Even if you’re a master at hiding bad habits (read: skimping on sleep or overdoing it when it comes to booze), your resting heart rate (RHR) can give you away. The number, which you can check with a smartwatch or heart rate strap, is a key metric for high performers. Matt Delaney, director of programming and innovation at Equinox, noticed via his Apple Watch that his RHR was consistently elevated at around 55 beats per minute (bpm). While anything within the 40 to 60 range is typical for the healthy and fit, this number was “noticeably high” for Delaney, whose RHR is usually in the low-40s. “Seeing this rise forced me to look at the lifestyle considerations that were driving it up,” he says. Your heart’s main job is to pump blood through your body, so the goal is to make each beat efficient. After you drink caffeine or alcohol, as you digest, or while you walk up a flight of stairs, your RHR will naturally spike. But a lasting rise could be a sign that you’re skimping on recovery or adopting bad habits. Thankfully, your heart can respond quickly to positive changes that make it more efficient and less stressed. Delaney identified a few areas of opportunity and implemented three basic behavioral tweaks related to alcohol intake, cardio, and time-restricted eating to bring his RHR back to normal. After one month, his number dropped back down to 43 bpm. Because RHR is such a strong marker for health, we challenge you to bring your number down. To do it, check the heart rate data on your smartwatch, tracker, or strap at the same time every day for one week to find out your average. Do this when you’re at rest, like right when you wake up or when you’re at your desk. Then implement one or two of the below challenges, keeping tabs on your RHR.
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