first thing in the morning after your body has been resting all night. Set a timer for one minute and count the pulses at your carotid artery for one minute to get a more accurate figure.
Now that you know your resting heart rate, the question is how do you lower it? With this the season of new year’s resolutions, one of my biggest fit tips that I give to my clients is to put your heart through regular workouts, just like you do the rest of the body. What I mean by that is train not only for strength but also for cardiovascular fitness. This means pushing your heart rate towards its maximum for a short period of time followed by short rests. This is a style of cardiovascular training called HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training. Studies have shown that HIIT style training has a greater impact on cardiovascular fitness than standard aerobic training where the heart rate is kept at a constant, low to medium intensity state. The process of getting the heart rate to vacillate up and down ultimately results in lowering resting heart rate and improving oxygen intake to the muscles which makes you a much more efficient machine. This means things like hiking up hills or running up a flight of stairs wouldn’t cause you to get winded.
A simple way to incorporate HIIT into your fitness routine is to vary the intensities of whatever cardio program you are doing. If it’s walking, incorporate sets of stairs or short bursts of jogging. If it’s swimming, swim a full or half lap with maximum intensity followed by a recovery lap. Using the elliptical? Try the interval program. Need more ideas? Consider hiring a personal trainer to demystify fitness and help you make the most of your time in the gym and get real results, online or outdoors!