Tips & Strategies to Lower Your Heart Rate

The more you know about your heart rate, the better you can take care of it and lead a longer life overall. Your heart rate—the number of times your heart beats in one minute—is controlled by many factors, including age, gender, physical activity, and stress levels.
Understanding how to lower your heart rate now will help lower your risk of developing heart disease later in life. To understand the benefits of tracking your heart rate, you first need to understand what it is.

What is Heart Rate?

Heart rate is the number of times your heart beats in one minute (beats per minute). Your resting heart rate is the number of times your heart beats when you are at rest. Your maximum heart rate is the highest number of beats that your heart can take over a certain time period.
The Here and Now
If you’re looking to lower your heart rate in the short term, there are a few things you can do.

  • First, try some deep breathing exercises.
  • Sit up straight and inhale slowly through your nose, feeling your stomach expand.
  • Then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this 10 times.

You can also try relaxation techniques such as visualization or progressive muscle relaxation. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a peaceful place, or focus on tensing and relaxing each muscle group in your body from head to toe.

In the long run, there are lifestyle changes you can make to keep your heart rate down. Regular exercise is key. Start by adding 30 minutes of moderate activity to your daily routine, like brisk walking or swimming.

Steps to Check Your Heart Rate

Knowing how to check your heart rate is crucial in monitoring cardiac health. Follow these steps to read your heart rate:

  1. Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down.
  2. Place your index and middle fingers on your neck to the side of your windpipe.
  3. You can also check the pulse on your wrist by placing your fingers over the artery.
  4. When you feel your pulse, count the number of beats in 60 seconds.
  5. The normal heart rate is 60-100 beats per minute.
  6. If your heart rate is above 100, try some deep breathing exercises or relaxation techniques.

If you’re still unsure of the result, see a doctor.

What Type of Cardio?

When it comes to cardio, there are two main types:

  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
  • Low-intensity steady state (LISS)

HIIT is when you alternate between all-out effort and active recovery periods, while LISS is when you maintain a consistent level of moderate intensity effort.

Image alt text: forms of cardio vascular exercises to lower your heart rate:

Author credit: By U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Joan Kretschmer. – This image was released by the United States Navy with the ID 040412-N-6278K-067 (next).This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing.

Both have benefits, but HIIT is generally more effective for heart rate reduction.

But don’t forget that even if your goal isn’t solely about lowering your heart rate, there are other reasons why HIIT may be preferable as well:

  • First, HIIT helps reduce belly fat better than LISS does. It also improves glucose metabolism and lowers cortisol levels leading to better sleep quality.
  • But most importantly, some people find it easier to do long-term with greater consistency because they enjoy the variety and challenge of shifting gears during workouts.

In other words, whether you’re looking for an immediate effect or want something more sustainable in the long run, there’s something out there for everyone!

Steps to Lower Your Heart Rate in the Instant

Is your heart beating faster than it has been? Do you feel like you need instant relief? Follow these steps to reduce its rate.

  1. If you’re feeling anxious or stressed, the first step is to try and take some deep breaths.
  2. In through your nose, out through your mouth.
  3. Try and do this for at least a minute or two.
  4. Once you’re feeling a little more relaxed, try and find a comfortable position and focus on your breathing.
  5. Again. In through your nose, out through your mouth.
  6. As you focus on your breathing, you should start to feel your heart rate slowly lower.

If you’re still feeling anxious, repeat these steps until you feel better

Steps to Lower Your Heart Rate in the Long Run

1.  Get regular exercise.

This will help your heart become more efficient and reduce your resting heart rate over time.

2.  Eat a healthy diet.

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help reduce your risk of heart disease and also help lower your heart rate.

3.  Quit smoking.

Smoking is one of the leading causes of heart disease, so quitting will do wonders for your heart health and your heart rate.

4.  Limit alcohol consumption.

Too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure and lead to arrhythmias, so limiting yourself to one or two drinks a day is best for your heart health.

5.  Manage stress levels.

Stress can increase your heart rate, cause insomnia, anxiety, muscle tension and high blood pressure. Learning how to deal with stress will help you manage all of these things.

6.  Relaxation techniques

Try relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation to work through emotional issues and reduce symptoms of chronic diseases like depression and asthma.

All these strategies are great ways to maintain a healthy heart in the long run!

How Workout Influences Your Heart Rate

When you work out, your heart rate speeds up as your body demands more oxygen. The harder you work, the higher your heart rate will be. But as you get fitter, your heart won’t have to work as hard to pump blood around your body.

Image alt text: polar heart rate monitor used for checking the speed of your heart when you want to lower your heart rate.

Author credit: Public Domain,

So, over time, regular exercise should help to lower your resting heart rate. In order to reduce heart rate during exercise, stop for a minute if you feel like your heart is beating too fast or too hard.

Remember that it is normal for it to speed up when exercising so this doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. If it’s above 140 bpm (beats per minute) then drink some water and continue with the workout if you’re feeling okay; if not then stop for a while until it goes down below 140 bpm again.

Drink plenty of fluids before and after any type of workout; this will help keep your blood pressure from getting too high or low which can make matters worse.

What are the Consequences of an Increased Heart Rate

An increased heart rate can be a sign of many things, including stress, anxiety, or excitement. It can also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. If you’re experiencing an increased heart rate, it’s important to monitor your symptoms and seek medical attention if necessary.

In the long run, an increased heart rate can lead to:

  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • stroke,

Luckily, you can reduce your heart rate now and improve your overall health and well-being, if you follow a few best practices.

What can Cause the Heart Rate to Increase

There are many things that can cause your heart rate to increase. These include:

1.  Medical conditions

Some medical conditions such as asthma, an overactive thyroid or anemia can cause an increased heart rate.

2.  Nicotine

Nicotine has also been shown to raise blood pressure and slow down the heartbeat when consumed in large amounts.

Smoking cigarettes also increases carbon monoxide levels; this substance has been shown to cause an increase in heart rate in those who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

3.  Anxiety and stress

Stress can sometimes elevate your heart rate by causing you to sweat or shake, which puts your body into fight-or-flight mode (also known as sympathetic arousal). Many other emotions—anger, happiness, fear—can do so as well.

The good news is there are ways to manage these states of mind that may lower your heart rate. One way is through self-talk, which is talking back to yourself about what’s going on. Research has shown that self-talk can reduce stress and help people calm down, thus lowering their heart rates.

Other helpful techniques for managing stress may include exercise and relaxation methods like yoga or meditation.

4.  Anger

The most common cause of an increased heart rate is anger. When you are angry, your body produces adrenaline, which increases the rate of your heart and breathing.

Anger can cause a rapid increase in blood pressure and heart rate, as well as dilate the pupils.

5.  Fear

Another common cause of an increased heart rate is fear. Fear triggers the release of adrenaline into the body, which causes an increase in heart rate, respiration and blood pressure.

6.  Workout or physical activity

Exercise or physical activity such as climbing stairs or running from danger can increase the heart rate immediately.

7.  Caffeine

Caffeine has been shown to raise blood pressure and slow down the heart rate when consumed in large amounts. Caffeine should be avoided during pregnancy because it may affect fetal development.

8.  Breathing disorders

Breathing disorders such as wheezing, asthma and other conditions can cause an increased heart rate.

Diseases that Can Cause an Increased Heart Rate

There are many diseases that can cause an increased heart rate, but the most common is high blood pressure. High blood pressure causes the heart to work harder to pump blood through your body. This can lead to an increase in heart rate.

Other diseases that can cause an increased heart rate include:

1.   Coronary artery disease (CAD).

CAD is a condition in which plaque builds up on the inside walls of your arteries. Plaque may block an artery, causing it to become narrowed or blocked. This condition can lead to a stroke or heart attack.

2.  Arrhythmia

A second type of disease that can cause an increased heart rate is called cardiac arrhythmia. This occurs when the heart has a rapid and irregular beat, which can lead to fainting or dizziness.

3.  Pulmonary embolism (PE)

PE occurs when a large blood clot breaks off from one of your deep veins and travels throughout your lungs. This can cause shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing or hoarseness as well as dizziness and fainting because the brain doesn’t receive enough oxygenated blood.

4.  Atrial fibrillation

Another disease that can cause an increased heart rate is called atrial fibrillation. This condition occurs when the atria in the heart beat wildly, causing pain and even death if untreated.

5.  Aquagenic pruritus

Aquagenic pruritus is a rare condition that causes itching, burning and tingling in the skin due to an increase in blood flow to the hands and feet. It’s caused by a build-up of fluid in the body that can also affect other parts of the body, such as the face or scalp.

Foods that Can Help Lower Your Heart Rate

If you’re trying to decrease your heart rate, here are some foods that can help:

1.  Eggs

Eggs are one of the best sources of protein and healthy fats. They also contain choline, an essential nutrient that helps improve memory and learning ability. Egg yolks contain lecithin, which helps reduce cholesterol levels in the body.

2.  Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc and antioxidants, which support heart health. They’re also rich in fiber, which helps low-density lipoproteins (LDL) — “bad” cholesterol — move through the bloodstream more efficiently.

3.  Omega-3 fatty acids

Sardines are one of the few kinds of fish that contain omega-3 fatty acids — a type of fat that may help prevent cardiovascular disease by lowering triglycerides (a type of fat found in your blood). Omega-3s may also offer protection against depression and dementia, according to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition Research.

Salmon is another great source of protein, healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s also a good source of vitamin B12, which helps maintain healthy red blood cells and supports brain function.

4.   Caffeine.

Caffeine is a stimulant that can help you stay alert when you feel tired. It’s found in coffee, tea and chocolate. However, too much caffeine can have the counter-effect of raising your heart rate.

5.  Saturated fats

Fatty foods like butter, cream and cheese. These foods contain saturated fat, which can slow down your heart rate.

6.  Whole grains

Whole grains such as brown rice or whole wheat breads and pastas. These foods contain fiber that can slow down your blood flow and lower your heart rate.

7.   Dried fruits

Dried fruits such as raisins, prunes and apricots because they contain natural sugars that help to slow down the absorption of glucose into your bloodstream and lower your blood sugar levels.

8.  High-fiber diet

Eating a high-fiber diet can help lower your heart rate, according to new research from the University of Copenhagen.

The study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that eating foods with higher amounts of fiber, such as fruits and vegetables, helps reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 1 million Danes over six years and found that people who consumed more fiber had lower rates of cardiovascular disease compared to those who ate less fiber.

Increasing Heart Rate: When Should You See a Doctor?

If you’re concerned about your heart rate, or if you have a history of high blood pressure, diabetes or stroke, see a doctor.

If your heart rate is increasing, but at a normal pace — without any signs of distress — wait 24 hours and then talk to your doctor.

A few people have an increase in heart rate without any symptoms. But this can be dangerous, especially if it’s happening to someone who has a history of high blood pressure or diabetes.

What if you’re an athlete?

If you’re an athlete, your heart rate is the number of times it beats per minute. When you perform a task, like running or doing push-ups, your heart rate increases.

When this happens, your body tries to adapt to the situation by increasing how fast it pumps blood through the body. The result is that you may feel more tired than usual and start to lose energy.

Your heart rate can be measured in numbers like 140 beats per minute or 180 beats per minute. If your resting heart rate is over 70 beats per minute and doesn’t go back down after exercise, it could indicate a problem with your cardiovascular system. This could be a sign of a serious condition such as congestive heart failure or atrial fibrillation (AFib).

If you have been exercising regularly and haven’t noticed any changes in your health or fitness level but suddenly notice that your resting heart rate has increased significantly (more than four beats above what it was before), see a doctor right away.

What to Do If You Suspect a Faster Heart Rate May Lead to a Cardiac Event

If your heart rate is high and you feel dizzy, or if you have chest pain, shortness of breath, or discomfort in your arms or legs, call 911. If you think you may be having a heart attack or stroke, call 911 as soon as possible.

It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack or stroke because they can happen quickly and without warning. They’re also more common in men than women.

If you feel like you’re having a heart attack or stroke, follow these steps:

  • Get off the floor and into the nearest chair.
  • Sit upright with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Place one hand on top of the other in front of your chest.
  • Try not to bend at the waist while doing this; it could cause blood clots to form in your legs (deep vein thrombosis).
  • If someone assists you by supporting your shoulders back against a firm surface such as a table or wall, this may help reduce blood pooling around your legs (pulmonary embolism).

Try to relax but don’t try to do anything else — just take deep breaths as needed. If nothing else works, call 911 right away!

The Far-reaching Pros of Tracking Your Heart Rate

The benefits of tracking your heart rate are many:

1.   Maintain a healthy lifestyle

First, it will help you to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It will help you to be aware of how hard or easy your body is working. It can help you to gain an appreciation for the health benefits of exercise and give you a better understanding about how to achieve those goals.

2.   Know when to take corrective action

It can also help you to make healthy lifestyle changes by showing you how much exercise is needed and how much stress affects your body.

You may find that some days you need more exercise than others and that some days your heart rate may be lower than normal. Knowing this information will help you make healthy lifestyle changes.

3.   Prevent serious health problems

Finally, it can help prevent serious health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes which can lead to heart disease, stroke or other types of cardiovascular diseases– the leading cause of death in the US today compared to all cancers combined!

4.   Know how many calories you burn

Another benefit of tracking your heart rate is that it can help you find out how many calories you burn during exercise. Remember, you can’t estimate that without knowing your resting heart rate and maximum heart rate.

If you have an average resting heart rate of 70 beats per minute, then if you run for 30 minutes at that pace, then you will burn approximately 300 calories.

If this same person’s maximum heart rate was 150 beats per minute, then even though they ran for 30 minutes at 150 beats per minute, they still would only burn about 200 calories because their body was working much harder than it needed to be.

If you find that your heart rate climbs quickly after working out then it means that your body is burning more calories than usual. This means that if you keep exercising at this level then you will lose weight, which is great for people who want to get rid of excess baggage around their midsection and under their arms.

To Wrap Up

If you’re not sure what’s causing your heart rate to increase, talk to your doctor.

In general, there are a few strategies for lowering your heart rate: take slow deep breaths from the diaphragm; avoid stimulants like coffee, tea, cola drinks and cigarettes; drink plenty of water to stay hydrated; stretch before exercising; get some sleep.