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.
How Do I Check My Pulse
You can check your heart rate by taking your pulse and counting how many times your heart beats in 1 minute .
Your heart rate varies depending on what you’re doing for example, it will be slower if you’re sleeping and faster if you’re exercising.
To get your resting heart rate, you need to have been sitting still before checking your pulse.
Treatment Of Low Heart Rate
In patients with confirmed or suspected slow heart rate, the underlying possible causes such as those outlined above need to be evaluated carefully. Its especially important to review the medication list carefully and stop any potentially offending agents. Blood tests such as thyroid function studies may be performed.
An EKG is performed to see if there is just a slow heart rate or any evidence of heart block. Sometimes a monitor is worn to see the heart rate over time. Some people with a slow heart rate are unable to get their heart rate up with exercise known as chronotropic incompetence this can be diagnosed with exercise testing. An echocardiogram may be performed to evaluate the heart structure and function.
What we do with a slow heart rate really depends on how bad the symptoms are. Its key to make sure the symptoms are related to the slow heart rate and that possible causes are identified and treated. The main indication for a patient without symptoms to get a pacemaker would be advanced heart block, long pauses in the heartbeat or rhythms that have the potential to lead to instability.
In patients that are symptomatic, and in whom underlying reversible causes have been ruled out, insertion of a pacemaker may be required. The choice of pacemaker for those with a low heart rate is different in different people and depends upon the level of block in the heart.
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Typical Heart Rates During Exercise
During exercise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends aiming for a target heart rate between 64% and 76% of your maximum heart rate for moderate-intensity workouts, and 77% to 93% for high-intensity workouts.
You can estimate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. For example, the maximum heart rate for a 50-year-old would be estimated to be 170 bpm, and 200 bpm for a 20-year-old. This means that the 20-year-old may want to aim for a heart rate between 128 and 152 bpm during a moderate-intensity workout, or between 154 and 186 bpm for a high-intensity workout.
However, there are additional factors to consider when calculating your target heart rate. It is important to consult with a medical professional to determine any potential risks prior to engaging in vigorous exercise.
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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When To See A Doctor
A person should speak to a doctor if they notice their heart rate is slow.
When a baby has a low pulse, a parent or carer should take them to the emergency room.
Adults and children who have a low pulse and experience severe symptoms, such as chest pain or fainting, should also go to the hospital.
A person should see a doctor for bradycardia when:
- they experience an unexplained change in heart rate that lasts for several days
- they have bradycardia and other heart health risk factors, such as diabetes or smoking
- they have heart disease and bradycardia
- they experience bradycardia and other symptoms, such as fainting spells
- they experience episodes of bradycardia and tachycardia
Oura Helped Me Realize That My Heart Was In Trouble
The following is a true story from an Oura user who chose to share their experience.
I wanted to share with you all a success story that I had related to my health. Hopefully, it will help others
I wear the Oura Ring all day and all night and I also wear an Apple Watch. Around March 21 of this year, I started receiving high heart rate alerts from my Apple Watch. I ignored it thinking it was just stress related to all the news of COVID-19. I had my watch go off several times, but I just ignored it. There were several times where I felt my heart racing, but I again just ignored it thinking it was stress/anxiety.
The night of May 5, I could barely sleep because my heart had been beating so quickly. In the morning, I remembered that my Oura Ring tracked my Heart Rate Trends during the night. I pulled up my heart rate in the app and discovered my heart rate had basically been above 120 BPM since March 21.
I had my wife drive me to the emergency room after seeing the data. I was admitted to the hospital and ultimately diagnosed with Atrial Flutter. This is a condition that causes the upper right chamber of your heart to beat at a very high rate. The condition can ultimately cause a stroke as blood pools in the lower chambers of the heart, which can clot and ultimately give you a stroke.
I wanted to thank you for the Oura Ring. It quite literally may have saved my life. I only wished I had checked the data a little sooner, so it did not go on for so long.
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How Does Heart Rate Change During Sleep
In general, heart rate is slower during sleep than when a person is awake. However, heart rate also changes as a sleeper cycles through the different stages of sleep. In the first stages of light sleep, heart rate begins to slow. During deep sleep, the heart rate reaches its lowest levels. In rapid eye movement sleep, heart rate may speed up to a heart rate similar to when you are awake.
Most people experience a more relaxed heart rate during non-rapid eye movement sleep, which helps protect against cardiovascular events. By contrast, REM sleep is often marked by periods of higher activity. While this is considered normal, researchers believe that the surge in activity during REM sleep could explain why already vulnerable people often experience heart attacks and other events in the early morning hours, which is typically spent more in REM sleep.
Sleep problems can have negative impacts on your heart and cardiovascular health, increasing your heart rate and contributing to higher blood pressure. Disorders such as sleep apnea, periodic limb movements, or shift work disorder that interfere with sleep have been linked to a higher chance of developing cardiovascular disease.
Resting Heart Rate During The Night
Nightly average RHR varies widely between individuals. A normal heart rate can range anywhere from 40 to 100 beats per minute and still be considered average. It can also change from day to day, depending on your hydration level, elevation, physical activity, and body temperature. As with many of your bodys signals, its best to compare your RHR with your own baseline. Avoid comparisons to those around you.
When looking at your RHR curve, pay special attention to these three things:
- Your trend: Does your RHR go up, down, or stay level during the night?
- Your lowest point: When is your RHR lowest?
- Your end: Right before you wake up, does your RHR change?
With these questions in mind, here are three patterns you may recognize in the night-time heart rate curves you can see with Oura:
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What Is A Pulse At Rest
Heart rate is a measure of heart function and health. While the average resting heart rate for healthy individuals is between 60 and 80 bpm, obesity, medicines, anxiety, and other circumstances can influence your heart rate. Physical fitness levels are also important. In fact, a professional athletes resting heart rate may be significantly lower than normal, ranging from 40 to 70 beats per minute .
Because their heart muscle is healthy and robust, regular exercisers hearts have to work less to distribute a sufficient quantity of blood throughout the body. For individuals who dont have strong cardiac muscle, their heart has to pump much harder than usual in order to maintain normal blood flow, resulting in a greater than usual heart rate.
The Hammock: Relaxed In Bed And Ready To Rise
The hammock curve shows an ideal heart rate journey. During your initial sleep stages, your body relaxes and your blood pressure and heart rate begin to drop.
In this scenario, your lowest RHR occurs near the midpoint of your sleep, when the amount of melatonin present reaches a peak. If you are perfectly in sync with the suns patterns, your body temperature drops to its lowest level around 4 a.m.
Your RHR may momentarily rise during REM sleep. This is normal and you can ignore these temporary spikes when looking for the hammock curve during your sleep.
As you wake in the morning, your heart rate begins to rise. The hammock curve is a sign that your body was relaxed during the night and is ready to rise after a quality nights sleep.
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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.
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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.
When To Worry About A Low Heart Rate
When a drop in your heart rate is natural and harmless, it doesnt cause any symptoms. But if you also have one of the following symptoms, it could be a sign that something else is going on:
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Palpitations or a sensation of skipped heartbeats
A new difficulty in your ability to exercise or exert yourself
But more concerning bradycardia doesnt always cause symptoms. Even if you dont have any symptoms, its a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider if you have new bradycardia and one of the following conditions:
Age over 50 years old
A history of electrolyte abnormalities
A heart rate below 40 beats per minute
There are some simple and easy tests that your provider can do to figure out if your heart rate is a problem. These can include an electrocardiogram and echocardiogram , or blood tests if your provider suspects a thyroid or electrolyte problem. Your provider may also recommend you wear a small heart monitor for a few days, which can monitor your heart beat 24/7.
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Ii Sleep And Cardiovascular Disease
Sleep and sleep disorders both play a role in cardiovascular disease . The exact role that they play is still not quite clear. One thing that is certain is that there is a higher risk of sudden cardiac death in the first few hours after you wake up. This may be due to the amount of work your heart has to do when your body gets up and moving again. CVD is a leading cause of death in the U.S. It takes the life of nearly 2,600 Americans every day.
Common forms of CVD include the following:
- High blood pressure
- Congenital heart defects
People with obstructive sleep apnea have been shown to have higher rates of coronary heart disease and strokes. People who have had a heart attack are more likely to have OSA than those without heart disease. It can be even harder for someone to fully recover from a heart attack if their OSA is not treated.
OSA is a sleep disorder that occurs when the tissue in the back of the throat blocks the airway. This is very common, because the muscles inside the throat relax as you sleep. You stop breathing, keeping the oxygen you need from getting to the lungs. When you stop breathing, your body wakes up. It happens so quickly, you arent even aware of it. You can stop breathing hundreds of times in one night. Being treated for OSA reduces your risk of death due to CVD.
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What Is A Normal Sleeping Heart Rate
Dr. Abhinav Singh, Sleep Physician
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We regularly assess how the content in this article aligns with current scientific literature and expert recommendations in order to provide the most up-to-date research.
Your heart rate fluctuates throughout the day, based on activity levels and emotions. Stress and exercise can raise heart rate, while sleeping can lower it. A normal heart rate while sleeping is often between 40 to 50 beats per minute , though there is variability between individuals.
We discuss what is considered a normal sleeping heart rate for each age range, as well as share signs to look out for that may indicate an underlying condition.
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Tips For Improved Sleep
When youre sound asleep, your body is wide awake. Welcome its feedback, listen closely to what it has to say, and take steps towards optimizing your sleep.
Use the following tips to help boost your sleep routine:
- Try to wake up at the same time seven days a week.
- Time your meals mindfully late meals may show up as the Downward Slope.
- If your sleep pattern is optimal , take notes. Think about what you did the previous day and continue to make similar choices.
Read More About What Your Sleeping Heart Rate Can Tell You:
Reality Check: It Matters Why Your Heart Rate Is Low
As mentioned earlier, a slower heart rate generally means that fewer nutrients and less oxygen are being delivered throughout your body. At least, all other factors being equal, thats what it would meanbut all other factors are never really equal.
In order to know how well your blood is delivering nutrients throughout your body, you need to know several things. First, you need your heart rate, obviously. Second, you need to know your stroke volumehow much blood gets pumped through your heart per heartbeat. A higher stroke volume means that high blood flow can be maintained at a relatively low heart rate. Unfortunately, stroke volume is difficult to measure non-invasively, so it isnt typically measured in routine check-ups unless the patient has heart disease.
Third, you want to know how many red blood cells you have. The technical term for this is hematocritthe percentage of your blood volume that consists of red blood cells. A typical hematocrit level is 47 percent plus or minus 5 percent for men and 42 percent plus or minus 5 percent for women. A lower hematocrit would mean that your heart would need to pump more blood to oxygenate the body. A high hematocrit would mean that you can safely live with a lower heart rate, but it would also mean that your blood is getting excessively thick, which can cause problems of its own.
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Should You Be Concerned About A Low Resting Heart Rate
Sure, your heart speeds up when you watch an action movie or watch your child do a dangerous move in gymnastics.
But if your heart is a slowpoke the rest of the time, your health could be at risk.
Cardiologists consider a pulse rate of between 60 and 100 beats per minute to be normal, and over the course of adulthood, our resting heart rate usually manage to be pretty consistent.
The vast majority of U.S. adults fall into the normal range. In a 2011 study of a decades worth of heart-rate data from 49,000 American adults, the average RHR was 72 beats per minute.
But some of the RHRs studied were, well, slow. About 15 percent of the men and 6.9 percent of the women had an abnormally low RHR of fewer than 60 beats per minute a phenomenon known as bradycardia.
Researchers are still trying to disentangle the many factors that may cause the condition. One thats key is the autonomic nervous system, the control center that keeps our internal organs humming so we dont have to initiate every breath or beat.
That system has two parts: the sympathetic nervous system, which responds to perceived threats and speeds things up internally, and the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms our processes down.
A large percentage of endurance athletes have RHRs as low as 40 beats per minute, and even lower when they sleep.
That doesnt let the rest of us off the hook, however.