Your resting heart rate (RHR) can give you a quick and easy insight into your health. Your RHR is the number of beats per minute your heart takes when your body is at rest. For most adults, this number is between 60 and 100 beats per minute, and this number can provide strong insight into your health.
To take your RHR, you can use apps like Instant Heart Rate and Argus, or easily measure it yourself by taking your pulse. To take your pulse, place your first and second finger at either the pulse point in your neck or at your wrist. Your carotid artery pulse point, in your neck, can be found on either side of your wind pipe beneath your chin. Your radial pulse can be found at the base of your thumb inside your wrist. Press slightly between the bone and tendon. Once you feel your pulse in either location, count the number of beats you feel in 30 seconds and then multiple by two to get your RHR.
Aim to measure your RHR in the morning before you get out of bed and then again at varying times of the day, several times per week to get a broader picture of your heart rate. Avoid measuring for an hour or two after vigorous physical activity, caffeine consumption, or stressful situations, all of which can raise your heart rate.
Medications, including blood pressure medications and antidepressants can also affect your heart rate, so be sure to speak to your doctor about these possible side effects.
Your RHR can serve as an indicator of your cardiovascular health. Studies have shown that those who engage in lower levels of physical activity often have higher RHRs than their more athletic peers, and while the healthy range is between 60 and 100 beats per minute, a rate at the higher end of the range can signal an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease or premature death. In fact, an average RHR of 81 to 90 beats per minute makes an individual twice as likely to die prematurely. Resting heart rates higher than 90 beats per minute triple the risk.
While a lower RHR can indicate a high level of athletic ability and health, it can also cause dizziness and fatigue, so be sure to check with your doctor frequently. Likewise, if you find your RHR is often high, speak with your doctor.
You can also help lower your RHR to a healthier rate through changes to diet and physical activity. Aim to keep your cholesterol levels in check as high blood cholesterol levels can force your heart to work harder (and beat faster) to pump blood throughout your body. Regular aerobic (cardiovascular) activity can also help lower your RHR.
Just one hour of of high-intensity aerobic activity per week can help lower your RHR, and has been shown to be slightly more efficient in lowering RHR than low intensity exercise.
Your RHR is a great indicator of heart health and an easy way to map your overall progress toward better health. It’s an easy addition to other measurements you may already be taking to monitor your progress, and can help you know your risk of cardiovascular complications.
Sara Vallejo is a self-confessed happiness, health and self-development junkie from Chicago. She writes professionally in a business development and marketing capacity, and as a volunteer for a digital nonprofit. Miss Vallejo is a passionate mental and holistic health advocate who believes that good health is an ongoing journey best undertaken with supportive peers. Sara’s areas of expertise include nutrition, weight loss, women’s health, mental health and disability issues. She is returning to weight loss and fitness following orthopedic surgery and is excited to encourage and inspire fellow Azumio community members and readers to achieve the best health they can.
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