Your Maximum Heart Rate
The rate at which your heart is beating when it is working its hardest to meet your body’s oxygen needs is your maximum heart rate. Your maximum heart rate plays a major role in setting your aerobic capacitythe amount of oxygen you are able to consume. Several large observational studies have indicated that a high aerobic capacity is associated with a lower risk of heart attack and death. And a small controlled trial demonstrated that men and women with mild cognitive impairment who raised their aerobic capacity also improved their performance on tests of memory and reasoning.
How To Find Your Target Heart Rate
First, it helps to know your resting heart rate, Martin says. Find your pulse . Then count the number of beats in a minutethats your resting heart rate. The average resting heart rate is between 60 and 100, he says. The more fit you are, the lower your resting heart rate for very fit people, its in the range of 40 to 50 beats per minute.
Target heart rate is generally expressed as a percentage of your maximum safe heart rate. The maximum rate is based on your age, as subtracted from 220. So for a 50-year-old, maximum heart rate is 220 minus 50, or 170 beats per minute. At a 50 percent exertion level, your target would be 50 percent of that maximum, or 85 beats per minute. At an 85 percent level of exertion, your target would be 145 beats per minute. Therefore, the target heart rate that a 50-year-old would want to aim for during exercise is 85 to 145 beats per minute.
But theres an easier way to figure it out if you want to skip the math: Wear a fitness tracking device, or exercise on a treadmill or other machine that calculates target heart rate for you, Blaha suggests.
You May Be Feeling Seasonal Changes
As the seasons change and temperatures fluctuate, you may see a change in your resting heart rate. During the warm summer months, the body needs to work harder to keep your skin cool and maintain your internal temperature. As temperatures and humidity levels increase, you lose more fluid, resulting in a drop in blood pressure and an increased heart rate. Staying hydrated is key to maintaining a healthy heart rate in hot weather.
The same is true in cold winter weather according to the British Heart Foundation. Chilly temps put a strain on the heart to work harder to circulate blood through the constricted blood vessels, resulting in an increased heart rate.
Read Also: Can Dehydration Cause Angina
What Is Your Pulse
When your heart beats it pushes blood around your body. This heart beat can be felt as your ‘pulse’ on your wrist or neck.
Your pulse is measured by counting the number of times your heart beats in one minute. For example, if your heart contracts 72 times in one minute, your pulse would be 72 beats per minute . This is also called your heart rate.
A normal pulse beats in a steady, regular rhythm. However, in some people this rhythm is uneven, or ‘jumps about’. This is known as an irregular pulse.
Your Heart Disease Risk
A study in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases shows a strong correlation between elevated heart rate and incidence of heart disease and heart attacks. According to the American Heart Association, having a lower resting heart rate is a sign of better heart health and lower heart risk. Checking your heart rate in the morning to ensure it doesnt escalate above the normal range of 60 to 100 beats per minute is advised.
Recommended Reading: Acetaminophen Raise Blood Pressure
How To Lower Your Resting Heart Rate
Many factors can affect External Siteyour resting heart rate, including your age, stress or anxiety, illness, fitness and activity levels, chronic conditions like high cholesterol or diabetes, hormones, and certain medications like some antidepressants and blood pressure drugs. However, there are several reliable ways to lower your resting heart rate if youre concerned about it:
Things Your Resting Heart Rate Can Tell You
Youre Not Active EnoughA normal resting heart rate for the average adult is 60 to 100 beats per minute or 40 to 60 bpm for highly conditioned athletes.If youre sedentary most of the day, your RHR likely approaches or exceeds the top end of this range. This may be because your heart is less efficient. The good news? By regularly engaging in moderate to vigorous aerobic activities , you will help your heart become more efficient at pumping blood, plus you might shed a few pounds, all of which will lower your resting heart rate over time. Even modest reductions in resting heart rate can dramatically reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and add years to your life!
Youre OvertrainingWhile pushing your body can lead to great gains, it can also be detrimental. If you notice an increase in your resting heart rate when youre going heavy on the training and light on the rest, your body may be telling you that you need to scale back. By giving it the proper rest it needs, your body can repair and adapt and you may bounce back stronger than ever.
Youre Sleep DeprivedAlways exhausted? Chronic sleep deprivationwhich can lead to fatigue, a lower metabolism, and extra snackingcan also raise your resting heart rate. Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
Also Check: Can Tylenol Cause Heart Attack
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 Are Heart Palpitations
A heart palpitation is when you suddenly become aware of your heart beating, usually in an irregular way. Sometimes you can feel it in your ears or your chest when youre lying down. Your heart beat may feel:
- too fast or slow
- like its fluttering
- like its thudding, or pounding.
It is not unusual to feel heart palpitations occasionally and mostly they are harmless. However if youre experiencing them on a regular basis, see your doctor.
Recommended Reading: What Causes Left Ventricular Diastolic Dysfunction
Maintaining A Normal Heart Rate
A healthy heartbeat is crucial for protecting cardiac health.
While exercise is important for promoting a low and healthy heart rate, there are several other steps a person can take to protect their heart health, including:
- Reducing stress: Stress can contribute to an increased heart rate and blood pressure. Ways to keep stress at bay include deep breathing, yoga, mindfulness training, and meditation.
- Avoiding tobacco: Smoking leads to a higher heart rate, and quitting can reduce it to a normal level.
- Losing weight: More body weight means that the heart has to work harder to provide all areas of the body with oxygen and nutrients.
What Your Heart Rate Says About Your Health
Your heart is a muscle with an important job pumping blood throughout your body. The healthier you are, the stronger your heart is, and the less hard it must work to circulate oxygen-rich blood. With that being said, your heart rate actually provides insight into your overall cardiovascular health. According to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, resting heart rate can be an important predictor of mortality in both men and women even those without diagnosed cardiovascular disease.
Recommended Reading: Can Tylenol Raise Blood Pressure
How To Check Heart Rate
- Place the tips of three fingers – index, second and third finger on the palm side of the wrist below the thumb base.
- Press the fingers lightly until the blood flow beneath the fingers is felt. One may need to move the fingers slightly up and down until the pulse is felt.
- Count the heartbeat for 10 seconds. Multiply the number of heartbeats by 6 to obtain the heart rate per minute.
Things Your Heart Rate Says About You
That steady beat you feel when you touch your fingers to your wrist, neck, or the inside of your elbow is good newsit means you’re alive and kicking. And if you take a minute to figure out just how fast or slow it’s thumping, you might learn something about how to keep your health in check.
Determining your heart rate is easy just take your pulse and count the beats for a full minute. But that info is most useful if you track it over time and tell your doctor about any substantial shifts, says Pam R. Taub, MD, a board-certified cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego. “What’s even more important than a single heart rate is the trend,” she says.
Taub says that the ideal resting heart rate for most people is between 60 and 85 beats per minute , though some doctors say up to 100 bpm is OK. If yours is too low or too high , it could be your body’s way of sending out an S.O.S. to tell you something’s not right.
So what could be troubling your ticker? Here are a few reasons that might explain why your heart rate is out of whack.
1. You’re stressed.Stress can make your heart pound and blood pressure rise, which throws your body into the “fight or flight” mode. Chronic stress keeps youand your heartin a state of high alert, which increases your chances of having a heart attack or stroke, says Taub.
MORE: 5 Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Vitamin D
3. There’s a short in your heart’s electrical system.
Read Also: Top Part Of Heart Not Working
Factors That Influence Resting Heart Rate
Resting heart rate doesnt just vary from one person to another, it can change for each of us from one day to the next. The following factors play a role in overall heart health and can influence your resting heart rate.
If you have a diagnosed heart condition, your medications and the nature of your diagnosis can potentially impact your resting heart rate, too. This is why its important to speak with a doctor about what your target heart rate should be.
Why Does Heart Rate Variability Matter
In a normal, healthy situation, HRV should increase during relaxing activities, for example meditation or sleep, when the parasympathetic nervous system should dominate . On the other hand, HRV naturally decreases during stress, when elevated sympathetic activity helps the body keep up with the demand. Thus, HRV is typically higher when the heart is beating slowly, and lower when the heart starts to beat faster, for example during stress or exercise.
The HRV level changes naturally from day to day, based on the level of activity and amount of, for example, work-related stress, but if a person is chronically stressed or overloaded physically or mentally the natural interplay between the two systems can be disrupted, and the body can get stuck in a sympathetically dominant fight state, with low HRV and high stress hormone levels, even when the person is resting. This is very consuming on the body and can result in various mental and physical health problems.
Fig. 2. A persons HRV graph over 24 h shows how HRV drops to almost zero during exercise and increases significantly during meditation and sleep. This is reflected as green recovery state in the Firstbeat Lifestyle Assessment graph, and is considered a meaningful, healthy response.
Don’t Miss: Slow Heart Condition Medical Term
Maximum Heart Rate And Target Heart Rate
There are two other important numbers related to your heart health: maximum heart rate and target heart rate.
Your maximum heart rate is generally the highest pulse you can get. Its the rate your heart beats at when its working hardest to meet your oxygen needs. It plays a big role in determining your aerobic capacity, which is how much oxygen your body can consume.
For a rough sense of what a healthy maximum heart rate is for you, subtract your age from 220. For example, a 40-year-old has a maximum heart rate of 180 and a 50-year-old has a maximum heart rate of 170, as shown in the chart below. However, its important to remember that this is just a guide. Your individual maximum heart rate may be higher or lower. Your doctor can help you determine what your specific range should be.
Its not possible to push your heart to its full aerobic capacity for an entire workout session maximum heart rate can only be sustained for a short period of time. This is where target heart rate enters the picture. Its the number to aim for while exercising, which varies depending on the intensity of your physical activity. For moderately intense physical activities, target heart rate is typically 50-75% of your maximum heart rate. During more vigorous exercise, its about 70-85% of the maximum. The chart below shows average target heart rate zones by age.
Heart rate zones
Healthy Hearts Recover Fast
If you are healthy and fit, your heart will recover quickly after exercise, promptly returning to a lower rate. If you are out of shape, however, youre likely to be huffing and puffing after a workout, while your heart rate stays high for a longer time. You can assess this by measuring your heart rate recovery the difference between your beats per minute when exercising vigorously and your beats per minute one minute after stopping exercising.
To find your HRR, exercise at a high intensity for a few minutes. High-intensity exercise is when you cant say more than three or four words without significant effort, and are breathing mostly through your mouth, Dr. Sinha says. Stop exercising and immediately measure your heart rate, then again one minute later. A decrease of 15-25 beats per minute in the first minute is normal. The higher the number of decrease, the fitter you are.
The difference between those two numbers can also tell you something about your risk of dying from a heart attack, Dr. Sinha adds. Studies show that if it drops by 12 or fewer beats in that one minute after exercise, you have a higher risk of death from heart disease.”
Don’t Miss: Naproxen Heart Rate
If You Overdid It On Caffeine
Its not super clear whether or not you can really ever drink too much coffee its antioxidants have some great health benefits. However, a large amount of caffeine can seriously ramp up your heart rate. A study in the Journal of Caffeine Research determined that heart rate increased in both forcefulness and speed in study participants who ingested caffeine. However, a study in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine showed that though heart rate can increase with caffeine consumption, some individuals have developed a tolerance to the chemicals effects.
You Have Diabetes Or Are On Your Way To Getting It
Doctors aren’t clear on whether a high heart rate causes diabetes or if diabetes causes a high heart rate, but recent studies show that the two are definitely related.
Often, says Taub, people who develop diabetes are less active and more likely to have coronary disease and high blood pressure, all of which strain the heart. And when your heart’s not happy, it can lead to other problems down the road.
“There are a lot of studies that link higher heart rate, especially in patients with diabetes, to more adverse outcomes,” says Taub.
Read Also: Fluticasone Heart Palpitations
Normal Resting Heart Rate
The heart rate measures how many times the heart beats in 60 seconds.
It is important to identify whether your heart rate sits within the normal range. If disease or injury weakens the heart, the organs will not receive enough blood to function normally.
The United States National Institutes of Health have published a list of normal resting heart rates.
The heart rate gets progressively slower as a person moves through childhood toward adolescence.
The normal resting heart rate for adults over the age of 10 years, including older adults, is .
Highly trained athletes may have a resting heart rate below 60 bpm, sometimes reaching 40 bpm.
The following is a table of normal resting heart rates at different ages according to the NIH:
|Over 10 years||60 to 100|
The resting heart rate can vary within this normal range. It will increase in response to a variety of changes, including exercise, body temperature, emotional triggers, and body position, such as for a short while after standing up quickly.