While regularly giving your heart a workout helps it work more efficiently, working your heart too hard can be dangerous and can result in chest pain, lightheadedness, shortness of breath and even heart palpitations, according to the American Heart Association. Monitoring your heart rate can tell you if and when your beat is beating too quickly so that if you're working out and heart rate is too fast, you can slow down the intensity to help slow your heart rate as well.
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Monitoring Your Heart Rate
Knowing your danger zone for a fast heart rate can help you keep tabs on your pulse to judge if it's going too fast. The American Council on Exercise recommends finding your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Your max is the highest heart rate you should achieve. Even moderate to intense exercise is only 70 to 85 percent of that maximum. By wearing a heart rate monitor and checking your rate frequently, you'll know when it's time to pull back and take a break to avoid problems.
One of the easiest ways to slow your heart rate is to slow your body. If you're exercising at a fast pace, simply slowing down can help you catch your breath and avoid problems, notes the AHA. Reducing the intensity at which you exercise can also help slow a fast heart rate; if you're doing aerobics, for example, you could limit arm movements or modify the movements so they're lower impact. Lifting less weight can also help taper a quick heart rate.
As you exercise, you take in oxygen. When your breathing is labored or you're short of breath, you may not be giving your heart the oxygen it needs to work efficiently, which then results in a quicker, less-efficient pulse as your blood struggles to pump blood to your working organs and muscles. In this case, breathing exercises can help slow your heart rate and return it to a more manageable pace. Try belly breathing, where you breathe so deeply that your belly fills with air. You can also try counting breaths by breathing in for five counts and out for five counts to ensure your body gets the oxygen it needs.
A study published in a 2008 issue of the "Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology" found that when male cyclists took 8 grams of fish oil per day for eight weeks, their heart rate as well as their oxygen consumption during exercise was lower. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which contribute to heart health. Taking a fish oil supplement could help slow your heart rate if it's something you struggle with regularly, so talk to your doctor about adding it to your routine.