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.
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.”
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.
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What Are The Best Places To Check Pulse
The best places to check your heart rate are your wrist, the side of your neck, the inside of your elbow, and the top of your foot .
How to Check Your Pulse Video
Watch Emily Reeve, the Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, show you how to check your pulse.
Heart Rate Monitors
You can track your heart rate with a wrist monitor like the popular LETSCOM Fitness Tracker .
Or, check out this detailed review of heart rate monitors to help you find the right one for you.
Heart rate monitors make it easier to track your heart rate consistently and learn which activities raise or lower your pulse the most.
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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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.
When You Need A Rest
Better physical fitness translates to a lower resting heart rate, but that doesnt mean more exercise is always better. In fact, once you start overtraining by exercising too much, your resting heart rate will start to increase. A study in the Journal of Sports Sciences monitored the exercise intensity and heart rates of trained cyclists. When athletes overtrained, their resting heart rates increased. A review in the journal Sports Health hypothesized that these reactions may be due to stress and inflammation, though more research is needed. According to the American Council of Exercise, other signs of overtraining include decreased performance, excessive fatigue, moodiness and insomnia, among other symptoms.
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Legs Up The Wall To Reduce Resting Heart Rate
The legs up the wall pose is a therapeutic yoga pose that helps your body and mind relax. To do the Viparita Karani pose:
Try to stay in this pose for 5 minutes. It doesnt need to be perfect. Even having your legs above your heart works if youre relaxed.
Viparita Karani improves circulation as gravity helps blood flow from your legs back to your heart. Because your heart doesnt need to work as hard, your heart rate lowers.
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.
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Your Electrolytes Are Imbalanced
Electrolytes are compounds such as sodium and potassium that help to maintain a balance of fluids and hydration in your body. If your electrolytes are imbalanced, you will likely feel symptoms such as thirst or fatigue. But your heart rate can also be affected. According to the Mayo Clinic, electrolytes help to regulate electrical impulses in your heart. If your electrolytes are off balance, your heart rate can become erratic and create heart arrhythmia.;
Track Your Heart Rate
Keeping track of your heart rate can give you insight into your fitness level, heart health and emotional health, Dr. Sinha says. Many people are walking around with a resting heart rate that is too high, due to factors such as too much caffeine, dehydration, inactivity and persistent stress. Those extra heart beats over time can be taking years off your life.
Dr. Sinha recommends tracking your heart rate as well as keeping a journal of which activities are causing higher heart rates. Then use that information to make changes, set priorities and move toward a healthier life. If daily stress is raising your resting heart rate, for example, think twice about taking on that extra project at work or school. Consider adding a morning walk or a 10-minute breathing session at lunch.
A final reminder from Dr. Sinha: Get your doctors OK before exercising hard if you have a heart condition or other disorder where exercising may be unsafe. Also keep in mind that certain medications can affect your heart rate, making it a less reliable measurement.
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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.
What Is Your Resting Heart Rate
Your resting heart rate, or pulse, is measured when you are still, calm, and not partaking in any physical activity. It is calculated as the number of heartbeats per minute. It is easy to measure, inexpensive, and can tell you a lot about your health.
You can measure your heart rate simply by checking your pulse. Place two fingers either at your wrist or your neck. Once you feel the pulse, count the beats for 30 seconds and multiply by two in order to get beats per minute . Alternatively, many devices, such as the apple watch, have the option to track your heart rate.
Its best if you can check your resting heart rate first thing in the morning before you get up. Your pulse is lower when you are lying down compared to when standing up . Also later, during the day, your pulse may get elevated because of stress or physical activity.
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Why Is My Resting Heart Rate Decreasing
As mentioned above, a low resting heart rate is often a sign that youre in peak physical fitness. However, in some cases, a low RHR could cause you to feel dizzy or exhausted. If youre experiencing these symptoms and are wondering why is my resting heart rate going down, then you should speak to a doctor. Its also good to remember that medications like beta-blockers are designed to slow your pulse down as they block adrenaline. So always be mindful of what prescription drugs you are taking and how they could be affecting your RHR.
What Affects Resting Heart Rate
- Temperature: When temperature and humidity rise, your heart needs to pump more blood. Whereby your pulse may increase up to 5 to 10 bpm.
- Body position: Your pulse is usually the same when youre resting, whether youre sitting or standing. However, it may go up for a couple of minutes after you sit or stand.
- Emotions:;Being stressed, excited, or upset can raise your pulse.
- Body Size:;If youre obese your heart rate could be higher than average as your heart needs to work harder to circulate throughout your body.
- Medications: Drugs that block your adrenaline can slow your heart rate. Conversely, high doses of thyroid medication can raise it.
- Water: Being dehydrated raises your RHR .
- Type 2 Diabetes is associated with resting heart rate .
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What Should Your Heart Rate Be
Heart rate norms are based primarily on age rather than gender, although men tend to have slightly lower heart rates than women.
The ideal resting heart rate for adults is 60 to 100 bpm. Very fit individuals such as athletes may have resting heart rates below 60 bpm.
Target heart rates can be used to maximize the efficiency of your workouts, as well as to keep you safe. Typically, exercising at 60 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate is most beneficial.
Exercising at the lower end of this percentage or doing interval training is ideal for fat burning. Exercising at the higher end is ideal for building cardiovascular strength.
To calculate your estimated maximum heart rate, you can use the equation of subtracting your age from 220. For example, if youre 45, then your approximate maximum heart rate is 175 bpm .
You can then use your maximum heart rate to determine what your target heart rate is while exercising.
The chart below shows estimated maximum and target heart rates for various age groups:
The Intensity Of Your Workouts
If youre not sure how much youre benefiting from your workouts, your heart rate could be a useful tool. Tracking your heart rate during exercise can help you gauge whether you need to step it up or scale it back. Everyones heart rate is different, so before you can fully use this tool, you should figure out your maximum heart rate. According to the Mayo Clinic, you can estimate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. The higher your heart rate during a workout, the higher the intensity. But guidelines from the American Heart Association recommend getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise, during which your heart rate hits 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. If during cardio workouts youre finding that your heart rate doesnt get that high, you may want to consider switching up your routine or kicking things up a notch.
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What Is A Dangerous Resting Heart Rate
A resting heart rate can be dangerous if its too fast, tachycardia, or too slow, bradycardia. Tachycardia is generally over 100 bpm and bradycardia is generally below 60 bpm . A resting heart rate that is too fast or too slow could be the result of a more serious underlying health problem.
What Is Tachycardia?
Tachycardia is a resting heart rate that is too fast . It can be caused by congenital heart disease, poor circulation, anemia, hypertension, or injury to the heart, such as a heart attack . Tachycardia is also associated with a shorter life expectancy .
What Is Bradycardia?
Bradycardia is a slow resting heart rate . It can be caused by hypotension, congenital heart disease, damage to the heart , chronic inflammation, or myocarditis .
If you have a resting heart rate that is too high or too low for an extended period of time, it can cause dangerous health conditions such as heart failure, blood clots, fainting, and sudden cardiac arrest.
if your resting heart rate is consistently above 100 bpm or below 60 bpm , you should see your doctor or medical provider. Additionally, you should watch for symptoms such as fainting, shortness of breath, feeling dizzy or light-headed, chest pain, or feeling discomfort or fluttering in your chest.
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.
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Foods That Lower Resting Heart Rate
People in the Blue Zones, areas where people live longer than average, eat plenty of beans. One reason beans are so healthy is that they can help lower your pulse.
In one study, participants were given a cup a day of beans, chickpeas, or lentils. Participants lowered their resting heart rate from an average of 74.1 to 70.7, a 3.4 point drop. The change was similar to those in the other study who exercised for 250 hours!
You might consider eating beans regularly to keep your resting heart rate in a healthy range. Beans are also an excellent source of vegan protein.