Get to Know Your Resting Heart Rate

Resting heart rate (RHR) -- the tempo at which your heart beats when your body is at rest -- is an excellent indicator of how fit you are.

In general, age, gender, genetics, along with your current state of health and fitness all impact your resting heart rate. Very active individuals often have a resting heart rate below 60 beats per minute, while elite athletes can have resting heart rates below 40. On the other hand, older, unfit and overweight individuals tend to have an elevated resting heart rate.

MEASURING YOUR RESTING HEART RATE

The ideal time to measure your resting heart rate is first thing in the morning as soon as you’ve woken up naturally -- without an alarm clock. Be sure to stay in bed while measuring your heart rate.

The most effective way to measure your resting heart rate is with an accurate and reliable heart rate monitor. If you don’t yet have a heart rate monitor, you can manually measure your resting heart rate by checking your pulse at your wrist. Here’s how:

  1. Turn your left wrist up.

  2. Take your index and middle finger and place them on the side of the wrist that favors the thumb (the underside of your wrist).

  3. Press gently until you feel your pulse.

  4. Count the number of beats that you feel for one full minute 


Here’s an example: You counted 34 beats within 30 seconds. Multiply 34 by 2. Your resting heart rate is 68 beats per minute (bpm).

HOW DID I DO?

Let’s take a look at where you fall on the following chart, according to the American Heart Association:

resting heart rate by age

WHAT INFLUENCES MY RHR?

One of the best decisions you can make is to build the habit of checking your resting heart rate on a regular basis. You may also need to change certain aspects of your lifestyle in order to bring your resting heart rate into a normal range. Here’s a look at some of the biggest influences on your resting heart rate: 

Stress 

  • It can surface when you’re stuck in rush hour traffic, getting yelled at by your boss or dealing with a slow line at the bank. Emotional stress is a major contributor to your heart rate becoming elevated, so try and relax your mind as often as possible.


Exercise

  • Exercise is highly beneficial to your resting heart rate. When you perform a strenuous physical activity, you are raising your heart rate so that your body can supply the proper amount of blood, nutrients, and oxygen throughout. This may seem like a contradiction but the positive stress of exercise ultimately helps to lower your resting heart rate while increasing your target heart rate.


Medications

  • Prescriptions and supplements are notorious for affecting your heart rate. A thermogenic supplement for weight loss may dramatically increase your heart rate while a beta-blocker prescribed by your doctor may drop your heart rate well below 60 beats-per-minute. Be mindful of any medications or supplements you may be taking. 


 
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