Your resting heart rate can say a lot about you. Ask any runner and they will tell you that they monitor their resting heart rate to find out, for example, how well they respond to a workout and if they could catch a cold.
Knowing how your ticker works can provide you with valuable information, but don't feel pressured to compare yourself to others. Heart rate, at rest or not, varies from person to person.
What is the resting heart rate?
Your resting heart rate (or heart rate) is the rate at which your heart beats at rest. Specifically, it is the number of times your heart beats per minute. RHR is measured when you are relaxed and not doing any physical activity.
What is the normal heart rate at rest?
The normal RHR range for adults is 60 to 100 beats per minute.
However, what is normal for you may not be normal for someone else. Paying attention to your RHR regularly can help you notice when something is wrong. For example, if you normally clock your RHR at around 65 beats per minute and notice that it is constantly increasing, this could be a sign that something is wrong with your health.
A slight change in your RHR isn't a definitive sign that something is terribly wrong (you may be catching a cold), but it can be a helpful red flag for those paying attention. An unusually high RHR can cause your doctor to check your blood pressure or, for example, order blood tests.
For some people, a low RHR can mean that they are in peak physical shape. For example, athletes and very fit people are known to have low RHR. But dead people do the same – this illustrates that RHR alone cannot tell us everything about a person's health.
On the contrary, a high RHR can increase the risk of heart attack . Research shows that RHR in the upper part of the "normal" range can increase the risk of premature death. The same study also found that a high RHR was associated with poor physical condition and common markers of poor health, such as high blood pressure and high triglycerides .
Can I change my resting heart rate?
Healthy habits like exercise can help you lower your resting heart rate. In fact, the work of the heart can help it pump blood more efficiently by reducing the number of strokes required to pump the same amount of blood.
What can affect your heart rate?
Several things can affect your RHR, including:
- Hormonal changes
- Times of the day
Exercise tends to increase your heart rate, so it's best to wait a bit before reading after exercise.
Does RHR change over time?
Yes, RHR can change with age. For example, newborns have a normal heart rate of 70 to 190 beats per minute.
How to determine your resting heart rate
You can measure RHR manually by gently placing two fingers on the inside of your wrist at the base of your thumb (radial pulse) or on the side of your neck near the windpipe (carotid pulse). If you feel a pulse, then you are ready to start the timer. Set a timer for 60 seconds and count how many heartbeats you will feel during this period of time.
You will get a more accurate result if you take multiple measurements and get an average.
Another way to measure your relative heart rate is to use a blood pressure monitor, which you can set to measure your heart rate. Many fitness devices also measure your heart rate. Wrist heart rate monitors aren't as accurate as chest monitors, but you can use them 24/7 and get pretty reliable averages.
If you have access to continuous readings, you will also be well equipped to notice when things are out of your normal range. Many experts recommend taking RHR first thing in the morning.
Get the word of drug information
An RHR can give you a general idea of your health, but it is not particularly useful information on its own. When combined with other health indicators like blood pressure, RHR can be valuable. Paying attention to your normal RHR can also help you determine when you might be overly stressed or overworked.
Remember that RHR is different for everyone. If you are concerned about a high or low RHR, talk to your doctor. Also, you won't know if your reading is abnormal if you don't measure your RHR regularly.