10 Ways to Lower Your Heart Rate

Medically Reviewed By Dr. Payal Kohli, M.D., FACC
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There are several ways to lower your heart rate. These include ways to lower your resting heart rate over time and methods to temporarily lower your heart rate if it is too high. You should always contact your doctor if you feel concerned about your heart rate. Having a high resting heart rate can be normal but may signify a lower level of fitness and higher body weight and blood pressure.

When you lower your heart rate, you are helping your heart “rest” and work more efficiently to get blood and oxygen to your body, which supplies the energy you use to function. A typical resting heart rate is in the range of 60–100 beats per minute (bpm).

Here are some proven tips on how to lower your heart rate in both the short and long term.

1. Exercise regularly

a group of people are running a race outside
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When you exercise, your muscles — including your heart muscle — become stronger.

As your heart becomes stronger, it does not have to work as hard to pump the blood you need to carry oxygen to the rest of your body, so it beats more slowly. Exercise can be one of the most effective ways to maintain heart health.

Experts recommend getting about 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. If you do not have time for exercise sessions, try to increase your daily activity as much as you can as you go about your routine. For example, walking is a great exercise for heart health.

Learn how exercise helps with heart disease here.

2. Get enough sleep

People who do not get enough sleep can be at higher risk of conditions that can mean that the heart has to pump harder and faster to do the work. These conditions include:

There are also more stress hormones that activate with poor sleep.
There are many ways to improve your sleep quality. For example, boosting your sleep hygiene by establishing a healthy bedtime routine can be a great way to promote deep sleep. Also, try avoiding screens for a few hours before sleeping.

Get more tips for better sleep here.

3. Eat a heart-healthy diet

Following a cardiac diet can help you lower your resting heart rate. The following tips can help you follow a heart-healthy diet:

  • Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
  • Include protein sources, such as:
    • fish
    • poultry
    • nuts
    • legumes, including beans, peas, and lentils
  • Lower your salt intake.
  • Minimize processed foods and sugar.
  • Limit your alcohol intake.
  • Use olive oil and other non-tropical oils sparingly.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Many people find that using herbs and spices instead of sauces can make healthy meals just as satisfying and flavorful.
Learn more about heart-healthy foods here.

4. Maintain a healthy weight

Carrying extra weight affects your heart as well as your joints, and it pumps faster to keep up. If you have overweight or obesity, lowering your weight to a target body mass index (BMI) of 18.5–24.9 can help lower your heart rate.

Healthy weight loss comes down to a few basics. For example, it is important to expend more calories than you take in. You can do this by increasing your activity, eating less food, or both. Also, try cutting back on sugar and processed foods.

Learn more about weight control and obesity here.

5. Reduce stress with breathing techniques

Even minor stressors can make your heart rate go up. Try to reduce sources of stress where you can, or try some methods to reduce feelings of stress as they happen.

For example, practice taking a few deep breaths when you are in a stressful situation, such as having problems at work or arguments with loved ones. If you can step back from the moment and give yourself a moment to calm down, your heart rate should go down.

6. Avoid smoking

Smoking can damage the heart and cause your pulse rate to go up. More specifically, one 2015 study found that smoking a pack of cigarettes per day raises your heart rate by 7 bpm.

You can obtain quick results for your heart if you quit smoking. Your heart rate could go down in as little as 20 minutes, and your blood flow will improve in a matter of weeks.

Get tips on how to quit smoking here.

7. Connect with nature

A 2019 review of studies found that just viewing nature could slow participants’ heart rates down. This was especially the case when viewing images of lakes, lawns, and forests.

When possible, spend time in nature. You could try hiking, or, if you live in an urban area, you could use parks and other green spaces.

8. Take a warm bath or shower

If you feel tense and feel that your heart is pounding or racing, try taking a bath or shower. Make the environment as peaceful as possible, and take your time. Give your heart a chance to relax and get back to a lower heart rate.

Be aware that with some conditions, such as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, you may notice your heart rate speeding up during hot baths or showers. If this happens, try reducing the temperature of the bathroom and ensuring that the room is well ventilated. Also, avoid standing up too fast if you have taken a bath.

If you are concerned that your heart rate is too high or that you are experiencing palpitations, always contact your doctor.

9. Develop techniques for long-term stress reduction

Stress makes our bodies release adrenaline, which increases the heart rate. If that goes on for a sustained period of time, it could damage the heart.

Yoga, meditation, and relaxation techniques are good habits to develop to cope with stress in a way that is healthy for your heart and will lower your heart rate.

Get seven tips for managing stress here.

10. Try vasovagal maneuvers

Vagal maneuvers can slow down a heart rate that has temporarily increased because of caffeine consumption, overexertion, or stress, for instance. These maneuvers stimulate the vagus nerve, which helps regulate the heart.

Try breathing out with your stomach muscles without letting any air out of your nose or mouth. Some people refer to this as bearing down.

Hold your breath in this way for 10–15 seconds, then release the air slowly.

Healthy heart rate ranges

Heart rate ranges can vary according to age and general health.

Heart rateConditionMeaning
Your heart rate is below 60 bpm. This is known as bradycardia.A low heart rate can be healthy in athletes, but if it causes fainting, dizziness, or tiredness, contact a doctor.
Your heart rate is 60–100 bpm.This is a typical resting heart rate.A heart rate in this range reflects a lower risk of heart disease.
Your heart rate is above 100 bpm.This is known as tachycardia.If your resting heart rate is over 100 bpm on a regular basis, contact a healthcare professional. It could indicate one of many potentially dangerous conditions.

In children, a typical resting heart rate should be in the range of 70–100 bpm.

What is considered a dangerously high heart rate?

A dangerously high heart rate depends on your age and physical condition, but having a resting heart rate of over 100 bpm or an irregular heart rate is a sign that you should call your doctor, who may send you to a cardiologist.

If you experience symptoms such as palpitations, which is a fluttering or irregular sensation in your chest, dizziness, chest pain, or shortness of breath for longer than a few minutes, seek emergency care by calling 911 or going to an emergency room (ER).

How to check your pulse

You can check your pulse by following these steps:

  1. Place two fingers on the inside of your wrist, below your thumb.
  2. Press lightly and shift your fingers as needed until you feel your pulse.
  3. Count the number of beats in a 30-second period, then double this number to get your bpm count.

Your pulse will vary according to how active, anxious, or relaxed you are.

Potential causes of a high heart rate

You can develop a high heart rate for many different reasons. Here are some of the more common causes:

Arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation and supraventricular tachycardia can also cause the heart to beat quicker than usual.

When to contact a doctor and what to expect

If your resting heart rate is over 100 bpm or your heart rate increases rapidly with position changes, contact your doctor. They can assess you and determine whether or not you should visit a cardiologist.

They may perform a physical exam, ask you questions about your symptoms and medical history, order blood work, and give you a test called an electrocardiogram, which measures the electrical pulses in the heart.

A cardiologist can order imaging studies, provide halter monitors, and give you a stress test, through which they can see how your heart functions when you exert yourself and prescribe treatment, if necessary.

If you think that your heart rate is high and you feel dizzy, have a fluttering sensation in your chest, have chest pains, or faint, contact a doctor immediately or call 911.

Learn more about when to go to the ER for a fast heart rate here.

Summary

For most people, resting heart rate can be a good indicator of basic heart health. Having a lower heart rate usually means that the heart is not working as hard.

You can lower your resting heart rate by following a healthy lifestyle and learning how to cope with stress. Monitoring your resting heart rate over time can help you know how your heart is faring.

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Medical Reviewer: Dr. Payal Kohli, M.D., FACC
Last Review Date: 2022 Jan 26
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.