- What Role Does Target Heart Rate Play in Heart Disease?
- Calculating Your Target Heart Rate
- Tips for Managing Your Target Heart Rate
- Target Heart Rate and Estimated Maximum Heart Rate
- 4 Great Heart-Rate Monitors for Runners
- To optimize exercise, heed your heart rate training zone
- How to Determine Your Maximum Heart Rate
- How do you get your heart rate in the target zone?
- What’s Your Ideal Heart Rate?
- How to measure heart rate
- Start with resting heart rate
- Ideal heart rate for exercise
- Adjusting your activity level
- Mid-life resting heart rate of 75 plus beats/minute linked to doubling in early death risk
- Target Heart Rate Calculator
- Calculate Your Average Resting Heart Rate
- Your Desired Percent Effort
- Heart Rate Training Zones
- Blood pressure vs. heart rate
- How to measure heart rate
- Resting heart rate
- Maximum and target heart rate
- Lowering a rapid heart rate
- Arrhythmia, tachycardia and other conditions
- Additional resources
- Feel the beat of heart rate training
- Knowing your heart rate zone reminds you to maintain a proper level of exercise intensity.
- Getting into the zone
- Heart rate workouts
- What Is a Normal Resting Heart Rate?
- What Is a Slow or Fast Heart Rate?
- How Can You Find Out Your Resting Heart Rate?
- What Your Resting Heart Rate Says About You
- What Do My Heart Rate Numbers Mean?
- What Your Heart Rate Says About Your Cardiovascular Health
- How Can You Improve — or Lower — Your Heart Rate?
What Role Does Target Heart Rate Play in Heart Disease?
Regular exercise is important to living a heart-healthy lifestyle, especially for people with heart disease. To do so effectively, you need to know how to calculate your target heart rate. Working out at your target heart rate protects you from overdoing it, but that’s just one of its many health benefits. It helps reduce the risk of depression and early death among heart disease patients, and it also helps improve blood pressure, blood sugar levels, blood oxygen, and your general quality of life.
“Heart rate is like a speedometer in a car; it really tells you how hard you are working,” explains physiologist Kerry J. Stewart, EdD, FAACVPR, FACSM, FSGC, professor of medicine and director of clinical and research exercise physiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.
A few definitions are probably in order. Your heart rate is a measure of how many times your heart beats every minute. Your target heart rate (THR) is determination of the heart rate level that will provide the most effective and beneficial workout for aerobic and endurance activities. Using your THR to track changes in your heart rate during a workout will allow you to adjust your exercise to work harder or to slow down, as needed.
Calculating Your Target Heart Rate
Your heart rate changes depending on your activity level. At rest, for instance, a “normal” heart beats 60 to 100 times per minute. During aerobic exercise, generally speaking, your maximum target heart rate should be about 220 beat per minute minus your age. According to Dr. Stewart, however, the ideal target heart rate for a healthy adult is between 70 and 85 percent of the maximum. This would mean for a healthy 50-year-old man, his target heart rate should range between about 120 and 145 beats per minute (220 minus 50 times .70 and .85).
Many heart-disease patients, especially those recovering from a heart attack, will need to take a supervised stress test in their doctor’s office to help determine how hard their heart should work during exercise. They can then plan a fitness program around that information. In addition, “it would be helpful for most people with heart conditions to go to one or two sessions in a supervised cardiac rehab program so they can learn how fast to move,” Kelley advises.
Tips for Managing Your Target Heart Rate
Here a few pointers on keeping track of your heart rate as well as choosing and using a heart rate monitor effectively.
Check Your Pulse
The most low-tech method of monitoring heart rate is simply checking your pulse. Using the pointer and index fingers of one hand, find the pulse in your neck or wrist. Track the second hand on a watch and count your pulse for one minute.
Use a Heart Rate Monitor
A heart rate monitor is also a useful tool. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and price ranges. Stewart says most people can get a suitable one for under $100. Before you purchase one, think about what you will need your monitor to do. The most basic models, which look like sports watches, track heart rate and let you know when you are in your target range. More sophisticated versions can also track calories burned or distance traveled. The most advanced monitors can download results to your computer or include GPS systems.
The most reliable heart monitors, such as those used in Stewart’s cardiac rehabilitation facility, have chest straps with senso-transmitters that send information about how hard your heart is pumping to a wrist unit where you can easily see the results.
Consult Your Doctor
Stewart points out that some people with heart conditions should not rely solely on their heart rate numbers because some medications, such as beta blockers for blood pressure, or implantable devices, such as pacemakers, can interfere with the heart’s natural response. People who are unable to use heart rate monitors can use a scale of perceived exertion (how hard they are working out) from 6 (least amount of effort) to 20 (most effort), says Stewart.
“What we might tell a 50- or 60-year-old person who might have a pacemaker or taking drugs that prevent their heart rate from increasing is that, rather than monitoring their heart rate, work hard enough so that on this scale they maintain a level of 12 to 13,” says Stewart, adding that research shows perception of exertion is a good substitute for heart rate.
Also, before you start any new exercise programs or make changes to your existing routine, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor first to make sure you’re not participating in activities that may place too much stress on your heart.
For the latest news and information on living a heart-healthy lifestyle, follow @HeartDiseases on Twitter from the editors of @EverydayHealth.
One of the easiest, and maybe most effective, ways to gauge your health can be done in 30 seconds with two fingers. Measuring your resting heart rate (RHR) — the number of heart beats per minute while you’re at rest — is a real-time snapshot of how your heart muscle is functioning.
It’s easy to do. Place your index and middle finger on your wrist just below the thumb, or along either side of your neck, so you can feel your pulse. Use a watch to count the number of beats for 30 seconds and double it to get your beats per minute. Repeat a few times to ensure an accurate reading. While a heart rate is considered normal if the rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute, most healthy relaxed adults have a resting heart rate below 90 beats per minute.
All in the numbers
Your resting heart rate, when considered in the context of other markers, such as blood pressure and cholesterol, can help identify potential health problems as well as gauge your current heart health.
“In certain cases, a lower resting heart rate can mean a higher degree of physical fitness, which is associated with reduced rates of cardiac events like heart attacks,” says Dr. Jason Wasfy, director of quality and analytics at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center. “However, a high resting heart rate could be a sign of an increased risk of cardiac risk in some situations, as the more beats your heart has to take eventually takes a toll on its overall function.”
In fact, research has found that a resting heart rate near the top of the 60 to 100 range can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and even early death.
For example, a 2013 study in the journal Heart tracked the cardiovascular health of about 3,000 men for 16 years and found that a high resting heart rate was linked with lower physical fitness and higher blood pressure, body weight, and levels of circulating blood fats. The researchers also discovered that the higher a person’s resting heart rate, the greater the risk of premature death. Specifically, an RHR between 81 and 90 doubled the chance of death, while an RHR higher than 90 tripled it.
While a low resting heart rate often suggests greater physical fitness, some situations can make your RHR too low, which may cause occasional dizziness or fatigue. “This may be the result of the electrical nodes of the heart aging, or not transmitting electrical signals correctly,” says Dr. Wasfy. “You should report these symptoms to your health care provider.”
Check your resting heart rate early and often
Dr. Wasfy recommends checking your resting heart rate a few times per week and at different times of the day. Keep in mind that the number can be influenced by many factors, including stress and anxiety, circulating hormones, and medications such as antidepressants and blood pressure drugs.
Talk with your doctor if your resting heart rate is regularly on the high end. There are ways to lower it and keep it within its proper range. One example is keeping your cholesterol levels in check. High levels restrict blood flow through the arteries and damage blood vessels, which can make your heart beat faster than normal to move blood through the body.
Another reliable way to lower your resting heart rate is to exercise. “Even small amounts of exercise can make a change,” says Dr. Wasfy. However, the intensity of the exercise is key. One study that involved 55-year-old adults found that just one hour per week of high-intensity aerobic training (about 66% of maximum effort) lowered RHR more efficiently than a low-intensity effort (33% of max effort).
Tips for measuring your resting heart rate
- Do not take your RHR within one to two hours after exercise or a stressful event. Your heart rate can stay elevated after strenuous activities.
- Wait at least an hour after consuming caffeine, which can cause heart palpitations and make your heart rate rise.
- The American Heart Association recommends checking your resting heart rate first thing in the morning (but before you get out of bed).
Target Heart Rate and Estimated Maximum Heart Rate
One way of checking physical activity intensity is to determine whether your pulse or heart rate is within the target zone during physical activity.1
For moderate-intensity physical activity, your target heart rate should be between 64% and 76%1,2 of your maximum heart rate. You can estimate your maximum heart rate based on your age. To estimate your maximum age-related heart rate, subtract your age from 220. For example, for a 50-year-old person, the estimated maximum age-related heart rate would be calculated as 220 – 50 years = 170 beats per minute (bpm). The 64% and 76% levels would be:
- 64% level: 170 x 0.64 = 109 bpm, and
- 76% level: 170 x 0.76 = 129 bpm
This shows that moderate-intensity physical activity for a 50-year-old person will require that the heart rate remains between 109 and 129 bpm during physical activity.
For vigorous-intensity physical activity, your target heart rate should be between 77% and 93%1,2 of your maximum heart rate. To figure out this range, follow the same formula used above, except change “64 and 76%” to “77 and 93%”. For example, for a 35-year-old person, the estimated maximum age-related heart rate would be calculated as 220 – 35 years = 185 beats per minute (bpm). The 77% and 93% levels would be:
- 77% level: 185 x 0.77 = 142 bpm, and
- 93% level: 185 x 0.93 = 172 bpm
This shows that vigorous-intensity physical activity for a 35-year-old person will require that the heart rate remains between 142 and 172 bpm during physical activity.
It’s no secret: Runners love fancy running gear, and if you’ve been itching for a good reason to invest in a new fancy watch that will track and measure everything you might need to hit your next PR, heart rate training just might be the excuse you’ve been looking for.
“Heart rate training allows you to monitor your effort, to keep the easy days easy, the hard days hard, and the tempo sessions in the right ‘effort,’” says Terra Castro, the Owner and Founder of Detroit Body Garage. Without heart rate data, “many people spend time in this ‘gray zone,’ not getting the full benefit of the training effect,” she says. “Plus, heart rate training is also a way to make sure you aren’t overtraining and are recovering well.”
But in order to execute heart rate training properly, you have to get to know your different heart rate zones and specifically, your maximum heart rate, the highest heart rate you can attain during exercise. The catch, of course, is that knowing your estimated maximum heart rate can be a little elusive to pin down.
How to Calculate Maximum Heart Rate
The most common way to find your maximum heart rate is by using one of the many age-based equations. The most well-known of these is the Fox formula. It is the very simple:
220 – age = Maximum Heart Rate (MHR)
This means that for a 30-year-old runner, the estimated maximum heart rate would be 190. Then, heart rate zones can be determined by calculating a given percentage of the 190 MHR.
The trouble with the Fox formula is that it’s not the most accurate measure as numerous variables impact MHR including genetics, the specific activity (MHR varies between running and cycling due to the involvement of upper body musculature), medications, body size, altitude, and yes—even age. Runners of the same age can have drastically different max heart rates depending on how well-trained they are.
Because of this, there are at least six possible formulas, all claiming bragging rights for being the “most accurate” for predicting maximal heart rate. Of course, researchers are doing their best to validate the different formulas, but that gets tricky, too. For instance, a 2011 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research determined that in college-aged subjects, the Gellish2 and Fairburn equations seemed to be the most accurate options. That said, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends formulas with a standard deviation of seven beats per minute such as Gellish and Tanaka equations.
But there’s still a problem for the general public when it comes to using these formulas—they’re still just a rough estimate of MHR because differences between individuals can vary widely. For instance, a longitudinal study published in 2010 in the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise found that the older a person is, and the higher the person’s body mass index (BMI), the less likely it is for age-predicted maximal heart rates (like all of the formulas above) to be accurate. So studies that look at healthy, college-aged subjects, or trained athletes, or really, anyone under 50 years old, may not be good predictors for other people in the general population.
So what are you to do? It never hurts to get an estimate of what your heart rate max might be based on any of the above formulas. But from there, just start paying attention to where your heart rate tracks during workouts to see if the estimates feel accurate. “The heart rate tolerance is specific to each individual and is best determined by experience,” says William O. Roberts, M.D., M.S., professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Minnesota. “The role of MHR for runners is to provide a guide for training. The closer you are to your MHR during your workouts and races, the shorter the duration of exercise that you’ll be able to maintain at that pace. So, if you can maintain a rate of 160 during your workouts and races, your MHR is well above that.”
How to Measure Your Heart Rate
To properly utilize heart rate training, you need an easy way to track your heart rate. Of course, you can always go “old school,” use a timer, and place your fingers on your pulse to check beats per minute during your workouts, but that can get challenging when your heart rate soars, and you’re trying to count beats while huffing and puffing. Fortunately, chest straps and wrist watches make measuring your HR instantly easier.
Just about any GPS-tracking watch will also track heart rate with at least moderate accuracy, but if you’re looking for the most accurate option available, studies show you’ll be best-served by opting for a chest-strap monitor.
According to a 2017 study comparing chest strap and wrist-based heart rate monitors, the Polar H7 (currently available as the H10) was the most accurate of the seven products tested. Of course, there are many options on the market that haven’t been tested with this type of scientifically-validated approach, but of those that have been studied, these products consistently achieve the most accurate results:
- Polar chest straps
- Apple Watch
- TomTom Spark
- Garmin Forerunner
4 Great Heart-Rate Monitors for Runners
Wahoo TICKR $49.99
Accurate, comfortable, affordable, and pairs easily to devices
Garmin HRM-Run $78.90
A high-powered HR monitor for data junkies
Apple Watch Series 4 $514.00
Optical heart-rate monitor with an EKG function
Scosche RHYTHM+ $79.95
A waterproof, optical HR monitor for your arm
Training With Heart Rate
Once you’ve selected a heart rate monitor, the trick is putting the information you glean from the watch or strap to use. After calculating your estimated MHR, determine your different heart rate zones by multiplying your MHR by the percentage for each zone. For example, if you wanted to find 55 percent of your maximum, you multiple your MHR by 0.55.
- Zone 1: 55 percent to 65 percent: This is a very comfortable effort used for warmup and cooldown.
- Zone 2: 65 percent to 75 percent: Used for the bulk of training, this relaxed effort allows you to hold a conversation.
- Zone 3: 75 percent to 85 percent: This is a comfortably hard effort during which you can only say short, broken sentences.
- Zone 4: 85 percent to 95 percent: Often a 5K pace, this is a very hard effort that’s sustainable, but only lets you speak a few words at a time.
This will give you ranges of beats per minute for each percentage of maximum heart rate. Then pre-determine the zone you want to work in during each running routine. As you run, you can check your heart rate monitor to make sure you’re staying in the desired zone.
And luckily, there are apps that help manage this type of training for you. “I love using Garmin Connect Software and Strava,” says Castro. “I can plug my zones into my Garmin and track the time spent in each zone as well as track my overall progress toward my goal with specific data.”
Just remember, because heart rate maximums using age-predicted formulas are estimates, you may need to adjust your zones over time based on your own results and how each run feels. For instance, if you calculate your 90-percent zone (a near all-out effort) to be 175, but you’re able to maintain 175 beats per minute comfortably for several minutes, your estimated maximal heart rate has probably been underestimated. You may need to adjust your zones based on perceived effort at each level of intensity as time goes on and as you adapt to training.
To optimize exercise, heed your heart rate training zone
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Whether you’re interested in running a marathon or staving off the chronic diseases of ageing, to reap the rewards of your efforts getting into the zone is essential.
A man runs barefoot in downtown Los Angeles, California, November 8, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Experts say knowing and staying within your heart rate training zone is an easy way to pace the intensity of your workout.
“Exercisers need to get to at least a moderate level of physical activity in order to reap the benefits,” said Dr. Adrian Hutber of the American College of Sports Medicine. “Your goal is to get to a stage where you’re fit enough to exercise within your heart rate training zone.”
Your heart rate training zone, or target heart rate, is based on your maximum heart rate (MHR), which is roughly calculated as 220 minus your age.
“It’s not exact but it doesn’t need to be,” said Hutber. “It’s a really good indicator.”
For moderate-intensity physical activity, a person’s target heart rate should be 50 to 70 percent of MHR, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vigorous exercisers should aim for 70 to 85 percent.
A 62-year-old woman has an estimated target heart rate zone of 111-134 beats per minute. An 18-year-old boy has a range of 141-172.
Science tells us you need at least 150 minutes of moderate-level physical activity per week to be healthy, said Hutber, quoting U.S. government guidelines.
Heart rate is a user-friendly way to track intensity level, according to Hutber. METS (Metabolic Equivalent of Task), which measures energy consumption, is another and VO2, which measures oxygen uptake, is a third.
“But for the public it’s easier to talk about percentage of maximum heart rate,” he said.
So short of wearing a heart monitor, how can you be sure you’re training in the zone? Most modern treadmills, elliptical trainers, and other cardio machines will tell you if you feed it your correct age. And experts say you should.
“For the beginner who wants the most benefits and results, getting in that range is more important than worrying about calories burned,” said Deborah Plitt, a trainer with Life Fitness, the equipment manufacturer.
She said the training zone is tied to age because as the heart gets older and becomes less efficient, it beats faster.
But as you become more fit your heart muscle recovers from exercise more quickly, returning sooner to the resting heart rate.
“Your resting heart rate becomes lower than it was because the same workout is getting easier,” she explained. “The heart is a muscle and as it gets stronger it doesn’t have to pump as many times … It becomes more efficient.”
People can check their heart rate any time simply by taking their pulse for 15 seconds and multiplying that number by four to calculate beats per minute.
A less disruptive way to check the intensity of your workout is the sing-talk test.
“It’s a very approximate but very good litmus test for moderate physical activity,” Hutber said. “If you’re exercising hard enough that you can still carry on a conversation but you couldn’t sing, that’s moderate intensity. If you can’t talk you’re moving into vigorous.”
And if you’re able to both chat and carry a tune?
“Then you haven’t brought your activity up to a moderate level,” he said. “That shouldn’t be your goal.”
This story corrects hours to minutes in eighth paragraph.
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
How to Determine Your Maximum Heart Rate
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Have you ever felt your heart beating quickly during a workout and stopped to check your pulse on your wrist or neck? Your pulse determines your heart rate, or how many times your heart beats in one minute. Pulse rates differ from person to person based on various factors, such as weight and activity level. To get the best results, you should exercise below your maximum heart rate in what is referred to as your target heart rate; this will guarantee that you are achieving the ideal intensity level for your goals. Knowing and monitoring your maximum heart rate while you’re active can be a powerful gauge of your intensity level and help you to avoid over- or underexercising.
Heart Rate by Age
The traditional method, also known as HRmax, is a simple way of gauging your maximum heart rate. Start by subtracting your age from 220. Then, use the result to calculate your range.
For example, if you’re 50 years old, the calculation would be: 220 – 50 = 170 (HRmax). To calculate your heart rate on the high end of the suitable range (about 75 percent of your max heart rate), multiply 170 by 0.75 (max intensity) to get about 128 beats per minute (bpm).
Heart Rate by Age and Gender
A recent study found that the traditional method of calculating HRmax detailed above has been overestimating peak heart rates for women for nearly forty years; traditional HRmax calculations are based on a male standard. In 1992, Northwestern Medicine conducted an extensive study of nearly 6,000 women, which helped them come up with a new formula that gives a more accurate estimation of heart rates that healthy woman should achieve during exercise. This method is also more precise in predicting the risk of heart-related issues during a stress test. Based on the new research, the new formula for women is 206 minus 88 percent of their age: For a 50-year-old, 206 – (50 x 0.88) = 162 bpm.
Heart Rate by Age and Resting Heart Rate
Your resting heart rate is a valuable metric to determine your fitness level and heart health. A range of factors can affect your resting heart rate, including your body size, activity level, and body position. According to the American Heart Association, the average person’s resting heart rate should be between 60 and 100 bpm. You’ll need to know how to find your pulse in order to calculate your resting heart rate.
As you become more physically fit, your heart becomes more able to pump blood to the rest of the body. The Karvonen method, otherwise known as the heart rate reserve (HRR) formula, takes your resting heart rate into consideration by introducing the difference between your maximum heart rate and your resting heart rate. To determine your HRR, take your HRmax and subtract your resting heart rate (RHR). For a more accurate calculation, average the sum of your resting pulse for three consecutive mornings prior to getting out of bed. The Karvonen formula is your heart rate reserve multiplied by the percentage of intensity plus your resting heart rate.
For example, a 50-year-old with a resting heart rate of 65 would calculate as follows:
- 220 – 50 = 170 for HRmax
- 170 – 65 = 105 for RHR
- + 65 = about 144 bpm
Always talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise program to determine what a safe heart rate zone is for you. Additionally, stop exercising and call your doctor if you feel any discomfort or if you become dizzy or short of breath.
What should your heart rate be when working out, and how can you keep track of it? Our simple chart will help keep you in the target training zone, whether you want to lose weight or just maximize your workout. Find out what normal resting and maximum heart rates are for your age and how exercise intensity and other factors affect heart rate.
How do you get your heart rate in the target zone?
When you work out, are you doing too much or not enough? There’s a simple way to know: Your target heart rate helps you hit the bullseye so you can get max benefit from every step, swing and squat. Even if you’re not a gym rat or elite athlete, knowing your heart rate (or pulse) can help you track your health and fitness level.
First Things First: Resting Heart Rate
Your resting heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute when you’re at rest. A good time to check it is in the morning after you’ve had a good night’s sleep, before you get out of bed or grab that first cup of java!
For most of us, between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm) is normal.1 The rate can be affected by factors like stress, anxiety, hormones, medication, and how physically active you are. An athlete or more active person may have a resting heart rate as low as 40 beats per minute. Now that’s chill!
When it comes to resting heart rate, lower is better. It usually means your heart muscle is in better condition and doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain a steady beat. Studies have found that a higher resting heart rate is linked with lower physical fitness and higher blood pressure and body weight.2
Know Your Numbers: Maximum and Target Heart Rate
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 it’s about 70-85% of maximum.
The figures are averages, so use them as a general guide.
Target HR Zone 50-85%
Average Maximum Heart Rate, 100%
|20 years||100-170 beats per minute (bpm)||200 bpm|
|30 years||95-162 bpm||190 bpm|
|35 years||93-157 bpm||185 bpm|
|40 years||90-153 bpm||180 bpm|
|45 years||88-149 bpm||175 bpm|
|50 years||85-145 bpm||170 bpm|
|55 years||83-140 bpm||165 bpm|
|60 years||80-136 bpm||160 bpm|
|65 years||78-132 bpm||155 bpm|
|70 years||75-128 bpm||150 bpm|
What’s Your Ideal Heart Rate?
Heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute. You can measure it while at rest (resting heart rate) and while exercising (training heart rate). Your heart rate is one of the most reliable indicators that you’re pushing yourself hard enough while exercising.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a heart problem or if you have any other risk factors of cardiovascular disease, talk to a doctor before you start exercising and trying to establish a training heart rate range. They can tell you which exercises are safe and appropriate for your condition and fitness level. They’ll also determine what your target heart rate should be and if you need to be monitored during physical activity.
It’s helpful to know some basics so you’re more informed when speaking with your doctor. Below are some important things to know about your heart rate.
How to measure heart rate
Measuring your heart rate is as simple as checking your pulse. You can find your pulse over your wrist or neck. Try measuring your radial artery pulse, which is felt over the lateral part your wrist, just below the thumb side of your hand.
To measure your heart rate, gently press the tips of your index and middle fingers over this blood vessel in your wrist. Make sure not to use your thumb, because it has its own pulse and may cause you to miscount. Count the beats you feel for a full minute.
You can also count for 30 seconds and multiply the count by two, or count for 10 seconds and multiply by six.
Alternatively, you can use a heart rate monitor, which determines your heart rate automatically. You can program it to tell you when you’re above or below your target range.
Start with resting heart rate
You should test your resting heart rate before measuring your training heart rate. The best time to test your resting heart rate is first thing in the morning, before you’ve gotten out of bed — ideally after a good night’s sleep.
Using the technique described above, determine your resting heart rate and record this number to share with your doctor. You might try checking your resting heart rate for a few days in a row to confirm that your measurement is accurate.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the average resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. However, this number may rise with age and is usually lower for people with higher physical fitness levels. The AHA notes that physically active people, such as athletes, may have a resting heart rate as low as 40 beats per minute.
Ideal heart rate for exercise
After you’ve gotten the hang of heart rate measurement, you can begin to calculate and monitor your target exercising heart rate.
If you’re using the manual method of heart rate measurement, you’ll need to stop exercising briefly to take your pulse.
If you’re using a heart rate monitor, you can continue your workout while keeping an eye on your monitor.
Your doctor can help determine the best target heart rate for you, or you can use general target zone guidelines to determine your target exercise heart rate based on your age.
According to the AHA, moderate-intensity workouts should be closer to the lower end of the target heart rate range that correlates with your age. Within the higher end of the range is the target heart rate for high-intensity, vigorous workouts.
The target heart rate zones noted below are based on what is equal to 50 to 85 percent of the average maximum heart rate for each stated age, and the average maximum heart rate is based on the calculation of 220 minus years of age.
Please be aware that the American Heart Association states that these figures are averages to be used as a general guide. If you feel this guide doesn’t fit your personal exercise heart rate target for moderate or vigorous exercise, your doctor will be able to work with you on an individual basis to help determine the target heart rate range that is best for you.
|Target heart rate zone||Average maximum heart rate|
|25 years||100 to 170 beats per minute||220 beats per minute|
|30 years||95 to 162 beats per minute||190 beats per minute|
|35 years||93 to 157 beats per minute||185 beats per minute|
|40 years||90 to 153 beats per minute||180 beats per minute|
|45 years||88 to 149 beats per minute||175 beats per minute|
|50 years||85 to 145 beats per minute||170 beats per minute|
|55 years||83 to 140 beats per minute||165 beats per minute|
|60 years||80 to 136 beats per minute||160 beats per minute|
|65 years||78 to 132 beats per minute||155 beats per minute|
|70 years and up||75 to 128 beats per minute||150 beats per minute|
Note that certain medications that are taken to reduce blood pressure can also lower your resting and maximum heart rates, with the latter affecting your calculation for target zone rate. If you’re taking medication therapy for a heart or other cardiovascular condition, ask your doctor whether you should use a lower target heart rate zone for exercising.
Adjusting your activity level
Once you’ve determined your ideal heart rate for exercise, it’s important to use this information to help keep the intensity level of your workouts in check.
Slow down your pace and effort level if your heart rate during activity is higher than it should be based on your doctor’s instructions and the guidelines above. If it’s lower that it should be, work harder to ensure that you’re getting the benefits of the exercise.
Start slowly during the first few weeks of working out, aiming for the lower end of your target zone. You can then build up gradually to the higher end of your target zone.
With a little practice and guidance from your healthcare team, you’ll soon be able to make the most of your exercise routine by measuring your ideal heart rate.
If you’re not sure where to start, check out these videos of great workouts under 20 minutes.
And an increase in the rate for men in their 50s is associated with a heightened risk of heart disease over the next 11 years, the findings show.
Resting heart rate-the number of heart beats per minute when the body is at rest-usually changes with age, with lower rates indicative of better cardiovascular fitness and more efficient heart function. A resting heart rate of 50 to 100 beats per minute (bpm) is considered to lie within the normal range.
The researchers wanted to find out what impact a resting heart rate at the higher end of the normal range might have on long term health and risk of early death (before the age of 75), and if changes in the rate over time might be important.
They studied a randomly selected group of men aged 50+ from the general population, all of whom had been born in 1943 in Gothenburg, Sweden.
In 1993, 798 out of a total of 1450 filled in questionnaires on lifestyle, family history of cardiovascular disease, and stress levels. And they were given a comprehensive medical check-up, which included their resting heart rate.
This was divided into four categories: 55 or fewer bpm; 56-65 bpm; 66-75 bpm; and more than 75 bpm.
Resting heart rate was measured again in 2003 and 2014 among those who were still alive and willing to take part at these time points (654 and 536, respectively) to track any changes in rate between 1993 and 2003 and any treatment for, or deaths caused by, heart disease/stroke or anything else, up to 2014.
During the 21-year monitoring period, 119 (just under 15%) of the original 798 men died before their 71st birthday; 237 (nearly 28%) developed cardiovascular disease; and 113 (just over 14%) developed coronary heart disease.
Men whose resting heart rate in 1993 was higher than 55 bpm were more likely to be smokers, less physically active, and more stressed than those whose rate was lower.
They were also more likely to have other cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as higher blood pressure and weight.
But a resting heart rate of 75+ bpm in 1993 was nevertheless associated with around a twofold higher risk of death from any cause, from cardiovascular disease, and from coronary heart disease, compared with a resting heart rate of 55 or below.
And a resting heart rate that was stable between 1993 and 2003, when the men were aged 50 to 60, was associated with a 44 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease over the next 11 years compared with a resting heart rate that had increased over this period.
What’s more, every additional beat increase in rate was associated with a 3 per cent higher risk of death from any cause, a 1 per cent higher risk of cardiovascular disease, and a 2 per cent higher risk of coronary heart disease.
This is an observational study, and as such, can’t establish cause, added to which the research was restricted only to men, and the age of the participants may itself have been an influential factor, note the researchers.
But the findings have clinical implications, they suggest, in that monitoring changes in resting heart rate over time may be important for uncovering future cardiovascular disease risk.
Target Heart Rate Calculator
The medically-based Karvonen formula below is the most precise method to calculate target heart rate because it takes into account your resting heart rate.
Your Average Resting
YOUR MAXIMUM HEART RATE:
YOUR IDEAL TARGET HEART RATE:
Calculate Your Average Resting Heart Rate
- Find your pulse with your fingers, not your thumb, while lying in bed before you get up in the morning.
- Count your pulse for 15 seconds and multiply by four, or 30 seconds and multiply by two. Example: If you count 32 beats in 30 seconds, your resting heart rate is 64 BPM (32 x 2).
- Record your heart rate for five days.
- Add the five days’ resting heart rates together and divide by five to find your average resting heart rate.
Your Desired Percent Effort
40-50% — Beginner Exerciser
50-60% — Intermediate Exerciser
60-70% — Advanced Intermediate Exerciser
70-85% — Advanced Exerciser
Heart Rate Training Zones
Your heart rate training zone is a critical element in exercise. You must train at a variety of different heart rates in order to stimulate your body to improve your fitness level. Taking your pulse and calculating your heart rate during a workout is one of the primary indicators in ascertaining the intensity level at which you and your heart is working.
Zone 1 – Healthy Heart Zone: 50% – 60% of your Max Hr
Easiest, Most Comfortable Zone
Exercise Benefits: Body fat decreases, blood pressure lowered, cholesterol lowered, muscle mass improvements, decreased risk for degenerative diseases, safety high.
Zone 2 – Temperate Zone: 60% – 70% of your Max Hr
Cruise Zone – you can train for extended periods of time in this zone 75% – 85% of all calories from fat as fuel, 6 – 10 calories per minute
Exercise Benefits: Gain muscle mass, lose fat mass, strengthen heart muscle, fat utilization zone, training your fat mobilization, fat transportation, your muscles to burn fat, your fat cells to increase the rate of fat release, increase in the number of mitochondria in the muscle.
Zone 3 – Aerobic Zone: 70% – 80% of your Max Hr
Transition Zone – from two health zones to two performance zones still feels comfortable, you will break a sweat, but no anaerobic burn sensation
Exercise Benefits: Improved overall functional capacity with increase in the number and size of blood vessels, increased vital capacity, respiratory rate, max pulmonary ventilation, pulmonary diffusion, increase in size and strength of the heart, improvements in cardiac output and stroke volume.
Zone 4 – Threshold Zone: 80% – 90% of your Max Hr
Max Calorie Burn Zone
Exercise Benefits: Max fat burn, but you must be fit enough to train with some oxygen present for additional fat burn. No fat burning if exercising above fat burning heart rate. High total calories. burned during exercise, high carbohydrates as source of calories. Improved VO 2 and higher lactate tolerance.
Zone 5 – Performance Redline Zone: 90% – 100% of your Max Hr
Peak Race Zone – Athlete Only Zone!
Exercise Benefits: Highest total calories burned, but lowest percentage of fat calories. Lactate tolerance zone. This zone is only for the very healthy and fit!!! Spending too much time in this zone, even for elite athletes can be painful, cause injuries and lead to over training, which leads to poor performance!
Heart rate, also known as pulse, is the number of times a person’s heart beats per minute. Normal heart rate varies from person to person, but a normal range for adults is 60 to 100 beats per minute, according to the Mayo Clinic.
However, a normal heart rate depends on the individual, age, body size, heart conditions, whether the person is sitting or moving, medication use and even air temperature. Emotions can affect heart rate; for example, getting excited or scared can increase the heart rate.
Most importantly, getting fitter lowers the heart rate, by making heart muscles work more efficiently. A well-trained athlete may have a resting heart rate of 40 to 60 beats per minute, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
“Your heart is a muscle and just like strengthening other muscles by doing activities, you can do the same thing with your heart,” said Dr. Mary Ann Bauman, an internist at Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City.
Knowledge about your heart rate can help you monitor your fitness level, and it may help you spot developing health problems if you are experiencing other symptoms.
Blood pressure vs. heart rate
Some people confuse high blood pressure with a high heart rate. Blood pressure is the measurement of the force of the blood against the walls of arteries, while pulse rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute.
There is no direct correlation between the two, and high blood pressure, or hypertension, does not necessarily result in a high pulse rate, and vice versa. Heart rate goes up during strenuous activity, but a vigorous workout may only modestly increase blood pressure.
How to measure heart rate
The easiest places to measure your heart rate, according to the AHA, are:
- inside of an elbow
- side of the neck
- top of the foot
For an accurate reading, put two fingers over one of these areas and count the number of beats in 60 seconds. You can also do this for 20 seconds and multiply by three, which may be easier, Bauman said. Using your thumb may be confusing because sometimes you can feel a pulse in the thumb, she said.
Resting heart rate
Your resting heart rate is your pulse when you are calmly sitting or lying. It’s best to measure your resting heart rate it in the morning before you get out of bed, according to the AHA. For adults 18 and older, a normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm), depending on the person’s physical condition and age. For children ages 6 to 15, the normal resting heart rate is between 70 and 100 bpm, according to the AHA.
But a heart rate lower than 60 doesn’t necessarily mean you have a medical problem. Active people often have lower heart rates because their heart muscles don’t need to work as hard to maintain a steady beat. Athletes and people who are very fit can have resting heat rate of 40 bpm.
A resting heart rate lower than 60 could also be the result of taking certain medications. “Many medications people take especially medication for blood pressure, such as the beta blockers, will lower your heart rate,” Bauman said.
If coupled with symptoms, a low heart rate may signal a problem.
“A low heart rate in somebody who is having dizziness and lightheadedness may indicate that they have an abnormality that needs to be looked at,” Bauman said.
Maximum and target heart rate
There is no definitive medical advice on when a resting heart rate is too high, but most medical experts agree that a consistent heart rate in the upper levels can put too much stress on the heart and other organs. If a person has a high heart rate at rest and is experiencing other symptoms, doctors may examine his or her heart function, Bauman said.
Knowing your heart rate during workout sessions can help know whether you are doing too much or not enough, the AHA says. When people exercise in their “target heart zone,” they gain the most benefits and improve their heart’s health. When your heart rate is in the target zone you know “you are pushing the muscle to get stronger,” Bauman said.
A person’s target heart rate zone is between 50 percent and 85 percent of his or her maximum heart rate, according to the AHA.
Most commonly, maximum heart rate is calculated by subtracting your age from 220. For a 30-year-old person, for example: 220 – 30 = 190.
The target zone for a 30-year-old person would be between 50 and 85 percent of his or her maximum heart rate:
- 50 percent: 190 x 0.50 = 95 bpm
- 85 percent: 190 x 0.85 = 162 bpm
For a 60-year-old person, the target zone would be between 80 and 136 bpm.
You can either manually calculate your heart rate during exercise or use heart rate monitors that wrap around the chest, or are included in sports watches.
However, that’s not to say that exercising without getting the heart rate up to the target zone has no benefit, Bauman said.
“So many people just aren’t doing any exercise that I worry less about them reaching their target heart rate and more about them getting out and moving their body,” Bauman said.
Lowering a rapid heart rate
Pulse rates can spike due to nervousness, stress, dehydration and overexertion. Sitting down and taking slow, deep breaths can generally lower your heart rate. Exercising and getting fitter will usually lower heart rate, too.
Cooling down after a workout is important, according to the AHA. Because your heart is beating faster, your body temperature is higher and your blood vessels are dilated, stopping too fast could make you feel sick or even pass out.
The AHA recommends stretching and walking. Stretching helps reduce the buildup of lactic acid, which cause cramps and stiff muscles. Follow these tips:
- Walk for about 5 minutes, or until your heart rate gets below 120 beats per minute.
- Stretch, and hold each stretch 10 to 30 seconds. If you feel you need more, stretch the other side and return for another set of stretching.
- The stretch should be strong, but not painful.
- Do not bounce.
- Breathe while you’re stretching. Exhale as you stretch, inhale while holding the stretch.
Arrhythmia, tachycardia and other conditions
A number of conditions can affect your heart rate. An arrhythmia causes the heart to beat too fast, too slow or with an irregular rhythm.
Tachycardia is generally considered to be a resting heart rate of over 100 bpm, according to the National Institutes of Health, and generally caused when electrical signals in the heart’s upper chambers fire abnormally. If the heart rate is closer to 150 bpm or higher, it is a condition known as supraventricular tachycardia (SVT). In SVT, your heart’s electrical system, which controls the heart rate, is out of whack. This generally requires medical attention.
Bradycardia, on the other hand, is a condition where the heart rate is too low, typically less than 60 bpm. This can be the result of problems with the sinoatrial node, which acts as the pacemaker, or damage to the heart as a result of a heart attack or cardiovascular disease.
Additional reporting by Kim Ann Zimmermann, Live Science contributor.
Editor’s note: This article was updated on Jan. 12, 2018, to clarify what the target zone for the maximum heart rate is for a 60-year-old person.
- NIH: Ventricular Tachycardia
- Mayo Clinic: Heart Rate: What’s Normal?
- American Heart Association: All About Heart Rate
Feel the beat of heart rate training
Knowing your heart rate zone reminds you to maintain a proper level of exercise intensity.
Published: December, 2017
Image: © ninikas/Thinkstock
Are you working hard during exercise — or hardly working?
Guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. But “moderate intensity” can vary per person. What is an effort to one person can be easy to another.
A good way to maintain your level of moderate intensity is with heart rate training, where you exercise at 60% to 75% of your maximum heart rate. This is your cardio Goldilocks zone where the intensity is not too hard or too light, but just right.
“Heart rate training can give you an ongoing reminder of your intensity and tell you when you need to pick up the pace or slow down,” says Dr. Aaron Baggish, director of the Cardiovascular Performance Program at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. “This way you can stay within your moderate-intensity zone as much as possible.”
Getting into the zone
What is your moderate-intensity zone? First, you need to know your maximum heart rate — the upper limit of what your cardiovascular system can handle during physical activity — as measured in number of heartbeats per minute.
One way to find your maximum heart rate is with a stress test, in which you walk or jog on a treadmill that makes you, and thus your heart, work progressively harder while an electrocardiograph monitors your heart’s electrical rhythms.
While this is the most accurate way to determine your maximum heart rate, a simpler option is to use a formula based on your age, which can offer a good estimate. Dr. Baggish suggests 200 minus half your age. Once you know your maximum, you can figure your target zone as 60% to 75% of that number. For example, a 70-year-old man would have a maximum heart rate of 165 beats per minute. Therefore, his moderate-intensity heart rate zone would range from 99 to 124 beats per minute.
Heart rate workouts
After you determine your target heart rate zone, your workouts should break down like this, according to Dr. Baggish:
a five-minute warm-up to gradually raise your heart rate to at least 60% of your maximum
30 minutes of exercising within your target zone
a five-minute cool-down to lower your heart rate to normal.
It’s also a good idea to stay in the low end (60%) of your target zone for a few weeks and build up to 75%. “Also, remember that if you’re not able to carry on a conversation at any time while exercising, the intensity may be too much, no matter what your optimal heart rate zone,” says Dr. Baggish.
If you have difficulty staying in your zone for 30 minutes, do intervals: Slow your pace for a few minutes, and then increase the intensity until you reach your target heart rate zone again.
Stay there for one to two minutes or longer, and then slow down again. Repeat the back-and-forth cycle for 30 minutes. “As your conditioning improves, you will be able to stay longer in your heart rate zone until eventually you can do the entire 30 minutes,” says Dr. Baggish.
Heart rate training is not for everyone. Talk with your doctor to determine if it is right for you.
Choosing a monitor
With heart rate training, you need to be able to monitor your heart rate at all times. “Forget the gym cardio machine monitors that measure your heart rate when you grab a sensor. They are notoriously inaccurate,” says Dr. Aaron Baggish of Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. Instead, opt for a commercial heart rate monitor. There are two types: a system that combines a chest strap and a wristwatch, or a fitness tracker that measures heart rate.
With the strap/watch combo, you wear a strap containing a transmitter around your chest with the transmitter placed near your heart. The transmitter picks up your heart rate and sends the data to a wrist receiver, which displays your heart rate. By contrast, the fitness trackers use optical sensors that detect light bouncing back from blood flow beneath the skin to measure your pulse.
Which is more accurate? Research published in the January 2017 JAMA Cardiology compared a strap/watch monitor with four popular fitness trackers and found the strap system was 99.6% accurate, while the fitness trackers’ accuracy ranged from 92% to 97%, and the trackers could be off by 15 to 34 beats per minute.
Some people may still prefer the simplicity of a fitness tracker, but keep in mind its possible limitations and make the necessary adjustments.
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
2.5 billion. No, it’s not how old the Earth is. It’s the average amount of times the heart beats in a lifetime, according to the American Heart Association.
Breaking it down even further, your heart beats 100,000 times every day, pumping about 2,000 gallons of blood.
Your heart rate dictates the exact number of times your heart beats per minute. And while your specific number for that might not be as familiar to you as, say, your blood pressure or your weight, it’s still pretty important. That’s because your resting heart tells a great deal about your heart muscle is functioning.
Your resting heart rate refers to the number of beats your heart pumps when you’re not exerting yourself—like when you’re relaxed, lying down, and calm. Your heart rate is typically lowest when sleeping or otherwise inactive and then increases with physical activity.
What Is a Normal Resting Heart Rate?
A normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute.
Having a heart rate in that sweet spot is important, because it decreases the demand of your heart muscle, meaning it doesn’t have to work as hard, explains Kate Traynor, M.S., R.N., director of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“Think of your heart as a car and your blood’s oxygen as the gas. The faster you drive, the more gas you use (the more blood that needs to be pumped). More gas means more work for the heart, which can put it in constant overdrive,” says Traynor.
8 Weird Facts You Never Knew About Your Heart:
What Is a Slow or Fast Heart Rate?
Heart rate that averages above 100 beats per minute is called tachycardia. You can develop a high heart rate because of things like fever, anemia, dehydration, or physical or emotional stress, which triggers the release of the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline.
“Adrenaline is like gasoline on a fire for heart rate,” says Traynor. It can also lead to bigger problems—everything from fainting spells to more serious issues like blood clots that lead to stroke, or eventual heart failure (Here’s how to know if you have a blood clot).
A 2010 study found that people with a resting heart rate at or above 84 beats per minutes over the span of five years were 55 percent more likely to die of heart disease than those with lower resting heart rates were.
On the other hand, a resting heart rate below 60 beats per minute is called bradycardia, and can cause insufficient blood flow to the brain.
“An abnormally low heart rate can lead to symptoms such as feeling tired, lightheaded, dizzy, and may even cause loss of consciousness,” says Suneet Mittal, M.D, FHRS, of the Heart Rhythm Society (Here’s what it means if you feel dizzy when you stand up).
You can develop a low resting heart if you take certain meds, like beta blockers for high blood pressure, or meds for hypothyroidism. Electrical abnormalities in the heart’s pathways can also lower your rate, too.
But a low rate resting heart isn’t always a bad thing. Endurance athletes—say, cyclists or runners—can have resting heart rates below 40 beats per minute.
So while there are exceptions—in some cases, too much intense athletic conditioning can cause “athlete’s heart,” where the heart is enlarged along with a low resting heart rate—it’s generally a good thing for your heart rate to skew lower rather than higher.
Without overdoing it, one of the best things you can do to maintain a healthy resting heart rate is exercise. You should be incorporating both cardio and weights into your routine, for a total of 150 minutes per week, says Traynor.
How Can You Find Out Your Resting Heart Rate?
Fitness trackers with heart rate monitors can be surprising accurate. A 2017 Stanford study found that six out of seven fitness trackers they tested were 95 percent accurate in measuring heart rate.
However, you shouldn’t always rely on technology to give you measurements.
“The best way to determine your resting heart rate is to learn to take your pulse,” says Dr. Mittal. “This can be taken by palpating the pulse at your wrist or neck.”
Here’s how to do it: Place your index and third fingers on your neck to the side of your windpipe. If you want to check it at your wrist, place two fingers between the bone and the tendon, looking for your radial artery—which is located on the thumb side of your wrist.
Once you find your pulse, count the number of beats in 15 seconds, then multiply that number by 4 to calculate your beats a minute, according to the Mayo Clinic.
While your heart rate may vary, it’s important to keep a healthy base rate. Once you know what that is for your body, keep tabs. If you start to notice changes with your heart rate, you should check in with you primary care doctor, especially if you notice it consistently dipping way below your normal resting heart rate, or frequent episodes of unexplained fast beating.
“If you’re a regular exerciser, but start to notice your routine takes more effort, or if you’re breathless or more tired than normal during your workout, it’s time to see a doctor,” says Traynor.
Plus, a sudden change in heart rate—either becoming too slow to too fast—should raise concern, too, Dr. Mittal says. Call your doctor to get checked out (For more health news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our Daily Dose newsletter).
Emily Shiffer Emily Shiffer is a former digital web producer for Men’s Health and Prevention, and is currently a freelancer writer specializing in health, weight loss, and fitness.
What Your Resting Heart Rate Says About You
If you want to know more about your cardiovascular health, we’ve got one big question for you: Do you know what your resting heart rate is?
Your resting heart rate can tell you a lot about your cardiovascular health — and while some of what it says may seem scary at first, don’t worry! There are ways to improve your cardiovascular health. At Tri-City Medical Center, we see patients with high resting heart rates lower theirs to healthier levels all the time.
Here’s a little background on just what your heart might be trying to tell you.
What Do My Heart Rate Numbers Mean?
Your resting heart rate is the number of times your heart beats each minute when you’re not active. The normal range is between 50 and 100 beats per minute. If your resting heart rate is above 100, it’s called tachycardia; below 60, and it’s called bradycardia. Increasingly, experts pin an ideal resting heart rate at between 50 to 70 beats per minute.
If you want to find out your resting heart rate, pick a time when you’re not active, find your pulse, count how many times it beats in 30 seconds, and then double that number. You may want to check it several times throughout the day, or over a week, to average out the number and to look for any irregularities.
Resting heart rates can change from person to person and throughout the day, influenced by everything from your mood to your environment. It rises when you’re excited or anxious, and sometimes in response to smoking cigarettes or drinking coffee. More athletic people tend to have lower heart rates.
What Your Heart Rate Says About Your Cardiovascular Health
Your heart is responsible for pumping blood and oxygen throughout your body and if you’re having heart troubles, the rest of your body will be impacted too.
A higher resting heart rate can be dangerous because it taxes the heart, making it work harder. This is linked to a higher risk of heart disease and death, just like high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Resting heart rates that near or exceed 100 should be brought to the attention of your doctor.
That said, a heart rate that’s too low is risky as well. This is less because a low heart rate is likely to cause any issues than because it can indicate underlying illness like an underactive thyroid, Lyme disease, or even a heart attack.
Your resting heart rate’s pace and regularity can provide information about your cardiovascular health. If you find the beats are not regular and you suffer from fatigue, dizziness, confusion, or can’t exercise, it could mean something more serious is going on.
How Can You Improve — or Lower — Your Heart Rate?
There are several ways you can lower your resting heart rate to a healthier level and minimize the risk it poses.
Athletes have lower heart rates because exercise is proven to lower heart rates. And you don’t have to run a marathon to see results — incorporating 30 minutes of walking or another low-impact exercise into your daily routine is a good place to start. Take it slow and find out what works for you, and make sure to exercise with care, and only after consulting your doctor.
Relaxation techniques can also help. If you’ve ever had an interest in yoga or meditation, now is the time to try it out. Experts say relaxation techniques are effective at lowering high resting heart rates. This is especially true when the high rate is associated with high anxiety, because relaxation tends to address the root cause of the higher heart rate.
Finally, medication is always an option when you need to lower your resting heart rate. To have an elevated rate for an extended or even short period of time is hard on your heart. If you’re worried, talk to your doctor about the right medication to bring your rate down to healthier levels, and work on finding the cause and alternative solutions after your heart rate is better controlled.
Ultimately, finding the cause of a high resting heart rate with the help of your doctor or medical team is the first step in preventing, combating, and managing unhealthy rates. Don’t delay — schedule a heart health screening appointment with Tri-City Medical Center today and find out everything you need to know about your cardiovascular health.
SCHEDULE A HEART HEALTH SCREENING