What’s a Normal Resting Heart Rate (RHR)? – Why It’s a Sign of Fitness and How to Improve It

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The resting heart rate (RHR) measures the number of times a person’s heart beats per minute when they are at rest. It is usually measured when you are relaxed, sitting or lying down.

So, if you are keen on your heart health, fitness and overall health, your RHR is a vital measure to monitor.

Normal Resting Heart Rate

A normal resting heart rate for a healthy adult ranges between 60 to 100 beats per minute (bpm). The resting heart rate varies from one person to the other. So, it is important to note that your normal RHR may not be the same as your friend’s.

The resting heart rate for athletes and people who are physically active may dip up to 40 bpms. Therefore, a low resting heart rate is usually a sign of fitness and a healthy heart. However, a low RHR accompanied by dizziness and shortness is a sign that all is not well. You should see a doctor.

Study shows that the resting heart rate for children varies according to age. As for infants, the normal resting heart rate ranges from 100 – 160 beats per minute. Toddlers have a RHR of  90-150 beats per minute, while that for 7-10 years is anything between 70 – 110 beats per minute.

Generally, women have a higher resting heart rate compared to men. For adults, the resting heart rate also increases as you age across all genders. However, a resting heart rate of over 100 beats per minute in adults is an indication of illness and other issues.  If you have a low RHR, lower than 60 beats per minute, it means you are physically fit and healthy and your heart is functioning properly.

Average Resting Heart Rate Chart For Men & Women

A graph of the average resting heart rate for men and women of ages 20 to 50 years.
[Source: Whoop]

From the graph above, the average heart for women is 60.7 beats per minute, and that of men is approximately 56.9 bpm. The data from this graph is lower than the average bpm because the statistics were gathered from athletes.

Why A Low Resting Heart Rate Is A Sign Of Fitness?

A low resting heart rate means that your heart pumps enough blood in a heartbeat. As a result, the heart doesn’t have to beat frequently to compensate for insufficient quantities pumped at every heartbeat.

A lower resting heart rate is an indication that your cardiovascular muscles are strong hence an efficient heart rate. This means that your heart can take on more action without abruptly increasing the heart rate hence a low heart rate variability (HRV).

A low resting heart rate is a sign of physical and cardiovascular fitness. Your heart doesn’t have to beat frequently to supply oxygenated blood to the rest, as the blood pumped at every heartbeat is enough.

When the heart rate and the HRV is low, the body the parasympathetic state dominates hence the time between consecutive heartbeats is reduced. This means that your body can handle switching to any flight-to-fight situations without straining a lot.

The ability of your body to switch from the parasympathetic state to the sympathetic state quickly is a measure of fitness. And having a low resting heart rate gives enough room for your body to switch between the two without straining. Therefore, a low resting heart rate is a sign of fitness.

What Does A High Resting Heart Rate Mean?

A high resting heart rate is an indication that your heart is not functioning efficiently. Hence it has to beat several times more than normal to pump oxygenated blood to the rest of the body. It is normal for your resting heart rate to be high following some activities such as exercise.

An elevated RHR can be caused by one of the following factors:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Illness and other health conditions
  • Medication
  • Physical activity/ exercise
  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue
  • Alcohol and Caffeine consumption
  • Smoking
  • Inadequate sleep

How to Improve Resting Heart Rate

If you’re worried that your resting heart rate is on the higher side, you’ll be relieved to know there are a couple of ways to improve your RHR. Yes, you have to make some lifestyle and behavioural changes.

If you don’t have some underlying health conditions which may be the cause of elevated RHR, here are some tips to help you lower your RHR:

  • Improving your physical fitness by exercising regularly. Exercise can help to lower your RHR regardless of your age. It doesn’t have to be vigorous exercise, even walking and doing some daily exercises around your home is good for your RHR.
  • Staying hydrated
  • Quit smoking and alcohol consumption
  • Cut back on the caffeine
  • Develop healthy and consistent sleep routines to ensure that you get enough sleep.
  • Meditation to lower stress.

These factors can help you bring down your RHR and develop a healthy lifestyle. Physical fitness is the number one factor in improving your resting heart rate.

Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness. – Joseph Pilates

How to Track Your RHR

Measuring your resting heart rate is quite easy, and you can do it yourself in just a few steps:

  1. Make sure that you are resting, i.e sitting or lying down when doing this.
  2. Place your middle and index finger on the underside of your arm (radial artery) or on the side of your neck where there is the carotid artery.
  3. Count the number of beats in 30 seconds, then multiply this by 2 to get the number of beats per minute.

Tracking, on the other hand, can be difficult to measure by yourself. Fortunately, there are plenty of products in the market that you can use to measure, monitor and track your resting heart rate. These include smartwatches, rings, other heart rate monitors, and fitness wearables.

You can monitor your resting heart rate and your heart rate variability when sleeping using these smart devices. Your data is then logged onto apps that keep track of your vitals.

A Program Just For You!

At Marc Dressen, we will tailor a special fitness and over well-being program to suit your individual and athletic needs. Your physical fitness is vital, and so is your mental and emotional well-being. That is why at Marc Dressen we focus on your overall wellness. Contact us today to get a special program just for you.

I’m Marc Dressen, a high-performance coach, who has worked with elite performers, athletes and entrepreneurs for over 25 years.

I am passionate about unlocking the potential of high achievers - finding that hidden 10% that will take individuals to the next level.

My MSc in Sports Science, coupled with my extensive training in neurolinguistic programming and systemic coaching philosophy has allowed me to incorporate the mind and body into a synergistic machine.

My coaching strategy has now developed into a system that I have coined The Apex Approach, a custom framework that incorporates the latest evidence-based techniques such as biohacking, modern science and digital monitoring, to align the mind and body to its optimum potential. I use biomarkers to remotely coach my clients, so they can receive support whenever they need it.