Many people are familiar with the terms “pulse” or “heart rate.” They refer to how many times your heart beats each minute. This number can vary from person to person, especially as you age.
Understanding what a healthy heart rate and heart rhythms are for your age and sex is essential. This knowledge is critical as you strive to stay in shape and be as healthy as possible.
When you’re not engaged in physical activity, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood throughout your body. This heart rate is known as your resting heart rate. But what should your normal resting heart rate be?
Normal Resting Heart Rate—Adults
As an adult, your resting heart rate shouldn’t be more than 60-100 bpm (beats per minute).
If you have a lower heart rate on the spectrum, it typically indicates that your heart functions more efficiently and you have a better grasp on cardio fitness. If that’s the case, ensure that you’ve found a suitable exercise regimen and balanced diet that keeps your heart healthy and helps to avoid heart disease, clogged arteries, and more.
What Factors Can Affect Your Heart Rate?
Several factors can affect your resting heart rate (RHR):
- Sex: Generally, a woman’s RHR will be between two to seven bpm higher than a man’s.
- Age: Your RHR can change as you get older, often slowing down with age.
- Temperature: When it’s hot outside, your RHR may be higher by as many as ten beats per minute.
- Emotional state: Feeling exceedingly happy, stressed, afraid, anxious, or another extreme emotion can increase RHR.
- Medications: There are certain medications, such as beta-blockers and antidepressants, that might lower your RHR.
- Body position: Your RHR can be up to three beats per minute higher when sitting down than it is when you lie down. It might also be higher when you’re standing up.
Normal Resting Heart Rate—Children
It is common for young children to have higher resting heart rates than adults. When you’re younger, a healthy heart rate looks much different and there is often no reason to be concerned about a child having a high heart rate. Here are the healthy ranges for a child’s heart rate:
|AGE||BEATS PER MINUTE|
|1-3 years old||80-130|
|3-5 years old||80-120|
|6-10 years old||70-110|
|11-14 years old||60-105|
However, there are some heart rate trends you should be aware of to ensure you stay within a healthy range.
Typically, a small cell cluster around your heart’s sinus node sends out electric signals. These signals go through the atria to your AV (atrioventricular) node into the ventricles, so they start contracting and pumping blood. Your heartbeat can be too fast, too slow, or irregular. Irregular heart rhythms are referred to as arrhythmia.
Fast Heart Rate
If you’re an adult and your heart rate is typically higher than 100 bpm, that’s called tachycardia. Several factors may cause you to consistently have an elevated heart rate, such as anemia, dehydration, fever, high levels of adrenaline, and more.
If you experience too much adrenaline regularly, it can lead to additional complications such as heart failure, stroke, fainting spells, blood clots, and more.
Other reasons that your heart rate can be consistently elevated include:
- Ingesting large amounts of caffeine
- Frequent binge drinking
- Mental health disorders that include high levels of stress and anxiety
Sometimes there’s no apparent explanation as to why someone’s heart rate is higher than average. Still, it’s wise to consult your primary care physician to determine if any lifestyle changes can help you lower your RHR to more efficient levels.
Slow Heart Rate
On the other end of the spectrum, having a heart rate consistently lower than 60 bpm is known as bradycardia. If you are diagnosed with this, you have to be careful that it doesn’t lead to inadequate blood flow to your brain.
If your RHR is strikingly low, you may experience lightheadedness, fatigue, dizziness, fainting, and more. Specific medical conditions such as having an underactive thyroid (also known as hypothyroidism) may slow heart rate.
Generally, certain prescription medications to treat high blood pressure, decongestants, and other stimulants may lower your heart rate.
There’s not always cause for concern when your heart rate is slow. Athletes and other young adults may consistently have an RHR of 40-60 bpm with no problems. A low heart rate while sleeping is also to be expected and doesn’t necessarily mean you have medical issues.
If you have severe bradycardia, a cardiologist may consider implanting a pacemaker to help your heart beat at a healthy rate.
How To Lower Your Heart Rate If It’s Too High
Regular exercise is a good way to lower a consistently elevated heart rate, assuming there’s no medical cause for it to happen. Working out will strengthen your heart, which in turn will make it able to pump more blood each time it beats.
A block of 150 minutes per week should be sufficient to strengthen the heart. A training program should include both aerobic exercises and exercises to build strength.
Changing certain habits can contribute to lowering your heart rate as well. They include smoking, drinking caffeine, having a stressful routine, and overeating.
How To Discover Your Resting Heart Rate
Be sure to maintain consistency when checking your pulse. You should relax for a few minutes before you try to get a reading. You’ll have to perform the pulse check for one full minute unless your primary care physician instructs you to do it another way.
- Turn your palm upward and locate the space between your tendon and the wrist bone. You should focus on the area near your thumb. When you read your radial pulse, you can do it on the left or right wrist.
- Position your third finger and index finger beside one another. You’ll use these fingers to check the pulse in the radial artery. It is standard procedure to use these two fingers specifically instead of your thumb. The thumb has its own pulse, which can be confusing.
- Don’t apply too much pressure, which could block your blood flow and get an inaccurate reading. If you press lightly, you’ll be able to feel a heartbeat.
- Take note of the second hand on a watch or clock as you count how many times you feel your pulse.
- Write your pulse down to record it for that day. Check your pulse at the same hour each day for the most accurate results.
- You can take your carotid pulse on either side of your neck, as long as you find your windpipe. You shouldn’t take your carotid pulse if you have any health problems that involve plaque in your arteries.
- Place your third finger and index finger on the windpipe.
- Don’t try to check both of your carotid arteries at the same time – pressing them simultaneously could cause you to experience adverse side effects. You may start feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or even faint. You want to press gently until you begin feeling your pulse. If you push too hard, you’ll halt the flow of blood.
- Get yourself a clock or a watch, observe the seconds on the clock, and count the number of times you feel your pulse within a minute.
- Record the rate of your pulse. Check your pulse at the same hour each day for the most accurate results.
How To Get the Most Accurate Heart Rate
To receive the most accurate pulse measurement, you’ll have to check your pulse three times and calculate the average of the three values.
To record an accurate resting heart rate measurement, follow these simple steps:
Refrain from measuring your heart rate within two hours of a stressful event or exercise activity. Your heart rate can stay elevated long after a strenuous event or activity.
If you’ve consumed caffeine recently, wait until a full hour after consumption before measuring your heart rate. Caffeine can elevate your heart rate and even cause heart palpitations. Avoid taking your heart rate after standing or even sitting for an extended period—this can affect your heart rate.
There are several kinds of heart rate monitors available to help you check your heart rate. However, remember that most of these devices have not undergone independent testing for accuracy.
We recommend using a digital tracker with a wireless sensor on a strap that wraps around your chest. The sensor is designed to measure your pulse and send the data to your wristwatch-style receiver, which displays your heart rate. These sensors measure blood flow through the skin. Though they send a slightly less accurate reading back to the receiver, this is still the top recommendation for overall best results.
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When Should You See A Doctor?
Call your doctor immediately if you’re taking medicine that causes dizziness or fainting spells as this may be a result of an abnormal heartbeat. Additionally, contact them if your heartbeat is abnormally low or fast. A doctor has many different options to help you regulate your heartbeat depending on the cause, such as recommending a pacemaker to get your heart beating correctly, changing your medication, or recommending additional alternative solutions for managing an irregular heart rhythms.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions, and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of Credihealth and the editor(s).
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