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6 Science-Backed Ways to Lower Your Resting Heart Rate

Your resting heart rate is key to your overall health.

Caroline Roberts Digital Editorial Intern
Caroline Roberts writes articles and notifications for CNET. She studies English at Cal Poly, and loves philosophy, Karl the Fog and a strong cup of black coffee.
Caroline Roberts
5 min read
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We all want to live a long and healthy life, and many of us go to great pains to continually check in on our overall health. We keep track of our weight, deep sleep per night and even our waist-to-hip ratio, but how many of us are measuring our resting heart rate? Your resting heart rate is easy to ignore, but it's vital to our long-term health and well-being. A normal resting heart rate falls anywhere between 60 to 100 beats per minute, though if you're in great shape, it could be even lower.

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It's easy to measure. Just find your pulse on your neck or wrist, and count the number of beats you feel in 60 seconds. To some extent, your resting heart rate is influenced by outside factors, like the weather, your current emotions and medications you take. However, if it's consistently too high, you'll definitely want to get it checked out by a doctor, especially if you experience other symptoms, like dizziness, fatigue or shortness of breath.


Some fitness wearables can give you a measure of your resting heart rate.

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Even if your resting heart rate isn't high enough to warrant a medical condition, it'll be better for you in the long run if it falls toward the lower end of the range. One comprehensive study of a cohort of men and women suggested a higher rate of mortality for people that had a resting heart rate of over 70 beats per minute. 

Read more: Best Chest Strap Heart-Rate Monitors

If your average resting heart rate is higher than you'd like it to be, the good news is that there are concrete steps you can take to lower it. Here are six lifestyle changes you can make starting today for a healthier heart. 

1. Eat a heart-healthy diet


A heart-healthy diet can help ward off disease.

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What you eat has a large impact on your heart -- a diet high in deep-fried foods and sugary sweets is going to be hard on your heart. On the other hand, there are certain foods you can eat regularly to be kind to your body and improve the function of your heart

For example, eating fish has been linked to lower resting heart rate. Plus, fish is delicious, so if you're a meat-eater or a pescatarian there's no reason not to incorporate it into your diet more. If you can't stand fish, calcium is also imperative to a healthy heart. Foods like milk, cheese and yogurt contain calcium, and if you're lactose intolerant like me, you can get your fix with leafy greens and calcium-fortified breads and cereals.

If you don't eat any of these foods, omega-3 fatty acids help your heart function well. Chia seeds and walnuts are both rich in this essential nutrient. 

2. Exercise


I promise I'm not kidding -- donning a mermaid tail and hopping in the pool is a great way to work out.

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Working out consistently is one of the most reliable methods to lowering your resting heart rate, and aerobic exercise is the best way to do it. It may seem counterintuitive, but raising your heart rate frequently will help it slow down in the long run. And you don't have to consign yourself to the treadmill either -- one study showed that both endurance training and yoga both lowered participants' resting heart rate.

If you can't stand the gym, there are other fun ways you can fit your workouts in. Rock climbing, dancing and even pretending to be a mermaid are all effective (and fun) ways to exercise. 

Read more: 5 'Exercise Snacks' You Can Do for Heart Health

3. Quit smoking (and vaping)


Smoking cigarettes is one of the worst things you can do for your health.

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If you want to lower your resting heart rate, or have a healthier heart in general, ditch the cigarettes. Cardiac function has shown to be much better in nonsmokers, even while they're at rest. Vaping has been touted as a healthy alternative to traditional cigarettes, but some preliminary studies show that the flavorings in e-cigarettes can also hurt your heart.

Read more: 8 Strategies to Quit Smoking

4. Try to relax


Meditation is a great way to relax, and you can practice mindfulness anywhere. 

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I'm sure you're familiar with the feeling of being nervous or stressed out -- including your heart thumping wildly in your chest. While acute stress can raise your heart rate, chronic stress over time has also been shown to negatively impact heart health. 

There are many effective ways to relieve stress, and you should try them out and see what works for you. Personally, I meditate daily for 10 minutes and it's done wonders for my stress levels. You can even meditate on the go.

Walking outside in a green area can also be relaxing. You can practice the Japanese art of forest bathing by leaving all electronics behind and walking aimlessly, taking the smells and sounds of nature while you wander. You can also try getting a weighted blanket and using it when you want to relax or fall asleep.

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For acute stress, deep breathing exercises will lower a high resting heart rate, but if you find that stress is affecting your daily life, you may want to take a more long-term approach. 

Read more: 5 Beginner Breathing Exercises to Help Banish Stress

5. Get better sleep

At this point, I think sleep is basically regarded as a major key to all health problems. Sleep deprivation is bad for your heart, and it also tends to worsen mental health issues. If you wake up after a bad night's sleep, your resting heart rate may be temporarily elevated, while long-term loss of sleep may be a contributing factor to heart disease. 

If you find yourself tired on a consistent basis, you may have to take a closer look at your sleeping habits. Using screens too close to bedtime and ingesting too much caffeine may be culprits of an unhealthy sleeping schedule. If you don't already have a nighttime sleep routine, you should start cultivating one.

6. Drink more water


Everyone has different hydration needs depending on body size, weather and other factors.

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Hydration is also often overlooked, but it's vital to your well-being. When you're dehydrated, there's actually less blood traveling through your veins, and your heart rate has to increase to circulate the volume effectively.

Drinking enough water is especially important while you're exercising -- you can lose 2% of your body mass through sweat quite easily. This big loss of fluid is even harder on your heart. 

And forget disposable water bottles -- there's a lot of reusable models that'll make hydrating fun and simple. You can even buy a bottle that infuses fruit into the water, or a collapsible pouch that's easy to store.

Read more7 Ways Drinking More Water Can Make You Healthier

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.