My Heart Rate Drops During Workouts


Your heart rate is the rate at which your heart beats. When you exercise, your heart normally beats faster to pump more oxygen and nutrients to your working body. Sometimes, though, your heart rate will decrease during a workout. This can be a cause for concern or not depending on your activities during the workout.


One of the most common reasons for a decreased heart rate may be that you're in great shape. "Athletes are able to pump more blood per heartbeat than someone who is out of shape. The volume of blood pumped is called stroke volume. So as time of exercise increases, an athlete’s heart rate drops as stroke volume increases," says Dr. Michael A. Smith, M.D. This is called heart rate response and it happens often when a person is participating in interval training.

If you aren't an athlete, a drop in heart rate while you are exercising may be caused by myriad other health problems such as lack of hydration; endocrine or nervous system problems; or kidney, heart or liver dysfunction, according to personal trainer Brian Durbin.


For the most part, a drop in heart rate is normal and even a desired response to exercise. It means that your heart is healthy and is processing blood the way it should when you increase the intensity of your workout. If you find that your heart rate is dropping when you aren't increasing intensity, there may be a problem.


If you suspect that your drop in heart rate isn't caused by increasing your exercise intensity, it is a good idea to find out why. "The bottom line is that if you are experiencing a decrease in HR (heart rate) in spite of an increase in exercise intensity, you need to involve your doctor in the problem," says Durbin. "You can work together to answer your specific why."


Until you are able to consult a doctor about your drop in heart rate, it is best to stick with an exercise that doesn't elevate your heart rate, such as walking or yoga. If any exercise elevates your heart rate, canceling your workouts may be the best idea. Call your doctor's office for advice on how to proceed until your appointment.