Q:

How do you slow down your heart rate?

A:

Regular moderate to vigorous athletic activity can lower a person's resting heart rate, according to WebMD. The best type of exercise for lowering heart rate is aerobic exercise, which strengthens the heart and lungs, increasing the body's use of oxygen. Popular aerobic exercises include brisk walking, jogging, cross-country skiing, swimming, biking and rowing.

A resting heart rate is the number of times the heart beats each minute when one is sitting or lying down. To find the resting heart rate, the American Heart Association recommends that a person put one or two fingers over a pulse point, which can be found at the inside of a wrist or elbow, the side of the neck or the top of a foot. Then one counts the number of beats in 60 seconds. A normal resting heart rate is generally 60 to 100 beats per minute, though factors such as body size and medication use can raise or lower the rate.

A very active person can often lower his resting heart rate to below 60, indicating that the heart is stronger because of conditioning and is performing its tasks efficiently, says the National Emergency Medical Association. In general, a lower heart rate indicates good health. However, a very low heart rate, such as one below 40, is a symptom of a dangerous condition called bradycardia, which requires immediate medical attention. Likewise, a consistently high heart rate is symptomatic of a serious condition called tachycardia.

Because exercising itself involves health risks, WebMD stresses that an exerciser check with his doctor to find a program appropriate for his age, fitness and overall health.


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