In this day and age with all the advancements in technology, emerging ideas in sports psychology, improved sports equipment, etc., athletes are trying to do what they can to gain whatever kind of edge they can over their opponents. One such method that can be used to heighten an athlete’s training and fine-tune their workouts is paying attention to their resting heart rate and working to try to improve it. This is important because your resting heart rate can be a useful way to measure your fitness and overall health.
Resting heart rate is the measure of your average heart beats per minute (bpm) while your body is in a state of rest. In general, a lower resting heart rate is a good thing. So, what is a normal resting heart rate? Well, according to the American Heart Association, a normal resting heart rate is usually between 60 and 100 bpm. However, for many athletes and people who are consistently active, their normal resting heart rate can usually dip closer to 40 bpm. Some other factors that contribute to an individual’s resting heart rate is gender (typically females have a higher resting heart rate than males because their hearts are smaller, which produces less blood flow with each beat so the heart must beat faster to get the same output) and age (one’s resting heart rate usually increases as they get older).
As discussed above, many athletes will do whatever it takes to get the edge on their opponents. And one way they do this is by working to decrease their resting heart rate. This is because “when your heart rate goes down, it means that each heart beat is more effective”. A low resting heart rate is an indicator of a strong heart muscle that can then pump out more blood with every beat so that it doesn’t have to beat as frequently. Your physical fitness is directly related to how strong your heart is. Therefore, when your heart is stronger and doesn’t have to work as hard to push blood throughout the body or deliver oxygen to your muscles, your fitness level increases.
So, if having a lower resting heart rate is the goal, what are some things that you can do to accomplish that? First and foremost – and this is probably a given – exercise! More specifically, aerobic exercise (like running or biking that you can maintain for longer periods of time at 70-80% of your max heart rate) is ideal for building cardiovascular strength. Furthermore, the following list of behaviors can also help you decrease your resting heart rate:
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating a well-balanced diet
- Drinking enough water
- Avoiding alcohol
- Limiting caffeine intake