Discover What Your Wrist Says About Your Heart Health

There’s a straightforward way to gauge your heart health without needing an expensive stress test at the doctor’s office. By keeping track of how your average resting heart rate, or resting pulse, changes over time, you may be able to spot potential difficulties with your heart and get an advanced warning that trouble is ahead.

Monitoring Your Resting Heart Rate

Start by sitting quietly for a few minutes and allowing your heart to beat steadily as you relax. Then put a finger to the veins on your wrist, count the heartbeats for 15 seconds and multiply by four to see what your pulse per minute is.

How Heart Rate Relates to Heart Health

A study at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that people who experienced an increase in their resting heart rate during an initial 10-year period had a significantly larger risk of death from all causes and from ischemic heart disease during the 23 years of the study. The researchers discovered that those whose resting pulse rate during the first 10 years went from less than 70 beats per minute to more than 85 beats per minute suffered a 90 percent increase of dying from ischemic heart disease, compared to people whose measurement stayed below 70 beats a minute. Similarly, people with a resting heart rate that went from between 70 and 85 beats per minute at the beginning of the study to greater than 85 per minute had their risk grow by 80 percent.

Maintaining A Healthy Heart Rate Through Exercise

These changes in pulse aren’t just the luck of the draw. If you stay physically fit with a steady dose of aerobic exercise, your resting pulse should stay reduced. Therefore, this study serves as a reminder that heart health – and longevity – is an individual responsibility.

For most individuals, a resting heart rate of around 44 is ideal. Ideally, your resting heart rate should not change significantly over time, even as you age. Exercise is incredibly important to maintain and potentially lower your resting heart rate. For example, 20 easy minutes of jogging a day, plus some interval training (sprints) on the weekends, can have lasting positive effects on your heart health.

Choosing the Right Exercise for You

But you don’t have to be an obsessive athlete to help your heart stay strong. You just have to find an exercise you love and do it a little bit, just three or even four times a week. There are numerous exercises that you can choose from to maintain a healthy heart rate:

  1. Walking: A simple, low-impact exercise that’s easy to incorporate into your daily routine. Regular walking can strengthen your heart and improve circulation.

  2. Cycling: Can be either outdoor or indoor through stationary bikes, and is impactful for enhancing cardiovascular health and improving blood circulation.

  3. Swimming: Known to be beneficial for heart health as it works both the upper and lower body while engaging the cardiovascular system.

  4. Dancing: An enjoyable form of exercise that improves cardiovascular health, balance, and flexibility.

  5. Yoga: Combines physical activity with relaxation and mindfulness techniques, which can help reduce stress and improve heart health.

  6. Strength Training: Using weights or resistance bands can help build muscle, strengthen bones, and improve heart health.

  7. Jump Rope: A high-intensity cardiovascular exercise that also helps improve agility, endurance, and overall fitness.

Remember to consult with your healthcare professional before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions or are not accustomed to regular physical activity.

Check Your Heart Health Regularly

As the study shows, a simple check of your resting heart rate over time can provide valuable insight into your cardiovascular health. So, make it a habit to regularly monitor your resting heart rate, and couple it with a consistent exercise routine to achieve optimal heart health and longevity. In doing so, you take individual responsibility for your heart health, working towards a stronger, healthier heart as you age.