Plus, three key strategies that might just save your life
When it comes to cardiovascular health, blood pressure and cholesterol levels typically come to mind.
But there’s another metric that’s often overlooked, yet vitally important.
It’s one that reflects the current state of your heart’s function.
It also has implications for other aspects of your health—both now and in the future. In fact, research reveals it might lead to cognitive decline… or even an early death.
The good news is, modern health trackers already collect data on this metric every day, making it easy to know yours. Plus, understanding how you can improve your number—with three key strategies—might just save your life.
Here’s everything you need to know.
Lower is (almost) always better
I’m talking about your resting heart rate (RHR)—or your pulse.
We have been taught to take our pulse from our wrist or neck the old-fashioned way. (You simply count the beats over 15 seconds and multiply that number by four.) But nowadays, any wearable fitness device will do this automatically.
A normal resting heart rate ranges between 60 and 85 beats per minute (bpm). (That’s after sitting or lying down for ten minutes.) And it’s influenced by many factors—including hormone levels, physical fitness levels, and your autonomic nervous system (which regulates your heartbeat, breathing, and digestion).
So it’s not hard to see why a pulse that’s too low is a problem. But, in general, the lower your RHR is, the better.
Just think of it like this: The fewer beats it takes to pump blood, the healthier and more efficient your heart muscle is.
That’s exactly why a high RHR is particularly troublesome, too…
Higher beats per minute could triple death risk
A 2013 study of around 3,000 Danish men linked a higher resting heart rate with lower fitness levels and higher blood pressure, weight, and triglycerides.1 None of which is too surprising.
But researchers discovered that a high RHR also increased one’s death risk regardless of fitness levels, exercise levels, or other cardiovascular risk factors.
In fact, a resting heart rate:
- Between 51 and 80 bpm was linked to as much as a 50 percent higher risk of death.
- Between 81 and 90 bpm doubled death risk.
- Higher than 90 bpm tripled death risk.
Ultimately, for every 10 to 22 additional beats per minute of a subject’s resting heart rate, his risk of dying skyrocketed by an overall 16 percent. (Being a smoker increased this risk even more.)
Of course, the role that RHR plays in cardiovascular health and death risk might seem obvious.
But more recent research reveals some less obvious connections—namely, between RHR and cognitive decline…
Dementia risk increases
In a study of more than 2,000 older Swedish adults, subjects with a RHR of 80 bpm or higher faced a 55 percent higher risk of dementia.2 (That’s compared with subjects with lower heart rates, between 60 and 69 bpm.)
Researchers followed them for more than a decade. While cognitive scores fell over time across all heart rate groups, those with higher resting heart rates declined more quickly.
Considering the close relationship between heart and brain health, this finding isn’t too surprising. But it offers insight into a simple intervention that could ward off memory loss.
Because the truth is, maintaining a healthy RHR is hardly rocket science. Here are three key strategies that can help…
High-intensity heart support
My first recommendation is hardly a surprise. It’s one of the most important things you can do for your health: exercise.
Exercise increases your heart rate during a workout, therefore training your heart to be stronger. (Remember, your heart is a muscle.) And the stronger your heart gets, the more efficiently it will pump blood at rest.
My personal favorite form of exercise to increase heart health is high-intensity interval training (HIIT)—where short bursts of intense exertion are separated by lower intensity intervals.
This type of exercise is particularly beneficial to mitochondria, which are your heart’s tiny power centers. (In fact, one recent study showed that this type of workout can boost mitochondrial capacity by nearly 70 percent among older subjects.)3
And while I know it may sound ominous, it really isn’t. Your baseline intensity starts with your individual capacity… and ramps up from there as you get fitter.
But as always, consistency is the key where exercise is concerned. So make sure you’re moving daily, even if it’s just for a casual walk.
Regular exercise also carries the added benefit of stress reduction, which is essential for keeping your RHR steady. I encourage mindful meditation and breathing exercises—or any practice that helps keep you calm and relaxed.
Low-dose DHA does the trick
In addition to consistent exercise, you should also consider adding fish oil to your daily regimen.
In fact, Australian researchers recently found that fish oil can lower RHR by roughly five beats per minute in just eight weeks.
Researchers analyzed the effect of fish oil supplementation on RHR on 20 subjects. The dose they used was low—just 540 mg of DHA daily, which is less than you’ll find in a typical fish oil capsule. But it’s equivalent to eating two servings of fish per week.
(As a reminder, I recommend taking a daily, high-quality fish oil supplement that contains 3,000 mg of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.)
Ultimately, they found that even their modest dose
significantly increased omega-3 levels in the subjects who took it. It also significantly impacted RHR—lowering it by roughly five beats per minute within just two short months.4
Now, I realize a drop of five beats per minute may not sound like a lot. But it’s about the same effect you’ll get from sticking to a regular exercise program. Put the two together, and I honestly can’t think of a better combination for keeping your resting heart rate low… and healthy.
And remember, that effect adds up: We’re talking 300 fewer beats per hour—and 7,200 fewer beats per day.
Kick this sabotaging habit
Now that we’ve discussed two things to add to your daily routine, let’s talk about one habit you should eliminate. It negatively impacts your RHR and ultimately sabotages your health.
I’m talking about smoking. And yes, I mean vaping and other types of e-cigarettes, too.
Because according to a recent study, e-cigarettes that contain nicotine carry many of the same risks as regular cigarettes.
To analyze these effects, researchers focused on a small group of 22 Swedish men and women, all between 18 and 45 years old. Outside of being occasional smokers, all subjects were considered “healthy.”
Researchers found that RHR increased—from 66 bpm, on average, up to 73 bpm—within fifteen minutes of using a nicotine-filled e-cigarette.5 (This was after just 30 puffs.)
These results are strikingly similar to what you would see with regular, nicotine-filled tobacco cigarettes… at least, in the short term. And I think it’s pretty clear that long-term use of any of these addictive products will negatively impact your heart’s health, in more ways than one.
So whether you’re a regular smoker or a “social” smoker… I really do hope that you take these findings to heart (pardon the pun) and vow to kick the habit.
At the end of the day, taking steps to improve your RHR doesn’t have to be a challenge.
In fact, exercising, supplementing with fish oil, and not smoking are crucial to leading a healthy lifestyle in general. And now, research suggests you’ll safeguard your heart, brain, and longevity, to boot.
For additional ways to naturally help keep your heart health, check out my Ultimate Heart-Protection Protocol. To learn more about this innovative, online learning tool—or to enroll today—click here or call 1-866-747-9421 and ask for order code EOV3Y401.
SIDEBAR: Resting Heart Rate at a Glance
A normal resting heart rate falls between 60 and 85 bpm.
You can improve your RHR by:
- Exercising, or engaging in any type of activity that elevates your heart rate, which trains your heart muscle to become stronger. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is especially valuable to heart health.
- Supplementing with a high-quality fish oil that contains 3,000 mg of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.
- Saying “no” to cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and the like.
- Jensen MT, et al. “Elevated resting heart rate, physical fitness and all-cause mortality: a 16-year follow-up in the Copenhagen Male Study.” Heart. 2013 Jun;99(12):882-7. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2012-303375. Epub 2013 Apr 17.
- Imahori Y, et al. “Association of resting heart rate with cognitive decline and dementia in older adults: A population‐based cohort study.” Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 2021; DOI: 10.1002/alz.12495
- Robinson MM, et al. “Enhanced Protein Translation Underlies Improved Metabolic and Physical Adaptations to Different Exercise Training Modes in Young and Old Humans.” Cell Metab. 2017 Mar 7;25(3):581-592.
- Macartney MJ, et al. “DHA-Rich Fish Oil Increases the Omega-3 Index in Healthy Adults and Slows Resting Heart Rate without Altering Cardiac Autonomic Reflex Modulation.” J Am Coll Nutr. 2021 Aug 11;1-9. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2021.1953417. Online ahead of print.
- “E-cigarettes containing nicotine cause blood clotting and make small blood vessels less adaptable.” EurekAlert, 09/05/2021. (https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/927263)