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.
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. Physically active athletes tend to have a lower RHR than less active athletes.
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, activity, and stress level.
Normal Resting Heart Rate For Kids
|Newborns 0 to 1-month-old
|70 to 190 bpm
|Infants 1 to 11 months old
|80 to 160 bpm
|Children 1 to 2 years old
|80 to 130 bpm
|Children 3 to 4 years old
|80 to 120 bpm
|Children 5 to 6 years old
|75 to 115 bpm
|Children 10 years and older (and adults)
|60 to 100 bpm
Data from the National Institute of Health:
What Is Resting Heart Rate?
Your resting heart rate (RHR) is how many times your heart beats in one minute while resting. 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. Knowing your RHR is important 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.
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 40 bpm.
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) measures 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.
- Place your index finger and middle finger on one of your pulse points to take your pulse.
- 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 leave the bed. Check your RHR simultaneously and in the same rested state daily for 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 the following:
- your wrist
- the side of your neck
- the inside of your elbow
- 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 how to check your pulse.
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 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 of men, between 60 bpm and 100 bpm. Age and activity level are more important factors for heart rate.
Studies show that having a 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 about 3,000 men over 16 years old’s resting heart rate. After accounting for other risk factors, the study found that men with a resting heart rate over 90 bpm were three times more likely to die than men with the lowest RHR.
Further, an increased 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?
A low resting heart rate could be dangerous. It could indicate an underlying heart problem if you’re not an athlete.
Even if you’re an athlete, it could be a problem. One study found that having (5) a low resting heart rate is a risk factor for atrial fibrillation (AF) in athletes.
A heart rate below 60 bpm doesn’t mean you’re not healthy. For example, a low RHR could be (2) caused by taking drugs such as beta blockers.
Athletes generally have lower heart rates. Active people have lower heart rates because 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’s 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 result in a serious 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).
A resting heart rate that’s too high or too low for an extended period 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 aren’t an athlete), you should see your doctor or medical provider. Additionally, it would be best to watch for symptoms such as fainting, shortness of breath, dizziness or light-headedness, chest pain, discomfort, or fluttering.
What Affects Resting Heart Rate?
- Temperature: When temperature and humidity rise, your heart needs to pump more blood. Your pulse may increase (2) up to 5 to 10 bpm.
- Body position: Your pulse is usually the same when resting, whether sitting or standing. However, it may go up for a few minutes after sitting or standing.
- Emotions: Being stressed, excited, or upset can raise your pulse.
- Body Size: If you’re 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 instance, 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 a life expectancy of 177 years.
A mouse’s heart beats about 100 times faster than a tortoise’s. But a tortoise lives 100 times longer than a mouse. Humans, however, have about 60 bpm and have about 3 billion heartbeats per lifetime.
If you slow your resting heart rate, can you slow down aging?
Having a lower resting heart rate is associated with 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 than those with a lower one.
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, making them 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 is about one beat per second (16) at rest, or (60 bpm). For every ten beats per minute increase, there’s a 10 to 20% increased risk of premature death.
Strong evidence shows 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 temporarily raises your heart rate, but your body becomes more efficient over time. Your resting heart rate should lower naturally.
- Stress Reduction. Meditation and other stress management techniques like tai chi help your body reach a deeper relaxed state, 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 from an average of 69 to 66, a 3-point drop. But when they stopped the aerobic program, their resting heart rate went back to around 69 again.
You must exercise consistently to keep your resting heart rate lower. What else can you do?
Foods That Lower Resting Heart Rate
Living longer than average, people in the Blue Zones eat plenty of beans. Beans are so healthy because they can help lower your pulse.
Participants were given a cup of beans, chickpeas, or lentils in one study daily. 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 who exercised for 250 hours!
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 relax your body and mind. To do the Viparita Karani pose:
- Find a comfortable spot near a wall. For example, you can use your bed if it’s against the wall.
- Move your hips as close to the wall as possible.
- Slide your feet up the wall until your legs and the wall are parallel
- 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’re 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) involves giving 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 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 slowly to a workout of several reps that 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’re 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 diet and exercise can lower your resting heart rate in 12 weeks.
A low resting heart rate means that your circulatory system is efficient. Asking for more work, diet, and exercise will make your body more efficient.
Your body needs time to adapt to the changes you make. These adaptations 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 until it’s a habit. 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 what lowers your resting heart rate is also good for your overall health.
- 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.
- Physical or emotional stress 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 strengthens 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’re going to exercise, build up slowly so your body can adapt.
- The simplest exercises are the most effective. You can do them 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’s 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 your medical provider before changing your health, diet, and exercise.
You can read my full medical disclaimer here.