What’s one of the simplest and best measures of your health?
Your resting heart rate, or RHR.
Your RHR is how fast your heart beats when you’re relaxed. Check the resting heart rate chart below to see how you compare to your age group.
Can you lower your resting heart rate to live longer and reduce your risk of serious diseases?
Yes, and it’s easier than you think.
Keep reading to learn how to slow your pulse.You have a maximum number of heartbeats, learn how to slow down and make them count.
What Is a Good Resting Heart Rate By Age?
A healthy resting heart rate is about 60 beats per minute, but this number varies with age. The normal range for a resting heart rate is between 60 bpm and 100 bpm. Well-conditioned athletes, however, could have a resting heart rate of around 40 bpm.
If having a low resting heart is key for health and longevity, how can you lower your resting heart rate naturally?
Table of Contents
- Resting Heart Rate Chart By Age
- What Is Resting Heart Rate?
- How to Measure Resting Heart Rate
- What is a Normal Resting Heart Rate?
- What is A Dangerous Resting Heart Rate?
- What Affects Your Resting Heart Rate?
- Does Your Heart Have a Maximum Number of Beats?
- If you slow your resting heart rate can you slow down aging?
- What is a Healthy Resting Heart Rate? What is optimal?
- How to Lower Resting Heart Rate
- Legs up the wall to reduce RHR
- High-Intensity Interval Training to Lower RHR
Resting Heart Rate Chart By Age And Gender
A resting heart rate chart shows the normal range for resting heart rate by age and physical condition. Athletes, those who are physically active, tend to have a lower RHR than those who are less active.
The average heart rate generally increases with age. But many factors determine your heart rate at any moment. These factors include the time of day, your activity level, and your stress level.
What Is Resting Heart Rate?
Your resting heart rate (RHR) is how many times your heart beats in one minute while you’re at rest. It’s both a gauge of your heart health and a biomarker of aging.
RHR changes as you age and varies from person to person. It’s important to know your RHR as it can help you assess your heart health over time. Being aware of changes in your RHR can help you uncover a heart condition early.
Resting Heart Rate Versus HRV and Blood Pressure
Resting heart rate, heart rate variability, and blood pressure are all important measures of heart health.
- Resting heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute.
- Heart rate variability (HRV) is a measure of the variation in the time between consecutive heartbeats.
- Blood pressure is the force of blood flowing through your blood vessels (1).
How to Measure Resting Heart Rate
- Wait until you’re relaxed. If you’ve just finished exercising or you’re stressed, your pulse rate will be elevated.
- To take your pulse, place your index finger and your middle finger on one of your pulse points.
- Count the number of heartbeats for 30 seconds, then multiply by two.
What is the ideal time to take a resting heart rate?
The best time to take your resting heart rate is when you wake up before you get out of bed. Check your RHR at the same time and in the same rested state every day to get an accurate reading.
You can also measure your heart rate (HR) right after exercise to track your maximum heart rate.
What Are the Best Places to Check Pulse?
The best places to check your heart rate are your wrist, the side of your neck, the inside of your elbow, and the top of your foot (2).
How to Check Your Pulse Video
Watch Emily Reeve, the Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, show you how to check your pulse.
Heart Rate Monitors
You can track your heart rate with a wrist monitor like the popular LETSCOM Fitness Tracker (see resources page for all recommendations).
Or, check out this detailed review of heart rate monitors to help you find the right one for you.
Heart rate monitors make it easier to track your heart rate consistently and learn which activities raise or lower your pulse the most.
What is a Normal Resting Heart Rate?
A normal resting heart rate for adults is (2) between 60 beats per minute (bpm) and 100 bpm. An abnormal pulse rate below 60 bpm or above 100 bpm could increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, or early death.
Normal Resting Heart Rate for Women
The normal resting heart rate for adult women is similar for men, between 60 bpm and 100 bpm. Age and activity level are more important factors for heart rate.
Studies show that having high resting heart rate increases (3) your risk even after controlling for other factors such as physical fitness, blood pressure, and lipid levels.
Is a resting heart rate of 80 bad? A bpm of 80 is still within the normal range, but over 90 can be dangerous.
One study tested the resting heart rate of about 3,000 men over 16 years. The study found that, after accounting for other risk factors, men with a resting heart rate over 90 bpm were three times more likely to die than the men with the lowest RHR.
Further, an increase in heart rate over time is associated with an increased (4) risk of death from heart disease and all-cause mortality.
Is A Low Resting Heart Rate Good Or Dangerous?
At the other extreme, one study found that having (5) a low resting heart rate is a risk factor for atrial fibrillation (AF) in athletes.
Having a heart rate below 60 bpm doesn’t mean that you’re not healthy. For example, a low RHR could be (2) the result of taking a drug such as a beta-blocker. Moreover, athletes generally have lower heart rates.
One reason active people have lower heart rates is that they have stronger and more efficient hearts. Their hearts don’t need to work as hard to circulate blood throughout the entire body.
What is A Dangerous Resting Heart Rate?
A resting heart rate can be dangerous if it is too fast, tachycardia, or too slow, bradycardia. Tachycardia is generally over 100 bpm and bradycardia is generally below 60 bpm (for non-athletes). A resting heart rate that is too fast or too slow could be the result of a more serious underlying health problem.
What Is Tachycardia?
Tachycardia is a resting heart rate that is too fast (6). It can be caused by congenital heart disease, poor circulation, anemia, hypertension, or injury to the heart, such as a heart attack (7). Tachycardia is also associated with a shorter life expectancy (8).
What Is Bradycardia?
Bradycardia is a slow resting heart rate (9). It can be caused by hypotension, congenital heart disease, damage to the heart (from heart disease, heart attack, or aging), chronic inflammation, or myocarditis (a heart infection).
If you have a resting heart rate that is too high or too low for an extended period of time, it can cause dangerous health conditions such as heart failure, blood clots, fainting, and sudden cardiac arrest.
if your resting heart rate is consistently above 100 bpm or below 60 bpm (if you are not an athlete), you should see your doctor or medical provider. Additionally, you should watch for symptoms such as fainting, shortness of breath, feeling dizzy or light-headed, chest pain, or feeling discomfort or fluttering in your chest.
What Affects Resting Heart Rate?
- Temperature: When temperature and humidity rise, your heart needs to pump more blood. Whereby your pulse may increase (2) up to 5 to 10 bpm.
- Body position: Your pulse is usually the same when you’re resting, whether you are sitting or standing. However, it may go up for a couple of minutes after you sit or stand.
- Emotions: Being stressed, excited, or upset can raise your pulse.
- Body Size: If you are obese your heart rate could be higher than average as your heart needs to work harder to circulate throughout your body.
- Medications: Drugs that block your adrenaline (beta-blockers) can slow (2) your heart rate. Conversely, high doses of thyroid medication can raise it.
- Water: Being dehydrated raises your RHR (10).
- Type 2 Diabetes is associated with resting heart rate (11).
Does your heart have a maximum number of beats?
The maximum number of lifetime heartbeats for humans is about 3 billion. But you won’t die when you reach a set number of heartbeats. Heartbeats, however, are a marker of your metabolic rate. The faster your metabolic rate (how fast you age), the shorter your lifespan.
The total number of heartbeats per lifetime is amazingly similar across all mammals. For example, a mouse has (12) a heart rate of 500 to 600 beats per minute but lives less than two years. At the other extreme, a Galápagos tortoise has a heart rate of about six beats per minute and has a life expectancy of 177 years.
Do the math and the heart of a mouse beats 100 times faster than that of a tortoise. But a tortoise lives 100 times longer than a mouse. Humans, however, have about 60 bpm and have about 3 billion heartbeats per lifetime.
Check out the free How many heartbeats in a lifetime calculator
If you slow your resting heart rate can you slow down aging?
Having a lower resting heart rate is associated with having a longer lifespan.
Athletes generally have a lower resting heart rate due to their physical fitness.
One study found that the more physically fit you are, the lower (13) the resting pulse. The same study found that even controlling for physical fitness, people with a higher resting heart rate had a shorter life expectancy compared to those with a lower resting heart rate.
So a high resting heart rate is not just a marker of risk, but a risk factor for premature death. The difference between a risk marker and a risk factor is that if you can control the risk factor, you can control the risk.
Why Is A High Resting Heart Rate Dangerous?
If your heart is beating fast 24 hours a day, all that circulatory stress can damage (14) the elastic fibers supporting your arterial walls causing them to become stiff. Your arteries do not have enough time to relax (15) between beats.
What Is A Healthy Heart Rate? What is optimal?
An optimal heart rate about one beat per second (16) at rest, or (60 bpm). Consequently, for every 10 beats per minute increase, there is a 10 to 20% increased risk of premature death.
There is strong evidence showing that everyone with a high heart rate is at risk (17), even otherwise healthy individuals. But there are ways that you can slow your heart rate naturally.
First, check your resting heart rate before you make any changes using the method in section 2. This reading will be your baseline number to track your progress and test which programs work for you. Secondly, record your heart rate after any changes you make.
How to Lower Resting Heart Rate
- Exercise raises your heart rate temporarily, but over time your body becomes more efficient and your resting heart rate lowers naturally.
- Stress Reduction through meditation and other stress management techniques like tai chi helps your body reach a deeper relaxed state, thereby lowering resting heart rate.
- Quit/Don’t Start Smoking: Smokers generally have higher resting heart rates, but quitting can bring it back to normal (18).
- Maintain a healthy weight: Your heart circulates blood throughout your body. The larger the body, the harder the heart must work. Losing weight reduces your body size and brings down your resting heart rate.
- Eat A Healthy Diet: A whole food plant-based diet lowers resting heart rate naturally, especially beans.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking water generally lowers RHR and activates your parasympathetic nervous system (10).
Exercise and Resting Heart Rate
One study put participants through a 12-week aerobic conditioning program of cycling, Stairmaster, and running on a treadmill. Participants dropped (19) their resting heart rate down from an average of 69 to 66, a 3 point drop. When they stopped the aerobic program, however, their resting heart rate went back to around 69 again.
It appears that you must continue exercising to keep your resting heart rate lower. What else can you do?
Foods That Lower Resting Heart Rate
People in the Blue Zones, areas where people live longer than average, eat plenty of beans. One reason beans are so healthy is that they can help lower your pulse.
In one study, participants were given a cup a day of beans, chickpeas, or lentils. Participants lowered (20) their resting heart rate from an average of 74.1 to 70.7, a 3.4 point drop. The change was similar to those in the other study who exercised for 250 hours!
You might consider eating beans regularly to keep your resting heart rate in a healthy range. Beans are also an excellent source of vegan protein.
Legs up the wall to reduce Resting Heart Rate
The legs up the wall pose (Viparita Karani) is a therapeutic yoga pose that helps your body and mind relax. To do the Viparita Karani pose:
- Find a comfortable spot near a wall. For example, you can use your bed if it is against the wall.
- Move your hips as close to the wall as you can.
- Slide your feet up the wall until your legs are parallel with the wall.
- Relax and inhale deeply and slowly through your nose and exhale slowly through your nose.
Try to stay in this pose for 5 minutes. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Even having your legs above your heart works if you are relaxed.
Viparita Karani improves circulation as gravity helps blood flow from your legs back to your heart. Because your heart doesn’t need to work as hard, your heart rate lowers.
How to Lower Your Heart Rate With Exercise
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a training method where you give 100% effort in a quick, intense burst of exercise, followed by a short resting period. HIIT increases your maximum heart rate and lowers your RHR.
HIIT is as simple as doing one exercise, like sprinting, as fast as you can safely run for 30 seconds, then resting for 90 seconds.
Warm-up first and start with one rep.
Rest for several days in between HIIT days. Build up slowly to a workout of several reps that only takes about 15 minutes. Then try adding new exercises.
For the best results, don’t set an arbitrary time. Instead, push yourself to your max. And then rest and recover until you are ready to give 100% again. For instance, give 100% effort for 15 seconds and rest for five minutes.
Learn more about the health benefits of HIIT and how to do it the right way in this short HIIT video from Thomas DeLauer.
How Long Does it Take to Lower Resting Heart Rate?
It takes about 12 weeks to lower your resting heart rate. Studies show that you can lower your resting heart rate with diet and exercise in 12 weeks.
A low resting heart rate means that your circulatory system is efficient. Diet and exercise will make your body more efficient by asking for more work from it.
Your body; however, needs time to adapt to the changes you make. These changes include enlarging your heart, increasing red blood cells, building more capillaries, and increasing mitochondria in your muscles.
Alternatively, you can lower your resting heart rate at any moment by slowing your breathing or with meditation. Practice breathing deeply and slowly and your resting heart rate will slow more quickly in response to stress or exercise.
How Will You Spend Your Heartbeats?
- Your resting heart rate appears to determine how long you live. And the things you do to lower your resting heart rate are good for your overall health.
- There’s at least one risk factor of having a very low RHR, but there seems to be a higher risk of overall disease at higher heart rates.
- Stress, physical or emotional, seems to be the most important factor in determining your heart rate.
- Exercise allows your body to adapt to stressful situations better. Additionally, it will enable your body to reach a deeper relaxed state as your heart muscle becomes stronger and your circulation becomes more efficient.
- How do you compare with your age group? I am in the athlete range, but I exercise regularly.
- If you are going to exercise, build up slowly so your body can adapt.
- I find the simplest exercises are the most effective. They’re the ones you can do at home every day without going to the gym.
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is one of the quickest and most effective workouts for resting heart rate, HRV, muscle building, and weight loss. Why not give it a try?
- You have a maximum number of lifetime heartbeats, use them well.
Keep Your Doctor Informed of Your Resting Heart Rate
This article is not meant to diagnose or treat you. It is intended to help you understand one aspect of your health, your resting heart rate. This article is based on scientific research, but science is continually changing. Thus, this information is subject to change.
Everyone is different and has unique circumstances. Consult with your doctor about any changes in your health, diet, and exercise.
Read my full medical disclaimer here.
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