What is Resting Heart Rate?

Understanding your resting heart rate can help you better understand your overall health. A low or high resting heart rate is often the sign of underlying health issues. In today’s article, we will go over what a good resting heart rate is, what a dangerous heart rate is, how you can lower your heart rate, and symptoms of cardiovascular health issues. 

What Is A Good Resting Heart Rate By Age?

Your heart rate, also referred to as your pulse, is the number of times your heart beats in one minute. Heart rate will vary from person to person. Pulse is lower when you are resting and higher when you are exercising or active. Knowing how to take your pulse can help you determine whether or not your resting heart rate is normal. You can take your pulse by:

  • Place your index, second, and third fingers on the palm side of your wrist, right below the base of your thumb. You can also place the tips of your index and second fingers on your lower neck
  • Press lightly with your fingers until you feel pulsing. You may have to move your fingers around until you feel your pulse
  • Either use a watch with your second hand or look at a clock
  • Count the beats you feel for ten seconds, multiply this number by six to get your heart rate

What is considered a normal heart rate at rest will depend on your age. For children ages 6-15, 70-100 beats per minute are considered safe. For adults 18 and over, 60-100 beats per minute are considered safe. 

What Is A Healthy Heart Rate?

A lower heart rate generally means more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular health. Someone super-fit might have a resting heart rate closer to 40 beats per minute, which is still considered healthy. There are several different factors that can influence your heart rate. These factors include:

  • Age
  • Fitness and overall well-being
  • Smoking, drinking, and other unhealthy behaviors
  • Having cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or high cholesterol
  • How your body is positioned
  • Certain medications that you take
  • Emotions
  • Body size

There is a wide range of “normal,” but an unusually high or low heart rate might indicate an underlying problem. If you notice your resting heart rate is higher or lower than usual, you should consult with your doctor. If you are experiencing other signs or symptoms like fainting, dizziness, or shortness of breath, seek medical assistance as soon as possible. 

What Is Meant By Resting Heart Rate?

Resting heart rate is often referred to as RHR. Remember, RHR has a wide range of normals, an uncommonly high or low resting heart rate paired with other symptoms can be dangerous. It’s important to note that if you are measuring your heart rate, you need to make sure you are actually at rest. 

You don’t have to be active to have an elevated heart rate. Anxiety and stress can also raise your heart rate, even if you’re at rest. Stimulants, like coffee, can also raise your heart rate. This is why most experts will recommend avoiding drinking too much coffee. Caffeine can lead to heightened anxiety, which will greatly affect your heart rate. 

Is 72 A Good Resting Heart Rate?

Understanding what your resting heart rate says about your cardiovascular health is important. For both children and adults, 72 is considered a good heart rate. But what exactly does having a resting heart rate of 72 say about your health? A healthy resting heart rate usually - but not always - indicates healthy cardiovascular health. 

A higher resting heart rate can be dangerous as it taxes the heart, making it work harder. Higher resting heart rates are linked to a higher risk of heart disease and death, just like high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Low heart rates can also be risky. While it may not lead to any issues, it’s usually a sign that something else is wrong like an under-active thyroid, Lyme disease, or even a heart attack. 

What Is A Healthy Range For Heart Rate?

While there is a range for your resting heart rate, there is also a maximum heart rate. This is the rate at which your heart is beating when it is working its hardest to meet your body’s oxygen needs. Your maximum heart rate will determine your aerobic capacity - the amount of oxygen you are able to consume. Maximum heart rate will vary from person to person and will depend on your age:

  • 40 years old - 180
  • 45 years old - 175
  • 50 years old - 170
  • 55 years old - 165
  • 60 years old - 160
  • 65 years old - 155
  • 70 years old - 150

If you have any questions about your maximum heart rate, ask your healthcare provider. It’s important to have a proper understanding of your cardiovascular health. 

How Do I Decrease My Resting Heart Rate?

If you notice you have a high resting heart rate, there are things you can do to lower it. Implementing these lifestyle changes will also increase your overall well-being. Here are some of the things you can do to decrease your resting heart rate:

  • Exercise more - Exercising every day will gradually lower your heart rate and improve your cardiovascular health
  • Reduce stress - Relaxation techniques such as meditation and tai chi can lower your heart rate over time
  • Avoid tobacco products - On average, smokers have a higher resting heart rate than non-smokers
  • Maintain a healthy weight - If you are overweight, your heart has to work harder to supply the body with blood

Again, if you fear your heart rate is dangerously high, speak with your healthcare providers as soon as possible. 

What Is A Dangerous Heart Rate?

Not every instance of a high heart rate or a low heart rate is dangerous. Illnesses such as a cold or a sinus infection can lead to an elevated heart rate. Your heart rate will return to normal once the symptoms subside. However, if you’re are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should seek medical assistance immediately:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness or chest pain
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • An inability to exercise

These symptoms, paired with a high heart rate could be a sign of a medical emergency.