Your Resting Heart Rate Can Reflect Your Current And Future Health
- By Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men’s Health Watch
One of the easiest, and maybe most effective, ways to gauge your health can be done in 30 seconds with two fingers.;Measuring your resting heart rate; the number of heart beats per minute while youre at rest is a real-time snapshot of how your heart muscle is functioning.
Its easy to do. Place your index and middle finger on your wrist just below the thumb, or along either side of your neck, so you can feel your pulse. Use a watch to count the number of beats for 30 seconds and double it to get your beats per minute. Repeat a few times to ensure an accurate reading. While a heart rate is considered normal if the rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute, most healthy relaxed adults have a resting heart rate below 90 beats per minute.
The Value Of Checking Your Exercise Heart Rate And Your Recovery Heart Rate
Your heart rate during exercise will help you determine whether youre reaching your fitness goals. If youre training in the cardiovascular zone, your heart rate should be between 50% and 85% of your maximum heart rate.
Although the formula isnt completely accurate, you can estimate your resting heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. If youre 50, for example, your maximum resting heart rate would be 170. So, if youre within 50 to 85% of this value, youre training at high enough intensity to get cardiovascular benefits.
What you might not realize is your heart rate rises even before you begin a workout in anticipation of the work to follow. In fact, research suggests that a sharp rise in heart rate in anticipation of exercise might signify a greater risk of death. An increase of greater than 12 beats per minute from the resting rate) just before exercise began was linked with double the risk of dying a heart-related death in males relative to those who experienced less than a 4 beat-per-minute rise in heart rate.
Why might this be? A big change in heart rate in anticipation of exercise may indicate an imbalance with the autonomic, or automatic, nervous system that regulates how the heart responds to stress.
What Are The Different Training Zones
A heart rate training zone is a range that defines the intensity of your training. The upper and lower boundaries of each zone are calculated using your maximum heart rate which also depends on your age.
Moderate Activity : 50-60% of HRmax. This is the most comfortable training zone. It is primarily used to warm-up and to recover after a more intense zone. It strengthens your heart and improves muscle mass while it reduces body fat, cholesterol, blood pressure, and your risk for degenerative disease.
Weight Control : 60-70% of HRmax. This is the best zone for burning fat. It gives you all the benefits of the moderate activity zone but with increased intensity. 85% of calories burned in this zone are from fat.
Aerobic : 70-80% of HRmax. Aerobic exercise makes your lungs work harder as your bodys need for oxygen increases. This zone improves your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. It also increases the size and strength of your heart. More calories are burned in this zone but only 50% of the calories come from fat.
Anaerobic : 80-90% of HRmax. Training in this zone improves your athletic performance. Only 15% of the calories burned in this zone come from fat.
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Exercise And Your Pulse
If you check your pulse;during or immediately after exercise, it may give an indication of your fitness level. A heart rate monitor is also useful for recording your heart rate when resting and during exercise.
Aerobic activities such as walking, running and swimming are good types of exercise because they increase your heart and breathing rates.
If you haven’t exercised before, or haven’t for some time, see our Live Well section to read about the;benefits of exercise and;how much exercise you should be doing.
What Your Heart Rate Can And Cant Tell You About Your Health
Before the rise in popularity of fitness trackers and smartwatches, cardiologist Sadiya Khan said patients rarely came in with questions about why their heart rates seemed high or low. But the growing interest in wearable devices, which some early research suggests can even detect coronavirus symptoms, means many people have a trove of real-time health information at their fingertips.
I see a lot more people asking about heart rate because you can track it, you can monitor it, you can make pretty graphs on your Apple Watch, said Khan, an assistant professor of medicine at Northwestern Universitys Feinberg School of Medicine.
But while your heart rate can be a key indicator of your health, Khan and other experts emphasized that it is just one piece of the puzzle.
Its a place to start, said Seth Martin, a cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins. If thats your entry into thinking about ones health, then thats great. But your heart rate cant tell you everything you need to know about your health, he added, and it is important not to fixate on that one measure.
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When To See A Doctor
A consistently low heart rate is called bradycardia. In healthy young adults or trained athletes, a low heart rate with no other symptoms is usually the sign of a very healthy heart muscle.
However, a low heart rate can be a sign of a serious underlying problem. If your heart rate is lower than 60 bpm and youre experiencing chest pain, call 911. If youre experiencing dizziness, weakness, fainting, or other concerning symptoms, call a doctor.
A consistently high heart rate is known as tachycardia. Its normal to have an elevated heart rate when youre exercising, stressed, anxious, sick, or have consumed caffeine.
Its not normal to have a heart rate over 100 bpm when youre resting, especially if youre also experiencing:
Target Heart Rates Chart
What should your heart rate be when working out, and how can you keep track of it? Our simple chart will help keep you in the target training zone, whether you want to lose weight or just maximize your workout. Find out what normal resting and maximum heart rates are for your age and how exercise intensity and other factors affect heart rate.
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Are Fitbits Accurate For Heart Rate
A study on consumer wearable heart rate measurement showed that the Apple Watch 3 and Fitbit Charge 2 were generally highly accurate across the 24-hour condition. Specifically, the Apple Watch 3 had a mean difference of 1.80 beats per minute , a mean absolute error percent of 5.86%, and a mean agreement of 95% when compared with the ECG across 24 hours.;
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What Your Heart Rate Is Telling You
Your pulse, both at rest and during exercise, can reveal your risk for heart attack and your aerobic capacity.
Your grandmother may have referred to your heart as “your ticker,” but that nickname has proved to be a misnomer. A healthy heart doesn’t beat with the regularity of clockwork. It speeds up and slows down to accommodate your changing need for oxygen as your activities vary throughout the day. What is a “normal” heart rate varies from person to person. However, an unusually high resting heart rate or low maximum heart rate may signify an increased risk of heart attack and death.
One simple thing people can do is to check their resting heart rate. It’s a fairly easy to do and having the information can help down the road. It’s a good idea to take your pulse occasionally to get a sense of what’s normal for you and to identify unusual changes in rate or regularity that may warrant medical attention.
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Resting Heart Rate And Its Role In Running
Resting heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute while you are at complete rest. A healthy resting heart rate for adults is 60 to 80 beats per minute. Your resting heart rate is an indicator of your physical fitness. As your fitness levels increase, your resting heart rate will lower. Aerobic activities such as running and cycling have a significant effect in lowering your resting heart rate. As your heart becomes stronger, it gets better at pumping more blood and the body requires fewer heartbeats to pump the same amount of blood. In this video, coach Anubhav Karmarkar explains the role of resting heart rate in runners, causes of increased heart rate and how to calculate your resting heart rate to monitor and track your progress in your running journey.;
How To Measure Your Resting Heart Rate
Originally published August 4, 2016 1:39 pm, updated April 16, 2020
The general rule for resting heart rate is: the lower the better. But, how to know how low or high your resting heart rate is? Heres how you can prepare for measuring your resting heart rate and how to do it in five steps.
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What Is Heart Rate
Heart rate is the number of times your heart beats in a minute, typically expressed in beats per minute . Your heart rate increases or decreases based on your body’s need to absorb oxygen. Your heart rate when sleeping is typically lower than when walking or running. Emotional changes can also increase your heart rate.
The heart rate is used by medical professionals to help in the diagnosis of medical conditions. It is also used by individuals who want to gain maximum efficiency from their training and monitor their fitness level.
Stay Informed And Monitor Your Health
Resting heart rate is a measure of the number of times your heart muscle beats every minute. Its a good indicator of overall heart health and can be a useful tool for athletes and people who are trying to get in shape. Knowing your resting heart rate and target heart rate range can help you stay fit, get the most out of your exercise program and protect your healthy heart. It can also help you boost exercise intensity so you can target a fat-burning zone and build cardiovascular strength.
If your normal heart rate is too low or high, talk to a doctor and get medical advice. These numbers may be a sign of cardiovascular disease or another underlying health condition.
If youre interested in more health topics, weve got you covered. Check out our blog;for more information on important health metrics from oxygen saturation level;to sleep tips;and more. Its a great way to stay informed and learn new ways to monitor and manage your health.
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Learn What Is A Normal Heart Rate And How To Find Your Pulse With Your Fingers Or A Device
Measuring your heart rate is any easy way to gauge your health, as it provides a real-time snapshot of your heart muscle function. For most adults, a normal resting heart ratethe number of heartbeats per minute while at restranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute. A normal heart rate can vary from person to person. However, an unusually high or low resting heart rate can be a sign of trouble.
Know Your Numbers: Maximum And Target Heart Rate By Age
This table shows target heart rate zones for different ages. Your maximum heart rate is about 220 minus your age.3
In the age category closest to yours, read across to find your target heart rates. Target heart rate during moderate intensity activities is about 50-70% of maximum heart rate, while during vigorous physical activity its about 70-85% of maximum.
The figures are averages, so use them as a general guide.
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Resting Heart Rate As A Marker Of Heart Health
Your resting heart rate may say something about the health of your heart. Some studies show that a lower resting heart rate is linked with a healthier heart. ;A study of 130,000 post-menopausal women found those who had faster heart rates at rest were more likely to have a heart-related health event, like a heart attack than those with lower resting heart rates. People who arent as physically fit also have faster-resting heart rates because their heart doesnt beat as efficiently.
Most adults have a resting heart rate between 60 and 90 beats per minute, but athletes and people who exercise hard may have a resting heart rate in the 50s or even 40s. However, a heart rate in the 40s may also be a sign of heart conduction problems, so its a good idea to see a physician. Likewise, you should let your physician know if your resting heart rate is often above 100 beats per minute. This could be a sign of other health problems too, like an overactive thyroid gland.
How To Check Your Heart Rate At Home
Whenever a medical professional wants to quickly assess your heart health, they might check your heart rate. Heart rate is a measure of how many times your heart is beating per minute.
A normal resting heart rate, or a heart rate when a person is inactive, can range from 60 to 100 beats per minute . However, some medical experts believe the healthiest range is around 50 to 70 BPM.
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Why Measure Your Rhr
Whereas your FTP;is a good indicator of your work,;resting heart rate can be a very good indicator of recovery. The proper combination of work;and recovery is necessary for continued improvement in your performance.;The goal is to fit in as much work as possible without accumulating excessive fatigue.
If you;havent put in enough work, youre simply not going to be fast enough. But, if you;havent recovered enough, you could be headed for a whole host of problems. A lack of proper recovery leads to fatigue, which holds you back from the benefits of;your training. Worst of all, excessive fatigue;often leaves you prone to illnesses that can derail your training.
What Affects Heart Rate
Many biological factors can affect your heart rate including your age, body size and current body position. If you have a fever or slept poorly, you might notice a higher heart rate.
Your fitness level is another factor to consider. People who are more active may have lower resting heart rates. An athletes resting heart rate might even go below 50 BPM.
Psychological factors, such as your emotional state, can also influence your BPM. If youre feeling stressed out, youll notice your heart rate increase.
Smoking will also increase your heart rate. And thats just one of many ways smoking can have a negative effect on your overall health.
Some medications can influence how fast your heart beats. Substances with caffeine, including coffee and tea, can elevate your heart rate as well.
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How To Prep For Measuring Your Resting Heart Rate
When you make the baseline measurements for your resting heart rate, dont do any strenuous training leading up to the measurement and make sure youre fully recovered from any activity.
Its best to measure your resting heart rate in the morning, right after you wake up. You can do it the old-fashioned way with a timer and a finger on your pulse, but for an accurate and easy way, consider using a heart rate monitor.
Before you go to bed, make sure you have your heart rate monitor handy.
When you wake up, its OK to go to the bathroom before the measurement if it helps you to relax. Clear away all distractions, like music, and do not speak or be spoken to during the measurement.
Its best to measure your resting heart rate in the morning, right after you wake up.
You should do the measurement more than once, preferably on consecutive mornings so that you get a baseline for your resting heart rate.
How Do I Take My Heart Rate
There are a few places on your body where itâs easier to take your pulse:
- The insides of your wrists
- The insides of your elbows
- The sides of your neck
- The tops of your feet
Put the tips of your index and middle fingers on your skin. Press lightly until you feel the blood pulsing beneath your fingers. You may need to move your fingers around until you feel it.
Count the beats you feel for 10 seconds. Multiply this number by six to get your heart rate per minute
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How To Measure Your Heart Rate
Measuring your heart rate is the same as checking your pulse. The easiest, most common places to find your pulse or someone else’s pulse is at the wrist or the side of the neck.
- To measure pulse from the wrist, press your index and middle fingers on the inside of the wrist, right below the base of the thumb.
- To measure pulse from the neck, press your fingers on the neck to the side of the windpipe.
When you feel your pulse, take a few moments to take note of its strength and rhythm. When ready, count the beats you feel for 60 seconds. Alternatively, you can measure the pulse for 30 seconds and double the number to get the beats per minute. Learn more about how to check your heart rate.;
If you prefer a more tech-inclined method, there are many fitness trackers and dedicated heart rate monitors that not only can track your heart rate automatically, but also help you set specific goals.