A rapid heart rate can indicate a health problem. Ways of lowering the heart rate include breathing and relaxation techniques, exercise, vagal maneuvers, dietary choices, and stress management.

A person’s heart rate, or pulse rate, refers to how many times the heart beats within a minute. A typical resting heart rate for adults is 60–100 beats per minute (bpm).

However, some people may have a resting heart rate over 100 bpm, which is known as tachycardia. This may indicate an underlying health condition, such as an arrhythmia.

This article looks at different causes for a high pulse rate, ways to lower it, and how to calculate the ideal target range.

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Several factors may increase a person’s heart rate, including:

If a person is experiencing an elevated heart rate, there are certain things they can try to help bring it down.


The most effective way to achieve a lasting lower heart rate is to do regular exercise.

A 2018 meta-analysis found that regular exercise could consistently lower resting heart rate. Although any kind of exercise can be helpful, the authors suggest that yoga and endurance training may be the most beneficial.

Staying hydrated

When the body is dehydrated, the amount of blood flowing through the body is reduced, so the heart has to work harder to stabilize blood flow.

A 2017 study found that a 335-milliliter drink of water could reduce resting heart rate over a 30-minute period. This decline continued for another 30 minutes.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that females consume 11.5 cups, or 2.7 liters (L), of water per day, while males should consume 15.5 cups (3.7 L).

This includes water found in food and other beverages, too.

Limiting intake of stimulants

Stimulants can cause dehydration, increasing the heart’s workload.

For example, high doses of caffeine can lead to dehydration. However, there is no reliable scientific evidence that typical tea or coffee consumption can cause an increased resting heart rate through dehydration.

Limiting alcohol intake

Drinking alcohol may increase a person’s risk of developing some health conditions, such as:

Research that experts presented at the European Heart Rhythm Association 2018 Congress showed that a higher breath alcohol concentration was associated with increases in heart rate.

This could be due to alcohol creating an imbalance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the autonomic nervous system.

The body activates the sympathetic system in the fight or flight response. It activates the parasympathetic system in the rest and digest response.

Eating a nutritious, balanced diet

Research on the effects of diet on heart rate is limited.

A 2003 study of nearly 9,800 males found that those who ate fish had a lower heart rate than those who did not. That said, a wide variety of foods may promote good heart health, including:

Vagal maneuvers

Vagal maneuvers are techniques that can help lower a person’s heart rate. They target the vagus nerve, which has a key function in the parasympathetic nervous system.

Three common types of vagal maneuvers include:

Other less common maneuvers include:

  • ocular pressure
  • gag reflex stimulation
  • applied abdominal pressure
  • headstands

It is important that a person speaks with a doctor before trying any vagal maneuvers.

Getting enough sleep

A chronic lack of sleep puts stress on the whole body, including the heart. A 2020 study found that deviating from their usual bedtimes increased people’s resting heart rates.

Maintaining a healthy body weight

Extra weight puts stress on the body and heart, which could lead to an increased heart rate.

A 2019 article suggests that an increase in body mass index (BMI) is associated with an increased resting heart rate.

Similarly, a 2020 study of 60 people ages 18-45 found that those with obesity had higher resting heart rates than those who did not have obesity.

Reducing stress

Stress may cause the heart and body to work harder to maintain its usual rhythm. A 2021 study of 69 people found that higher exposure to stressful life events may increase people’s heart rates.

Seeking counseling or psychological service

People cannot always resolve stressful situations and life events on their own.

Traumatic experiences, grief, and certain mental health conditions stress the body, which can sometimes make it harder for people to perform everyday activities. In these cases, counseling and therapy may be helpful.

Getting outdoors

Some techniques for lowering the heart rate involve changing environments.

For example, in a 2013 review, a decrease in heart rate measurements was associated with exposure to forest environments. This suggests that these natural spaces may have stress-reducing properties.

Practicing relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques may also have a positive effect on stress.

A 2021 study found that while people were meditating, their heart rate decreased and stabilized to a normal rhythm.

A person can calculate their maximum heart rate by subtracting their age in years from 220. A healthy heart rate range is usually 50–70% of this maximum during moderate exercise.

During strenuous activity, the healthy range will be 70–85% of the maximum heart rate.

Average heart rate ranges during activity are:

Age in yearsTarget heart rateAverage maximum heart rate
20100–170 bpm200 bpm
3095–162 bpm190 bpm
4093–157 bpm185 bpm
4590–153 bpm175 bpm
5088–149 bpm170 bpm
5585–145 bpm165 bpm
6083–140 bpm160 bpm
6580–136 bpm155 bpm
7075–128 bpm150 bpm

An easy way to check the pulse is by placing the index and middle finger on the wrist and counting how many heartbeats occur within 60 seconds. This is known as the radial pulse.

It is best to measure the pulse after periods of rest. For this reason, a person should ideally count their heartbeats first thing in the morning before getting out of bed.

An elevated heart rate is typically a natural physical response to environmental or other stressors. However, a high resting heart rate for long periods can signal an underlying medical condition.

If someone’s average heart rate is unusually high because of an underlying health condition, medical interventions such as beta-blockers may be necessary.

Doctors may prescribe beta-blockers to treat a variety of conditions, such as:

  • high blood pressure
  • coronary artery disease
  • glaucoma
  • congestive heart failure
  • arrhythmias

A person should speak with a doctor if:

A doctor may perform a physical examination and evaluate the thyroid, as well as check electrolyte levels and blood counts. They may also do other tests, such as an electrocardiogram (EKG).

Below are some frequently asked questions about resting heart rate.

Why is my resting heart rate so high?

An increased resting heart rate may be associated with electrical or structural abnormalities in the heart, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Certain conditions may increase a person’s heart rate, such as asthma, sleep apnea, infection, coronary artery disease, and more. A doctor can help determine the underlying cause and advise on suitable treatments.

What is considered a dangerously high heart rate?

A normal resting heart rate is between 60–100 beats per minute (bpm) for adults. People with persistently higher heart rates than this are at a greater risk of certain health conditions, including heart failure, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

How can I quickly lower my heart rate?

Most techniques for lowering heart rate, such as managing stress and avoiding alcohol, help to lower heart rate over time. If a person needs to lower their heart rate quickly, then practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation may help.

Is 90 a good resting heart rate?

A typical resting heart rate is between 60–100 bpm for adults. As a resting heart rate of 90 bpm is within range, medical professionals typically consider this to be a reasonable resting heart rate for most adults.

Changes in heart rate happen naturally throughout the day. A resting heart rate is a sign of the heart’s health.

A consistently high heart rate may indicate health issues and could lead to adverse outcomes.

However, many people can lower their resting heart rate through lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.