If you want to know more about heart health, your Resting Heart Rate can tell you a lot! As we all know, our heart is responsible for providing blood and oxygen to each and every organ in the body and if there is any trouble in the heart, automatically the rest of the body will be impacted too.
What is Resting Heart Rate?
Resting heart rate (RHR) is known as your base or lowest heart rate. It can be defined as the number of times your heart beats per minute while you’re resting or not active. The normal resting heart rate reading should be in between 60 to 100 beats per minute (BPM). The term use for a heart rate below 60 bpm is called Bradycardia while a heart rate above 100 bpm is called Tachycardia. Usually, children tend to have a higher heart rate than adults. It is because of their faster metabolism. For a newborn, resting heart rate around 100 to 150 bpm is considered normal.
How Can You Measure It?
Measuring heart rate is the same as checking your pulse. Currently, there are different ways to measure it – you can even measure it using your fitness tracker or band. You can also use the ancient method wherein, you 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. Remember not to use your thumb to take this measurement as it has its own pulse so you might not get the accurate measurement. Use a watch to count the number of beats for 30 seconds and double it so you will get the reading for per minute. Repeat it twice or thrice to make sure you get the accurate measurements.
To get the proper readings, it is advised to check your resting heart rate as soon as you wake up before carrying out any other work or activity.
Factors That Affect RHR
Daily activities such as walking or drinking a cup of coffee, medications, hormones, body size, stress and activity level can change your resting heart rate. Some major factors include:
- Lack of sleep
- Health conditions, lung disease and diabetes
- Some medications like Beta blockers & calcium channels
Generally, lower heart rates are considered better as it shows your heart is working well with no extra effort. On the other side, a higher resting heart rate shows your heart has to work extra hard to pump blood.
Ways to Improve or Lower Heart Rate
- One of the reasons for increased RHR as one ages, is the lack of or less physical activity. As aging is a natural process, we can improve its impact on heart health by adding 30 minutes of walking or any other low impact exercise like cycling, swimming and dancing. Of course, your heart will beat fast during the activity and for a short time after that, but practicing it every day will automatically help in reducing your elevated resting heart rate.
- Guided breathing practices, yoga, tai chi, meditation, long walks and reading are all great ways to calm your mind and body, which will help in controlling your heart rate.
- Always try to get at least seven hours of sleep every night so your body gets sufficient time to recover from stress.
- Keeping yourself well hydrated helps blood flow through the body and makes the functioning of the heart easy as well.
- Those who smoke have a higher RHR. Quitting brings it back down.
- Keep a watch on body weight. The larger the body, the more the heart has to work to supply it with blood. Losing body weight helps in lowering elevated RHR.
It’s important to maintain an active lifestyle with regular aerobic exercise, a balanced diet, quality sleep and hydration. By measuring your resting heart rate regularly, you can see both your long-term progress and daily fluctuations in it. When your resting heart rate decreases as a result of training, it’s a sign that your cardiovascular health is improving.
We hope this article helps you make heart-healthy choices! Do let us know your thoughts in the comments below. For more on heart health, check out Healthy Reads or reach out to our certified experts by subscribing to GOQii’s Personalised Health Coaching here.