Resting heart rate, measured in beats per minute, is your heart rate at rest. It serves as an indicator of fitness. Resting heart rate varies with age. In adults, 60–100 beats per minute (bpm) is considered normal. In general, and with some exceptions, a lower resting heart rate indicates a higher fitness level.
This article reviews how to measure your resting heart rate and what it means to you.
Measure resting heart rate
While there are some products, like smartwatches and heart rate monitors, that can measure your resting heart rate, all you need is a watch with a seconds hand.
To measure your heart rate, place a finger on it radial artery or carotid artery. The afferent artery is found at the base of the wrist on the lateral side of the thumb. The carotid artery is found in the neck, on the side of the trachea, just below the angle of the jaw.
Once you have located the artery, place your index and middle fingers on it and count the number of beats in one minute. A faster method is to count beats in 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to determine beats per minute.
The key to getting accurate results
Your resting heart rate is determined by measuring your pulse when you are relaxed and at rest. Do not measure resting heart rate after:
- Active exercise
- Take a walk around the house
- When you feel stressed
All of which can increase heart rate and give inaccurate results about true resting heart rate.
Normal resting heart rate for age
From birth to adulthood, resting heart rate changes. In infants and children, the normal resting heart rate is higher, but the normal range decreases with age until adulthood.
A classification for heart rate ranges in children based on a large study is listed below.
|Heart rate range in children (10th – 90th percentile)
|Normal resting heart rate range (bpm)
For people 18 years of age and older, a normal resting heart rate is 60–100 beats per minute.
What does it mean?
Lower than usual
A lower than normal resting heart rate is called slow heart rate, although it’s not necessarily a bad thing. For example, highly physically fit people, such as long-distance runners, can have a low heart rate up to the age of 40 at rest with no problems.
However, for most people, a low heart rate can indicate a problem, especially if there are any symptoms, such as:
- Dizziness or fainting
- Weakness or fatigue
- Shortness of breath
Some common causes of low heart rate include:
A resting heart rate of 60 to 100 beats/min is considered normal, but the lower end of this range is better. A study done over about 20 years demonstrated that for every 10 beats/min increase in heart rate, the risk of death increased by up to 20%.
Taller than usual
Heart rate higher than 100 bpm is called fast heart beat. In addition to recent exercise, many things can increase your resting heart rate, including:
Serious condition Causes rapid heart rate
Several life-threatening conditions can also cause a high resting heart rate, including:
If you have symptoms related to a high heart rate, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting, seek immediate medical attention.
How to improve your resting heart rate
You can lower your resting heart rate by improving your fitness and making some lifestyle changes.
Regular cardiovascular exercise, like running, swimming, or biking, helps the heart work more efficiently over time. With each heartbeat, the “hard heart” maintains the blood supply to the body at a lower heart rate.
In addition to exercise, other actions that can improve your resting heart rate include:
Resting heart rate is an indicator of fitness, with lower values associated with improved health outcomes. For most adults, a normal resting heart rate is 60–100 bpm. It may be lower in athletes or people who are physically active.
People can take steps to improve their resting heart rate by combining regular exercise, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol and caffeine intake, and managing stress.
A very good word
Monitoring your resting heart rate can be helpful as you get older and more likely to get sick. It can be helpful for health care providers who treat many different conditions. If your resting heart rate is outside the normal range, consider some lifestyle and habit changes to improve your heart health and contact your healthcare provider if you worry.
frequently asked Questions
What is a dangerous heart rate?
A dangerous heartbeat is a heart rate that pumps so slowly or so quickly (and therefore inefficiently) that it doesn’t provide proper blood flow to the body. A low or high heart rate accompanied by symptoms of lightheadedness, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath, or loss of consciousness can be considered dangerous.
The actual heart rate value at which this happens varies from person to person. In general, a resting heart rate with symptoms considered dangerous as such is as low as 40 bpm or less or as high as 130 bpm or higher.
What are the signs of a heart attack?
The most common symptoms of a heart attack are chest discomfort, which can spread to the neck, and difficulty breathing. Other symptoms may include nausea, fatigue, and lightheadedness. Heart rate can change during a heart attack. Some heart attacks can cause a heart block and a very low heart rate, while others can cause dangerous arrhythmias like ventricular tachycardia and a very high heart rate.
What factors affect resting heart rate?
Resting heart rate can be an indicator of how healthy it is, but it varies depending on the time of day, activity level, psychological state, sleep patterns, caffeine and alcohol intake, certain medications, and levels hormones (such as thyroid hormone and cortisol).
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