How To Measure Your Resting Heart Rate
Your resting heart rate should be taken first thing in the morning before you get out of bed. Your pulse rate will rise if you do any activityincluding getting up, eating, drinking, or smoking.
To get a true resting heart rate you must be completely still and calm. If something like an alarm startled you awake, lie quietly for a few minutes before you take your pulse.
If you cannot take your pulse immediately after awakening, wait for one to two hours after having any caffeine, exercising, or dealing with an emotional stressor. Lie down or sit quietly for at least 10 minutes before taking your pulse.
To take your pulse, you will need a device that counts seconds, like a clock or watch that has a second hand or displays the seconds. You can also use the stopwatch or clock app on your smartphone.
Increase In Resting Heart Rate Is A Signal Worth Watching
- By Howard E. LeWine, MD, Chief Medical Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
When you sit quietly, your heart slips into the slower, steady pace known as your resting heart rate. An increase in your resting heart rate over time may be a signal of heart trouble ahead.
Your heart rate changes from minute to minute. It depends on whether you are standing up or lying down, moving around or sitting still, stressed or relaxed. Your resting heart rate, though, tends to be stable from day to day. The usual range for resting heart rate is anywhere between 60 and 90 beats per minute. Above 90 is considered high.
Many factors influence your resting heart rate. Genes play a role. Aging tends to speed it up. Regular exercise tends to slow your heart rate down. Stress, medications, and medical conditions also influence your resting heart rate.
Results of observational research studies support a link between health and heart rate. Researchers from Norway previously reported the results of a large study looking at changes in resting heart rate over 10 years. They recruited more than 29,000 people without any history or heart disease, high blood pressure, or any other type of cardiovascular disorder, and measured their resting heart rates when they started the study and again 10 years later. This study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
How to lower your resting heart rate
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.
Read Also: Does Acid Reflux Cause Heart Palpitations
Normal Range How Do You Compare
Resting heart rate normally ranges from 60 100 bpm .
Being normal doesnt mean you are healthy though. For example, with a heart rate of 90 beats per minute, while you may not have a medical condition, you are definitely not fit.
Usually, the better shape youre in the lower your heart rate will be. Basically, you train your heart to work more efficiently by working out. For example, a professional athlete can have a normal resting heart rate as slow as 40 beats per minute .
Its important to know that both high or low heart rate can point to an underlying health issue.
You should consult a healthcare professional if your resting heart rate is consistently above 100 bpm, or if you are not a trained athlete but your heart rate is below 60 bpm. This is especially the case if you are experiencing symptoms such as weakness, shortness of breath, fainting spells, and chest pain.
What Is A Normal Resting Heart Rate
The resting heart rate is the heart pumping the lowest amount of blood when you are not exercising. What is a normal resting heart rate? A normal resting heart rate, when you are calm, relaxed, and healthy, will range between 60 and 100 beats per minute for adults. That being said, a normal heart rate will vary from person to person, and throughout a persons day.
A heart rate lower than 60 beats isnt necessarily a problem. Factors that affect heart rate include drugs like beta-blockers, body position, and anxiety or stressful emotions. A lower heart rate is also common in athletes and those that get lots of physical activity. The heart also pumps a little more and the pulse rate increases when the humidity is high. If youre obese, you may also see a higher resting pulse than normal, but not too much over 100 beats per minute.
It is important to note that an above normal heart rate can be a sign of several problems, and symptoms may include fainting, weakness, chest pain, lightheadedness, low blood pressure, heart pain, and inadequate blood flow in the legs and arms.
For an accurate heart rate reading, simply put your fingers over your pulse and count the number of beats per minute. You could also count the beats in 15 seconds and multiply the number by four. The best places to find your pulse are the wrists, side of your neck, inside of your elbow, and top of the foot.
Also Check: Can Acid Reflux Cause Palpitations
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.
How To Lower Your Heart Rate
Want to know how to lower your heart rate in the moment? A few techniques can help bring your heart rate back to normal right away. For instance, if youre going from sitting to standing, make sure you rise slowly. This is because standing too quickly can make you dizzy and increase your heart rate. Also, make your home and other surroundings cool and comfortable, since high temperatures increase heart rate and blood flow.
There are also other approaches that help reduce heart rate in the short term and long term. Vagal maneuvers are natural treatments that are used to slow a rapid heartbeat by stimulating receptors of the internal carotid arteries . This stimulation causes reflex stimulation of the vagus nerve, which releases the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and slows electrical impulses that lead to rapid heartbeats.
Some of these vagal maneuvers include coughing, bearing down, the Valsalva maneuver, cold stimulus to the face, gagging, and a carotid massage, as well as other natural treatments. The following is some detail on the natural therapies you can try:
Read Also: Can Ibs Cause Heart Palpitations
How To Measure Heart Rate
Measuring your heart rate is easy to do if you follow some simple steps. The easiest place to measure your heart rate is on your wrist, just below the base of the thumb. Place your index and middle fingers between the bone and tendon at the base of your thumb. Once you feel your pulse, count the number of beats you feel in 15 seconds. Once youve counted how many pulses, youll multiply that number by four. This gives you the total amount of times your heart beats in one minute. For example, if your heart beats 18 times in 15 seconds, your heart rate is 72 beats per minute.
Its important to measure your heart rate when youre in a relaxed state. If you take your pulse after any strenuous activity, you wont get an accurate reading. You should wait for one to two hours after exercising to take your resting heart rate, and an hour after consuming caffeine, according to Harvard Health.
How Quickly And By How Much
A recent poster on Researchgate asked, Is it possible to decrease the heart rate by 20 bpm in 6 months The consensus? Yes, through exercise, but you need to be healthy to start, and work super hard.
G. Filligoi of Sapienza University of Rome recommends the relaxation route: You can decrease heart rate by respiration exercises, yoga, meditation. I would suggest some self-consciousness approach in order to reduce the anxiety, nervous stress, and similars.
Not everyone agrees its possible. In my opinion, says Oscar Fabregat-Andrés of MED Hospitales, it is not possible to modulate baseline heart rate in such magnitude, because although exercise is able to regulate autonomic system, vagal tone necessary to reach this rate is not performed in 6 months.
Recommended Reading: Does Tylenol Increase Heart Rate
When Heart Rate Or Rhythm Changes Are Minor
Many changes in heart rate or rhythm are minor and do not require medical treatment if you do not have other symptoms or a history of heart disease. Smoking, drinking alcohol or caffeine, or taking other stimulants such as diet pills or cough and cold medicines may cause your heart to beat faster or skip a beat. Your heart rate or rhythm can change when you are under stress or having pain. Your heart may beat faster when you have an illness or a fever. Hard physical exercise usually increases your heart rate, which can sometimes cause changes in your heart rhythm.
Natural health products, such as goldenseal, oleander, motherwort, or ephedra , may cause irregular heartbeats.
It is not uncommon for pregnant women to have minor heart rate or rhythm changes. These changes usually are not a cause for concern for women who do not have a history of heart disease.
Well-trained athletes usually have slow heart rates with occasional pauses in the normal rhythm. Evaluation is usually not needed unless other symptoms are present, such as light-headedness or fainting , or there is a family history of heart problems.
Whats A Normal Heart Rate
A heart rate is a measurement of the number of times the heart muscle beats per minute. Healthy kids and adults will have hearts that beat at different speeds because of their age and body size. If the heart is beating too fast or too slow, this could mean you have an underlying health problem. Your resting heart rate will also allow you to gauge your current heart health.
In general, a lower resting heart rate means the heart is beating less per minute, which likely means its more efficient. Your resting heart rate tells you how fast your heart is beating when youre in a relaxed state, like sitting or laying down. If your resting heart rate is too high, this might mean you have lower physical fitness, or that youre at risk of developing a heart condition.
Knowing what your target heart rate should be for your age can help you recognize if and when your heart rate is abnormal, which may be an indication that its time to go to the doctor.
|Normal heart rate by age|
|18 and older||60-100 bpm|
As we get older, the range of whats considered to be a healthy normal resting heart rate will change.
The average healthy adult will have a resting heart rate of 60 bpm or higher. Although in clinical practice, the resting heart rate between 60 and 100 bpm is considered to be normal, people with a resting heart rate higher than 80 bpm could have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
RELATED: Heart disease statistics
Recommended Reading: Does Acid Reflux Cause Heart Palpitations
Manage Your Stress Levels
Whether it’s down to your job, home life or personal issues, stress will take its toll on your health. Emmott believes we need to learn to manage it so it doesnt negatively impact our resting heart rate and overall health.
Stress of any kind, physical or emotional does increase heart rate and can have long-term adverse effects on your health, he says.
There is no way to eliminate stress in daily life, but managing it is important to keeping a healthy heart.
In addition to the action points outlined above, he recommends that meditation, social interaction and being in nature can help manage stress levels.
Once again, using a fitness tracker to help assess your stress levels is also a good idea. Knowing your stress level can help you identify stressful moments throughout your day and could help identify triggers of your stress, so you can begin to eliminate and manage stressful situations, Williams says.
For example, if your stress scores were high, it would be a great time to take five minutes away from what you were doing to do some deep breathing. This doesnt have to impact your day, you can do it while boiling the kettle, but breaking the chronic stress cycle is so important for your long-term health and short-term mental wellbeing.
The Bottom Line: Youre Probably Ok But
You’re probably OK, but it’s worth talking to your doctor.
To recap: youre probably fine if your resting heart rate is over 50, or 40 if youre an athlete. Youre also probably fine if you dont feel any of the symptoms of bradycardia, like dizziness, fatigue, sweating, or fainting.
Related: How to Make the World Your Gym
But if youre close to those values and still worried, its worth talking to your doctor and getting a few simple tests, including hematocrit, blood oxygen content, electrolyte levels, heart rate variability, and blood pressure.
If youre a health nut, its easy to obsess over isolated measures like your heart rate. The bottom line is, if your low heart rate is a problem, youll probably be feeling it. If youre exercising regularly and have a low heart rate, but you feel good and every other measure of cardiac health looks good, youre fine.
Read Also: How Accurate Is Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate
Normal Resting Heart Rate
The American Heart Association states that a normal resting heart rate is usually between 60 and 100 beats per minute. However, for athletes and people who are active, this number may dip closer to 40 bpm.
Its also worth noting that the average resting heart rate for women tends to be a bit higher than for men. This is because females typically have slightly smaller hearts, which in turn produce less blood flow with each beat and must pump faster to reach the same output.
Additionally, there is often a slight increase in RHR with age.
How Is Resting Heart Rate Calculated
Measuring your resting heart rate is as easy as checking your pulse, which can be felt on the side of your neck or the underside of your wrist .
While sitting down and once you feel your pulse count the number of beats you feel over the span of 30 seconds . Multiply this number by two to calculate your heart beats per minute.
“To get an accurate representation of your resting heart rate, repeat this process a few times and over the course of a few days,” adds Dr. Chebrolu.
She also advises against checking your heart rate immediately after a stressful event, strenuous activity or consuming caffeine, which can lead to temporary elevation in your heart rate.
Additionally, most wearable fitness trackers and smart watches provide insights into your heart rate. And since these devices collect measurements throughout the day, they’re a simple way to effortlessly monitor your average resting heart rate.
“The heart rate measurements taken by wearable devices may not be as reliable as checking your pulse by hand, but they can help you track general trends and spot changes in your resting heart rate,” says Dr. Chebrolu.
And while some smartwatches now come with an ECG feature that can help monitor for heart rhythm issues, these devices alone cannot detect a life-threatening arrhythmia, such as atrial fibrillation .
Recommended Reading: Does Tylenol Increase Heart Rate
A Lower Resting Heart Rate Over Time
To lower your heart rate more permanently so you can enjoy the effects over a long period of time, there are several measures that you can take that will have a positive impact. The first is to exercise regularly and engage your cardiovascular system through some kind of heart strengthening exercise.
This exercise can be something simple like walking, or yoga, as long as it gets your blood circulating and brings up your heart rate. For the best effect youll want to establish what your maximum heart rate should be, and then determine what your target heart rate during exercise should be based on whether your exercise is light, moderate, or intense.
The second part of this metric is how quickly your heart rate returns to its resting rate after youve exercised. This time will vary greatly from one individual to another, and can largely be due to your age, your level of health, and other conditions that you might have.
By exercising you can improve your resting heart rate over time, and you can also improve the rate at which your heart rate returns to normal after exercising. A study done on 2500 people found that how you recover from exercise can indicate your potential risk for death long term.
If you have any health conditions, its best to discuss with your doctor before you engage in any exercises designed to reduce your existing heart rate. Walking is a safe form of exercise for many individuals, and positive dietary changes are another option as well.
When Should I Go See A Doctor
If youre concerned your low resting heart rate is too low, you should contact your doctor. Mikolasko recommends checking in with a physician if your resting heart rate sits below 60 beats per minute consistently, just to be safe. This is definitely something you can cover with your physician during your annual physical, and they may tell you its nothing to be concerned about, he says. But its certainly better to be safe than sorry.
Remember, these things can also hinge on other situational factors. Its common for well-trained people to feel a bit lightheaded when moving quickly from a squat to stand, according to Roberts. Reaching to the floor or squatting for any length of time? Then you may find you have to stand still for a moment to let the blood reach your brain.
If you experience symptoms such as irregular heart beat, dizziness, lightheadedness, chest pain, blacking out, shortness of breath, or generalized weakness, you should check in with a doctor, STAT.
You May Like: Flonase Heart Rate