Resting Heart Rate

heart-rateWhat is heart rate? Heart rate or pulse is the measurement of your heart beat per minute. It refers to how many times your heart contracts and rests in a minute. In a medical point of view, heart rate and pulse is technically different, though most of the time you will get the same result if you check both. According to Medilexicon’s medical dictionary, Heart beat is defined as a complete cardiac cycle, including spread of the electrical impulse and the consequent mechanical contraction.” and Pulse is defined as the “Rhythmic dilation of an artery, produced by the increased volume of blood thrown into the vessel by the contraction of the heart. A pulse may also at times occur in a vein or a vascular organ, such as the liver.” In some cases, like for example in certain heart conditions, a person might produce a contraction in the absence of a palpable pulse.

For most people, each contraction generates a pulse. Therefore, in the absence of heart rate monitors, counting pulse per minute is an effective and reliable way of checking your heart rate.

How important is heart rate monitoring then? Your heart rate is a good indicator of your fitness level. Heart rate monitoring gives you an idea of how your body reacts to exercise and in turn helps you to determine and control the intensity of your workout. Most of the people who enrolled themselves in workout programs are well aware that heart rate monitoring is important, but only few know why. If you’re planning to start on any exercise routines, it is best to understand first the concept of monitoring your heart rate.

Then what about the resting heart rate? Is it of any significance?

Resting heart rate is an excellent basis of your overall health. Monitoring may help to identify a number of conditions affecting your health. It is also a good indicator of a cardiovascular disease and risks associated with abnormal heart rate. If you’re currently active on a training program, it may be a warning sign for overtraining.

Points to consider:

  1. It is best to check your heart rate in the morning shortly after waking up. It is at this time that our body and mind is at its most relaxed state.
  2. Avoid stimulants. Smoking and caffeine is a no-no.
  3. Avoid drugs affecting heart rate before taking records.
  4. Take at least 1 full minute each day for a few days to get an average.
  5. Take measurements in the same position if possible (lying/sitting/standing) as this may affect reading.

Normal range varies with age, a normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60-100 beats per minute. Without any underlying health condition, a lower heart rate generally implies a more efficient heart function and cardiovascular fitness. So a well-trained athlete might have a resting heart rate around 40 bpm. Monitoring your resting heart rate can therefore help you gauge your progress.

If you found out that your resting heart rate is unusually high or low, or fluctuating without any apparent reason, it is always best to consult your doctor. A little precaution won’t hurt, at the end it is your safety that matters most.