Resting heart rate: Five things it can tell you about your health

As well as being a good way to track your fitness, regularly checking your resting heart rate can alert you to a potential health issue. 

Generally a lower heart rate implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness. 

According to Mayo Clinic, a well-trained athlete might have a normal resting heart rare closer to 40 beats a minute. 

American company Fitbit has come up with a variety of other things your resting heart rate can identify, from overtraining to being too stressed. 

You’re sleep deprived 

If you’re always tired there’s a chance you’re suffering from chronic sleep deprivation which can lead to fatigue, a lower metabolism and can also raise your resting heart rate. Expert recommend seven to nine hours of sleep per night. 

You’re overtraining 

If you notice an increase in your resting heart rate when you’re going heavy on your training, your body may be telling you that you need to scale back, according to Fitbit. Make sure to have rest and give your body the opportunity to repair and adapt. 

You’re too stressed 

Fitbit says: “Prolonged mental and emotional stress can also cause your resting rate to creep up over time. 

“If ‘fight-or-flight’ mode becomes your norm, the associated increase in your resting heart rate can produce a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes and much more. 

“Try adding relaxation into your day—read, meditate, go for a walk with friends, or do a guided breathing session on your Fitbit Charge 2 or Fitbit Blaze.”

You’re dehydrated 

You may notice a temporary increase in your resting heart rate on a hot day - this is most likely your body trying to cool down. But it could also be a sign you’re dehydrated, in which case, drink more water to help lower your resting heart rate. 

You’re developing a medical condition 

Shortness breath, unusual fatigue, dizziness, excessive third or urination and an increase in your resting heart rate could mean you’re at risk of cardiovascular disease, hyperthyroidism or type 2 diabetes. 

If you do notice a change in your resting heart rate but none of the reasons above can help explain it, there could be two other factors, according to Fitbit - age and medication. 

It advises: “Unfortunately, as you get older, your resting heart rate tends to increase. To reduce the impact that raging can have on your cardiovascular system, you can help maximise your results by exercising without your target heart rate zone to help lower your resting heart rate. 

“Changes in your resting heart rate can also result from over-the-counter or prescription medication. Medications to treat asthma, depression, obesity, and attention deficit disorder tend to increase your resting heart rate. 

“However, medications prescribed for hypertension and heart conditions (beta blockers, calcium channel blockers) typically decrease your resting heart rate.

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