Resting Heart RateResearch out of Norway has shown that a rise in a person’s resting heart rate may be a significant indicator of the development of heart problems. The study looked at about 30,000 people over a ten year period.  The participants in the study whose resting heart rates went up by more than 15 BPM (beats per minute) over ten years’ time were two times as likely to die from ischemic heart disease than the participants who had heart rates that remained steady.  Ischemic heart disease is a reduction in blood supply to the heart, usually caused by a buildup of plaque in the arteries. Contributing factors that can lead to the buildup of plaque include high cholesterol and poor lifestyle choices such as bad diet and lack of exercise.

What is a Healthy Resting Heart Rate?

To figure out your resting heart rate, you just have to count the number of times your heart beats during a 60 second time span when you are inactive.  Your heart rate changes from moment to moment throughout the day based on your level of physical activity, whether you’re standing or sitting, who you’re talking to, your stress levels, and more.  Medical experts say that a resting heart rate between 60 and 90 BPM is generally considered healthy. A resting heart rate over 90 BPM is considered high.

Lowering Your Heart Rate with Exercise

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to lower your resting heart rate. When Lance Armstrong was in his prime, his resting heart rate was a mere 32 beats per minute. Aerobic exercises that get the blood pumping literally workout your heart muscle and can help improve the heart’s ability to effectively pump blood to the areas of your body. Other factors that can affect your resting heart rate include stress levels, medical conditions, and medications you may be taking.

If you haven’t changed your exercise routine or your lifestyle habits, but your resting heart rate has gone up, you should speak to your doctor about what the root cause may be and also discuss steps you can take to reduce your heart rate to a healthy level.  Aside from an increased risk of developing ischemic heart disease, an increased heart rate that is continual may lead to blood clots, heart attack, heart failure, and in some cases, stroke.