How Good Is Your “Resting Heart Rate”?
Let’s start with a quick question: How healthy is your heart? You don’t need expensive tests or consultations to give an answer. All you need are 30 seconds and two fingers to measure your Resting Heart Rate or RHR.
What’s Resting Heart Rate?
Your Resting Heart Rate indicates the rate at which your heart beats per minute while resting. It gives a clear indication of how well your heart works. So, what indicates a Normal Resting Heart Rate?
Generally, your heart does not regularly beat like a clock. A healthy heart slows down and speeds up to align with your body’s need for oxygen. When the body is resting, your heart pumps the lowest amount of blood to supply the necessary blood to your body. The heart rate during these “normal” resting times can be between sixty and a hundred beats/per minute.
Any RHR above hundred beats per minute is a red flag signaling:
- Cardiac stress
- Abnormalities with cardiac vitals
- Over-consumption of caffeine
- Unexposed cardiac illness
Tachycardia & Bradycardia
It is easy to understand why a low RHR is generally considered safer than a higher one. At the same time, a high RHR isn’t always an ominous sign. An elevated heart rate of more than hundred beats/ minute is called as Tachycardia.
Several factors can increase your heart rate, such as:
- Intake of certain medications
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Heavy smoking
- Excessive stress
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Low blood pressure
If your RHR is above 80, it is best to consult your doctor and have your cardiovascular health checked. Is that to say that an RHR below 60 indicates your heart is in good health?
Not likely. A low RHR below sixty beats/minute is termed Bradycardia. Some of the top reasons that cause a low heart rate are:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Heart muscle inflammation
- Imbalances in the blood
- Intake of certain medications
So, how will you know if you’ve got a high, low, or normal Resting Heart Rate? Checking your RHR is a relatively simple task. You can do it anywhere, at any time.
Measuring Your RHR: How to Do It?
Before knowing how to check your RHR, you ought to keep three aspects in mind:
- It is important to check your heart rate ONLY while you are at rest.
- Measure it at least one hour after exercise or a stressful event.
- The American Heart Association says that the best time to measure your pulse is just after you wake up, even before you leave your bed.
This digital age has blessed us with many fitness tracking devices that can accurately measure your heart rate. However, it doesn’t matter, even if you don’t have these gadgets. Here are the step-wise guidelines to check it manually.
1. There are many places on your body where you can feel your pulse, but these two spots are the easiest to identify:
- On your wrist (on the radial artery exactly on the line where you wear your watch).
- One either side of your neck (carotid artery) about a couple of inches below your ears.
2. Set your clock or timer for thirty seconds.
- Place your index and middle finger of one hand on either your neck or your wrist and press lightly to feel your pulse.
- Now start counting the number of beats for thirty seconds on the timer.
- Multiply the number of beats by two to get your RHR.
It is a good idea to repeat the process several times to ensure your results are consistent. If your RHR is not within the normal range, it is best to consult your doctor immediately.
The heart is a bundle of muscles with valves and arteries, allowing it to pump blood to every part of your body. Hence, like all other muscles, the heart responds to external changes in your environment and stress factors. However, not all of these stressors are harmful. While some stressors can strengthen your heart and bring your RHR back to normal, other stressors can adversely affect your RHR.
By knowing these harmful stressors, you can avoid them and keep your heart healthy.
7 Factors that Impact Your Resting Heart Rate
1. Your Age
Generally, Resting Heart Rate increases with age. A newborn’s heart beats at 100 to 205 beats per minute (BPM). Adults above 18 will have an RHR of 60 to 100 bpm. When your heart rate falls out of this range, it signals an underlying problem.
2. Your Sex
Did you know that women's hearts are lower than men's? Since a woman’s heart has fewer cardiac muscles than a man’s, it pumps a lesser volume of blood than a man’s. To compensate for this lower blood volume, women’s hearts beat faster to accommodate blood circulation. Hence, by nature, the RHR for adult males is between 70-72 bpm and 78-82 bpm for women.
3. Your Sleep Patterns
Doctors repeatedly emphasize regularizing one’s sleep patterns for many reasons. One of the main reasons is that a regular sleep schedule has a significantly positive effect on your RHR. Recent studies have shown that delaying your sleep schedule by thirty minutes elevates your RHR during sleep. So, imagine what a night in front of your TV can do to your RHR!
4. Your Hydration
Whenever you forget or avoid drinking water, your heart is forced to work harder to circulate blood. This extra stress can elevate your resting heart rate. Water is like fuel for your heart, which is why ample hydration is a must.
5. Your Food Intake
It is no secret that fatty, fried foods and the heart are always at crossroads with each other. Fortunately, eating fatty fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids lowers RHR and prevents cardiovascular diseases.
6. Your Physical Fitness
An easy way to know your fitness level is to assess your heart rate. The more fit you are, the lower your RHR will be. Some really fit athletes have been shown to clock RHR as low as 30, proving that a fitter body has a normal RHR.
7. Your Alcohol Consumption Levels
Regular consumption of alcohol automatically elevates the heart rate.
How many of these stressors do you relate to? If you tick more than two of them, it is high time you make efforts to lower your RHR.
That said, having an elevated RHR due to genetic factors is something you cannot control. Therefore, let’s check out those factors that you can control to maintain your RHR.
Simple Tips to Maintain a Healthy RHR
1. Exercise Everyday.
Did you know that regular exercise can actually bring your RHR by 10-12 beats per minute? Consistent weekly workouts can decrease your RHR by up to one moment per minute. So, it is not too late to start exercising.
2. Stop Stressing
Life isn’t easy, but you cannot let your poor heart bear the brunt of all that stress. Instead, take up stress-relieving techniques like yoga or meditation. Limit your intake of beverages and get your beauty sleep.
3. Quit Smoking & Binge Drinking
Firstly, there’s no debating if cigarettes are good or bad for your body. They make no contribution to your good health and happiness whatsoever. Besides, nicotine only increases your RHR and paves the way for many cardiovascular diseases. So, quit smoking.
Secondly, be a responsible drinker. Having more than four drinks per day can elevate your RHR.
4. Mind your Medication
Even simple over-the-counter medicines for cough, cold, weight loss, etc., can elevate your RHR. Similarly, other medications like beta blockers can bring your RHR down to lower-than-normal levels. Therefore, always review your medications with a doctor before taking them.
Use REAN HealthGuru App to Track Your RHR
In today’s digital age, having a digital solution like the REAN HealthGuru app is a blessing for many people who want to keep track of their health from the comfort of their homes. Our app is built entirely to measure your heart rate, analyze your beats per minute, and give workout suggestions to improve your cardiac health. To learn more about the REAN HealthGuru app, click here.
Better Care = Healthier Heart
Your heart works every minute of your life until you die. It is an organ that deserves special care. To maintain a healthy RHR, quit your sedentary lifestyle today and work out regularly. Remember, A happy heart is a healthy heart!