Generally speaking, people who are fit and active have lower heart rates. However, the American Heart Association recently changed high blood pressure guidelines to 130/80 instead of 140/90—do you know your numbers?

After all, that’s one of the go-to signs to check and see if your health is improving. If you undertake a running regimen, take up walking, or start urban hiking, you should see your resting heart rate decrease during training. However, that’s not always true, and some very fit people have a high resting heart rate.

The Copenhagen Male Study focused on 3,000 men over a 16 year period. They weren’t asked to change their exercise routine, diets, supplement regimen or anything else during the study. Some of the men were active, and some weren’t, but the study revealed some shocking information.

Heart Rate Linked to Death

Just like expected, most of the men in the study who were active had lower heart rates. However, there were a few that were athletic, kept up with their regular work outs, and still had a high resting heart rate. At the end of the 16-year study, researchers found that a high heart rate is linked to a higher risk of death no matter how fit a person is. It doesn’t matter their BMI, their body fat percentage, or how many times a week they worked out.

The lesson to take from this is that your resting heart rate can be a key red flag. Use it as a gauge for your overall health, and work with a doctor to lower your heart rate via natural means. The good news is that there are ways to lower your resting heart rate if exercise doesn’t work. This doesn’t mean you should stop working out, but it does mean you should consider adding other items to your self-care plan.

Natural Ways to Lower Your Resting Heart Rate

Stress is a big cause of a high heart rate, so discover your own avenues for alleviating it. This might mean meditation, checking in with a counselor regularly, yoga, or better time management skills. It’s also crucial to get however many hours of sleep your body requires (the average is eight). Include a fish oil pill with your vitamin cocktail, as omega-3 fatty acids can help lower your heart rate.

Another tactic is to work on deep breathing exercises. If you don’t want to get sweaty on a particular day, seek out a pranayama class or get a massage. Both massages and breathing exercises can help. Finally, relieve your bladder regularly as holding it in can surprisingly make your heart rate spike.

Should You Worry?

Everyone should know their resting heart rate. If you’re concerned, talk with your doctor and always try natural approaches first. He or she can recommend an individualized treatment plan to help. If you want to lower your heart rate, you can.
Make it a priority and remember that stress only makes situations worse. Focus on well-being, relaxation and enjoying life. That’s the best way to lower your heart rate and enjoy every day.