Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death among adults in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020), heart diseases account for about 655,000 cases of death each year. This is brought about by high blood pressure, cholesterol, and smoking being key risk factors of heart diseases. Several medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also have detrimental effects and put people at risk for heart disease — these include diabetes, overweight and obesity, unmonitored and unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol intake. In Health Line (2021), regrettably, only less than 3% of Americans are practicing a healthy lifestyle, the other 97% do not meet the ideal “healthy lifestyle” criteria which is the potential roadway to protect their hearts and normalize their blood pressure, pulse rate, and heart rate.
The heart ensures that your organs and muscles are provided with ample oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to function properly. Through the help of the sinoatrial node, atrioventricular node, and the HIS bundle, the heart muscle is able to contract and continuously pump blood in the body. Contractions per minute constitute your heart rate, that is how many times your heart pumps blood in your body per minute. The three major heart rate indicators include resting, maximum, and recovery.
- Resting heart rate – this is your heart rate when your body is not doing anything. A normal resting heart ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute for adults. A lower heart rate at rest indicates a more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness. Ketiyan (2019) sheds light on the importance of resting heart rate being a vital sign that can indicate heart health improvement or a potential health problem.
- Maximum heart rate – is the number of maximum beats your heart reaches in a minute. This is also indicative of exhaustion which forces the body to use large muscle groups and adrenaline physically and mentally.
- Recovery heart rate – refers to how fast the heart can return to its resting or normal level after any physical activity. In lower intensities, the heart rate can go back to normal at a fast rate while it might take a little longer to recover from high ones.
With these, it can be realized that heart rate is directly related to stroke volume or the amount of blood pumped with each heartbeat highlighting the fact that heart rates are as important as the other bodily functions. Here are a few ways that can help you build healthy habits and better your heart rate simultaneously:
Get some quality rest.
Let the tiresome feeling pass and simply wait for a few days (Nystoriak and Bhatnagar, 2018). Rest and sleep can help in achieving good health and well-being. This is when your body and mind can replenish their energy and recharge. This step can also stabilize your heart rate, especially if you are tired, stressed, or are overdosed on caffeine after a long day of work. Reload with water as dehydration can affect your organs and their functions, including the heart and cardiovascular system negatively (Hanna, 2019) While you are on your way to relax-city, make room for meditation which can also play its part in reducing cardiovascular risks by producing changes in brain activity leading to less sympathetic nerve outflow.
Go for a run (or walk).
You can improve your heart rate quicker as you become fitter. Know that your recovery heart rate is good when it beats 25 to 30 times per minute, excellent when it beats 50 to 60. You can include easy exercises in your running or walking activities alternating between moderate and vigorous (Fuzeki and Banzer, 2018). For this, a sports smartwatch can be very useful as you can determine your heart rate for every exercise you do. If you form a habit of measuring your heart rate, you will always have a background on whether or not you are training at the appropriate intensity level.
Revisit your diet.
What you eat can cause changes in your blood flow and can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Overeating can also cause your heart to work twice as hard since you may need more blood going to your digestive system and this results in upping your heart rate. Frequently, do a self-check as regards your diet. Make sure you are getting enough potassium as it can regulate your heart rate and reduce the effect that sodium has on your blood pressure. Consider more greens and commit to eating healthy. There are many plant-based tasty meals that can help normalize your cardiovascular health while staying in shape.
Clearly, diet, exercise, and rest equally help in achieving a healthier lifestyle. Lifestyle interventions improve heart rate and can be beneficial to your overall wellbeing in the long run. It might take a lot of effort and time but its results can extend your life and make it more meaningful.