Your Resting Heart Rate: What Is Normal and Healthy?

July 13, 2015

There’s quite a bit of emphasis placed on cardiac health and the dangers of a poor heart condition. A rather simple way to discern the healthiness of your heart is by analyzing your resting heart rate, or your RHR. A little bit of knowledge now could be a difference maker in the future!

Heart rate, also know as pulse rate, refers to the speed at which your heart is beating, or in other words, the number of heartbeats expressed as beats per minute (bpm). Your heart rate varies depending on your body’s physical needs at any given moment, and in response to other factors in your life.

factors that effect your heart rate

Factors that can influence heart rate include:

  • Activity level (sleeping, resting, exercise)
  • Fitness level
  • Air temperature
  • Body position (standing up or lying down)
  • Emotions and stress levels
  • Body size
  • Medications
  • Food and drink
  • Illness

Your resting heart rate (RHR) is a simple, easy-to-measure indicator of your cardiovascular health. A healthy heart that is in good shape doesn’t have to beat as often to pump blood to the body. A healthy heart is strong and more efficient, pumping more blood at a higher rate while efficiently circulating oxygen throughout your body. The calculation of your resting heart rate is crucial to understanding results you would receive from an activity monitor or heart rate chest strap. Be aware, however, that a RHR that is too low and is not a result of achieving a high level of fitness can mean that the heart’s natural pacemaker is not working correctly.

How to Calculate Your Resting Heart Rate

Measurement of your RHR is simple and can be accomplished by everyone. To calculate your RHR, find a seat in a comfortable environment and allow yourself to relax. Stay seated and as motionless as possible for 5-10 minutes, allowing your body to rest. Once sufficient time has passed, locate your radial artery, or the pulse on the underside of your wrist by gently applying pressure with your index and middle fingers. Using a watch with a second hand or a digital stop watch, count how many beats you feel for ten seconds. Repeat this calculation two or three times and find your average number. Multiply this number by six to achieve your RHR. For example, if you count 12 beats in ten seconds, your RHR would be 72 BPM (12 x 6 = 72).

Be sure to regularly check your heart rate as your heart rate does fluctuate based on the factors previously mentioned. Routinely checking your RHR and record your results to see your true RHR over time, ensuring you are maintaining a healthy RHR.

Resting Heart Rate Chart

The resting heart rate chart (pulse rate chart) below shows the normal range for a RHR according to age or physical condition. Remember, many things can cause changes in your normal heart rate including your age, activity level, and the time of day.

heart rate age reference chart graphic

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