Heart Rate and your Health: Things you Might Not Know!

People may not give much thought to their resting heart rate – but it’s a very important number in your life and one you should know about! Your resting heart rate is a good indicator of your general health and fitness level and it’s something you should be aware of, whether you’re an athlete or not.

If you want to learn what your resting heart rate is and also get an idea of what’s normal, or whether you should be concerned, you can do so by using the Fitbit app. The app enables you to monitor your real-time heart rate throughout workouts, understand your resting heart rate and know your cardio fitness level.

The average adult’s resting heart rate should be between 60 and 100 beats per minute, whereas it will be between 40 and 60 bpm for a highly conditioned athlete. If you don’t move much during the day – for example, if you’re in a desk job – your resting heart rate is likely to be at the top end of the average range, or maybe even higher.

By taking part in aerobic activities such as cycling, brisk walking and swimming, you can help your heart to pump blood more efficiently and also lose weight into the bargain. This will lower your resting heart rate – and even a modest reduction can reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease, thus extending your life expectancy.

The secret to a healthy heart is sensible training. While it’s not a good idea to live a sedentary lifestyle, it can also be detrimental to train too hard. Instead, you need to find a happy medium. If you’re training really hard and not resting properly between sessions, you may notice your resting heart rate increases.

This may be a signal from your body that you need to cut back the heavy training schedule and give your body the rest it requires, so you can come back stronger. However, this isn’t the only reason your resting heart rate might be too fast. Emotional and mental stress and anxiety can cause it to increase as well.

Any increase in your resting heart rate produces a greater risk of strokes and heart attacks. It could be important for you to find time for relaxation in your day-to-day life, such as going for a walk, meditating or doing guided breathing exercises with your Fitbit. All of these measures may help you to combat stress.

There may be simple reasons why your resting heart rate is higher than it should be, such as sleep deprivation. You should aim to have a minimum of seven hours’ sleep per night, as sleep deprivation can cause fatigue, a lower metabolism and subsequently a craving for more snacks. This can then increase your resting heart rate.

Another cause could be dehydration – if it’s a hot day and you realise your resting heart rate has increased, it could be a sign your body is trying to cool down and that you’re dehydrated. If you’re thirsty and have a dry mouth, drink more water, as this could lower your heart rate.

Some prescription or over-the-counter medications to treat conditions including asthma, obesity, depression and attention deficit disorder can increase your resting heart rate. Other medications prescribed for heart conditions and hypertension, such as beta blockers and calcium channel blockers, can lower your heart rate.

Another factor to note is that your resting heart rate automatically increases the older you get. You can modify this and take steps to lower it again by exercising to reduce the impact of ageing on your cardiovascular system.

The steps you should take to lower your resting heart rate include exercising more and losing weight if necessary – the larger your body, the harder your heart works to supply it with blood. Try to reduce stress where possible and avoid tobacco products, as smokers have a higher resting heart rate. Remember, it’s never too late to take steps towards a healthier heart!

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