Does Your Heart Have A Maximum Number Of Beats
The maximum number of lifetime heartbeats for humans is about 3 billion. But you wont die when you reach a set number of heartbeats. Heartbeats, however, are a marker of your metabolic rate. The faster your metabolic rate , the shorter your lifespan.
The total number of heartbeats per lifetime is amazingly similar across all mammals. For example, a mouse has a heart rate of 500 to 600 beats per minute but lives less than two years. At the other extreme, a Galápagos tortoise has a heart rate of about six beats per minute and has a life expectancy of 177 years.
Do the math and the heart of a mouse beats 100 times faster than that of a tortoise. But a tortoise lives 100 times longer than a mouse. Humans, however, have about 60 bpm and have about 3 billion heartbeats per lifetime.
Why Heart Rate Rises & How To Lower It
In todays health article we take a look at heart rate. Specifically, why it increases during exercise and how to lower a resting heart rate.
We have all been there. You decide you want to exercise, or for some reason you had to perform some kind of strenuous physical activity.
Everything goes well for a few minutes, but then all of a sudden you can feel your heart speed up and you start to notice how your body changes.
Exercise is obviously extremely beneficial but it doesnt always leave us feeling very comfortable. So why do our bodies respond in this way?
In todays article we answer two questions:
1) Why does your heart rate increase during exercise?
2) How do you lower your resting heart rate?
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First, lets talk blood pressure
You may or may not have noticed, but when you exercise, your blood pressure rises. This is not a problem and is actually quite common. When you start exercising, your oxygen-rich blood flows much faster through your body. This allows your blood pressure to rise. Since your body pumps out more blood per minute, the veins in your muscles expand.
Why does your heart rate increase during exercise?
Quick Fact: What does the heart do? Its actually a muscle that pumps blood around the body by contracting.
This is what happens:
How to lower resting heart rate
2. Start exercising regularly.
When Your Heart Rate Spikes
Sometimes, your pulse might jump up for a little while. Most of the time, you heart will slow down naturally. If not, or if it happens regularly, these things can help get that number down.
Vagal maneuvers: These physical actions can reset your heart rate. For example, hold your nose and breathe out of your mouth. Itâs similar to when you want to pop your ears when youâre on an airplane. Or you can put your face in ice-cold water for several seconds or cough forcefully.
Medication: Your doctor may prescribe it to help treat an abnormal heart rate. Things like beta-blockers may help prevent future episodes.
Pacemaker: This small device can sense a rapid heartbeat. When it does, it sends an electrical signal and helps the heart return to normal. Your doctor would implant it under your skin.
Catheter ablation: Sometimes the cause of your racing pulse may be an extra electrical pathway in the heart. Your doctor would perform this procedure, which makes it so the extra circuit no longer sends signals. It doesnât require surgery. Usually, this is suggested only when medicines don’t work.
American Heart Association: âKnow your target heart rates of exercise, losing weight and health,â “Tachycardia: Fast Heart Rate,â “Ablation for Arrhythmias.”
CDC: âHealth Effects of Cigarette Smoking.â
Circulation: âFish Consumption is Associated with Lower Heart Rates.â
The Heart Foundation: âYour Heart Rate.â
âWhatâs a normal resting heart rate?â
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Resting Heart Rate : Everything You Need To Know
Originally published July 6, 2016 3:58 pm, updated August 18, 2021
One of the easiest and maybe most effective ways to gauge your health and aerobic fitness level is via your resting heart rate . By measuring it regularly, you can see both your long-term progress and daily fluctuations, which can indicate whether youre fit for training, overtrained, or stressed. Heres everything you need to know to understand what affects RHR and why it matters.
How Does Exercise Affect Heart Rate
Its important to get your heart rate up while exercising. This strengthens your heart. The stronger your heart is, the more efficiently its pumping blood, Johnson says. And if your hearts pumping efficiently, it doesnt need to beat as quickly when at rest.
The key metric when exercising is identifying your maximum heart rate, usually defined as 220 minus your age. The American Heart Association uses this number to define target heart rate ranges for moderate, intense, and maximum intensity during a workout.
Its old school, concedes Johnson. But it remains the best way to create an exercise program tailored for your specific fitness level and goals.
A second key metric in assessing your heart rate is how fast it returns to normal after vigorous exercise. A prompt recovery to your pre-exercise heart rate is generally linked to numerous health benefits, including lower risk of death. As we age, it takes the heart longer to return to a normal heart rate. This is true even for healthy people.
In one large study, researchers analyzed the exercise recovery patterns and risk of death of about 2,500 people who had no existing cardiac conditions. The participants exercised to exhaustion, and researchers measured their heart rates after one minute of rest. The recovery was considered normal if the heart rate dropped more than 12 beats per minute between the moment of peak exercise and the end of the rest period. Otherwise, the recovery was labeled abnormal.
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How To Check Your Heart Rate
Checking your heart rate can be done anytime, anywhere and doesnt cost a dime. The first step is to find your pulse. You can try the wrist, inside of the elbow, side of your neck, or top of your foot. These are usually the easiest places to feel the pulse. To get the most accurate reading, put your finger over your pulse and count the number of beats in 60 seconds. If youre under 100, youre probably good to go. If youre higher than that, its time to lower your heart rate.
How To Measure Your Heart Rate
The best time to measure your pulse is in the morning, before you get out of bed and before you’ve had your morning coffee or tea.
You can check your heart rate at your wrist. Lightly place your second and third fingers of one hand on the inside of your other wrist, below the base of your thumb. You should feel your pulse under your fingertips. Count the number of beats in one minute. Repeat to make sure you get a consistent reading.
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Effects Of Different Types Of Sports On Rhr
In the meta-analysis of 16 trials by Huang et al. , the magnitude of net change of RHR due to endurance training in older adults averaged 6.16 ± 0.97 bpm, representing a mean reduction of 8.4%. The mean effect of yoga identified in the meta-analysis of nine trials by Cramer et al. was very similar . This meta-analysis included both healthy and diseased participants. Zou et al. combined four trials and described a significant decrease of the RHR due to qigong . Tai chi exercise reduced the RHR by 0.72 .
The meta-analysis of the five RCTs on strength training included in our review did not yield significant effects: our results indicate that strength training has no significant impact on the RHR. Nevertheless, by stratification of sexes strength training and a combined endurance and strength training significantly decreased the RHR in females, but not in males.
All other sports types also resulted in a decrease of the RHR. However, the effects did not reach significance, due possibly to insufficient statistical power caused by too small sample sizes and/or only few available trials. The higher the initial RHR, the more the RHR decreased due to exercise. The effect occurs after only a few monthson average, three months with three training sessions per week. Furthermore, the participants´ age was negatively associated with the exercise-induced decrease of the RHR, although the elderly participants did not exercise less than their younger counterparts.
How To Lower The Heart Rate
Practicing meditation or yoga may help to lower the heart rate.
If the heart rate is suddenly spiking in response to issues such as emotional stress or environmental factors, addressing the cause is the best way to reduce the heart rate.
Ways to reduce sudden changes in heart rate include:
- practicing deep or guided breathing techniques, such as box breathing
- relaxing and trying to remain calm
- going for a walk, ideally away from an urban environment
- having a warm, relaxing bath or shower
- practice stretching and relaxation exercises, such as yoga
Many lifestyle habits can contribute to lower the resting heart rate in the long term.
They may also improve a persons ability to maintain a healthy heart rate during physical activity and stress.
The following tips may help to lower the heart rate in the long term:
1. Exercise: The easiest and most effective way to achieve a lasting lower heart rate is to do regular exercise.
2. Stay hydrated: When the body is dehydrated, the heart has to work harder to stabilize blood flow. Throughout the day, drink plenty of sugar- and caffeine-free beverages, such as water and herbal tea.
3. Limit intake of stimulants, such as caffeine and nicotine: Stimulants can cause dehydration, increasing the hearts workload.
4. Limit alcohol intake: Most forms of alcohol dehydrate the body. Alcohol is also a toxin, and the body must work harder to process and remove it.
Heart-healthy nutrients include:
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What Are The Best Places To Check Pulse
The best places to check your heart rate are your wrist, the side of your neck, the inside of your elbow, and the top of your foot .
How to Check Your Pulse Video
Watch Emily Reeve, the Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, show you how to check your pulse.
Heart Rate Monitors
You can track your heart rate with a wrist monitor like the popular LETSCOM Fitness Tracker .
Or, check out this detailed review of heart rate monitors to help you find the right one for you.
Heart rate monitors make it easier to track your heart rate consistently and learn which activities raise or lower your pulse the most.
Keep Your Doctor Informed Of Your Resting Heart Rate
This article is not meant to diagnose or treat you. Its intended to help you understand one aspect of your health, your resting heart rate. This article is based on scientific research, but science is continually changing. Thus, this information is subject to change.
Everyone is different and has unique circumstances. Consult with your doctor about any changes in your health, diet, and exercise.
Read my full medical disclaimer here.
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Resting Heart Rate And Health
A relatively low resting heart rate is considered healthy, while a high resting heart rate may increase the risk of various conditions.
A lower heart rate allows the heart to maintain a healthful rhythm and respond to routine stressors efficiently. These may include exercise, illness, and day-to-day activities.
Having a relatively low heart rate is a significant contribution to overall health. An abnormally high heart rate can lead to a variety of health risks and conditions.
Complications associated with a high heart rate include:
- low energy levels
Stress may cause a high heart rate.
Each heartbeat arises from specialized muscle cells called myocytes.
When these cells need more oxygen, as during exercise, the brain sends messages to the heart, causing myocytes to make stronger, more frequent pulses.
Everyone experiences sudden, temporary changes in their heart rate. They may be caused by:
Having a chronically high or abnormal heart rate is often a sign of an unhealthy lifestyle or an underlying medical condition.
Common long-term causes of a high heart rate include:
- lack of exercise
Effects Of Exercise On Rhr By Considering Different Types Of Sports/exercise
The mean baseline and post-interventional RHR according to the different forms of sports and/or exercise are presented in . Under consideration of all comparisons, the RHR significantly decreased more in the exercising groups compared to the control groups . The meta-analyses on specific types of sports and exercise also revealed significant higher decreases in RHR in the intervention compared to the corresponding control groups for endurance training , yoga , strength training , and combined endurance and strength training .
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How Do I Measure My Resting Heart Rate
A heart rate sensor is the most accurate way to measure your RHR. Discover how to monitor your RHR when using this technology with our guide to measuring your resting heart rate.
Also known as your basal heart rate because it is your base measurement
If you dont have a heart rate sensor, you can try measuring it yourself by checking your pulse. You can choose between your carotid artery or your radial artery .
You should never use your thumb to take this measurement as it has its own pulse, which could cause you to miscount. Instead, place your index and third fingers on either your neck or wrist. Count the number of beats in 15 seconds and then times this number by four to calculate the beats per minute.
The American Heart Association recommends checking your RHR first thing in the morning before getting out of bed. The caffeine in your morning coffee or tea will cause heart palpitations, so make sure you measure your RHR before making your heart rate rise.
Dont attempt to measure your resting heart rate after exercise or a stressful event. Leave it an hour as your RHR is high after a workout or any strenuous activity. Allow your resting heart rate recovery time just like the rest of your body.
Want to work out max heart rate? Use our calculator.
The Experts Say: Do More Cardio
The good news is that there are some easy steps anyone can take to calm the heart down. One of the most effective ways is to practice relaxation, deep breathing techniques and meditation. Many find it helpful to go for a walk in the nature or do mindful workouts. A warm shower or bath can also provide prompt assistance.
Sorry, wine-drinkers, but alcohol has the same dehydrating effect on the body as coffee.
Coffee-lovers should take note that stimulants like caffeine can cause dehydration, which in turn makes the heart work harder to stabilize the blood flow. Also alcohol delivers toxins into the body, making the heart work harder to process and remove them.
If youre looking for a way to lower your RHR in an effective and more permanent way, the experts advice is unanimous: do more cardio.
While strength training, too, makes the heart stronger, it is cardiovascular exercise which, over time, increases the hearts efficiency to regulate blood flow and distribute the oxygen which our bodies need for their systems.
Studies have found that if an aerobic exercise is performed for a long time, it will affect the parasympathetic nerve, thus increasing stroke volume and lowering the resting heart rate.
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Risk Of Bias In Individual Studies
The characteristics of the samples and the results of the risk of bias assessment included in the present review are shown in . In 178 samples, the participants were randomly assigned to the exercising and control groups with 10 articles presenting detailed information about the mode of randomization. Nine samples were based on non-randomized collectives. In the remaining 27 samples, no information about randomization was given.
In only two studies , the researchers were blinded regarding the assignment of the participants to the intervention and control group.
In 153 samples, the method used for measuring the RHR was described: conventional or long-term electrocardiography or sport tester heart rate monitors , automatic sphygmomanometer , auscultation , pulse monitor , palpation , oscillometer , and oximeter . 62 studies gave no information regarding the measurement methods of the RHR.
How Long Does It Take To Lower Resting Heart Rate
It takes about 12 weeks to lower your resting heart rate. Studies show that you can lower your resting heart rate with diet and exercise in 12 weeks.
A low resting heart rate means that your circulatory system is efficient. Diet and exercise will make your body more efficient by asking for more work from it.
Your body however, needs time to adapt to the changes you make. These changes include enlarging your heart, increasing red blood cells, building more capillaries, and increasing mitochondria in your muscles.
Alternatively, you can lower your resting heart rate at any moment by slowing your breathing or with meditation. Practice breathing deeply and slowly and your resting heart rate will slow more quickly in response to stress or exercise.
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Return To Normal Heart Rate
Your normal heart rate is the heart rate speed at which your heart beats when you’re at rest. Because this number varies from person to person, you’ll need to measure your own resting heart rate before you start to exercise. Measure your heart rate again a few seconds before you stop your workout. Then keep measuring at intervals of about one minute. If your heart rate is 190 during exercise and your resting heart rate is 80, it could take you several minutes for your heart rate to return to normal. While your heart rate might drop about 20 beats during the first minute, it might slow down to a drop of 15 or so during the second and third minutes.