Resting Heart Rate – What you should know.
Let me start this with a little story…
A couple of years ago while lying in bed, I started to feel the beat of my heart aggressively. I felt uneasy that I had an elevated heart rate, so I decided to see a doctor. After going through an ECG, I was relieved when the doctor said to me that there is nothing wrong except, my resting heart rate was over 90 beats per minute. She explained it is not healthy to have an elevated resting heart rate as it could mean that I have an overworked heart, and it may get complicated in the long term. “Start working out and get your heart rate down. Olympic athletes have their heart rates around 40 bpm. But try getting it within 60 – 70 bpm. That’s when heart muscles are strong and efficient” she further explained.
What is Resting Heart Rate (RHR)?
It is the number of times your heart beats in a minute when you are resting. Today, I would like to share with you an easy and effective way to gauge your heart health in 60 seconds, using just your fingers.
It is an important indicator of your fitness levels and may even help you spot other health problems. (All About Heart Rate (Pulse) | American Heart Association). RHR is considered, along with cholesterol and blood pressure to be a leading independent indicator of the health of your heart.
A normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute. Athletes or people who are very fit may even have RHR of less that 60bpm.
So how do I test this?
It’s easy to do – something we all learned in Grade 07 in school. Keep your index and middle finger on your wrist just below the thumb. Once you feel your pulse, count the number of beats for 60 seconds (or count for 30 seconds and double it to get your beats per minute). Repeat a few times to ensure an accurate reading. But make sure you DON’T measure within an hour or two of strenuous activity like working out, or after consuming coffee as those factors could increase your heart rate for a short while.
Why is this important?
A growing body of evidence from clinical trials and epidemiological studies has identified elevated resting heart rate as a predictor of clinical events. Over the past 30 years, at least 38 studies have looked at the connection between heart rate and cardiovascular or all-cause mortality, and 32 studies show that elevated heart rates significantly increase the risk of early death in individuals.
Three studies of normal populations with and without hypertension (the Paris Prospective Study I, Hypertension Ambulatory Recording Venetia Study and a study by Aboyens and Criqui), with a combined sample of nearly 180,000 people, supported the link between heart rate and health. Another study, which tracked 2,798 healthy middle-aged males over a period of 16 years, showed that high resting heart rates were a significant predictor of mortality. The study showed that a resting heart rate in the range 81–90 bpm doubled the risk, and resting heart rates above 90 bpm tripled the risk compared to subjects in the lowest heart rate category (<50 bpm).
This is also an indicator of your mental health. Stress and anxiety can increase your RHR as well. You may experience palpitations that makes you feel your heartbeat while resting.
What can I do?
- Exercise more and lose weight if necessary – doing cardio helps your heart muscles to become stronger and effectively lower your RHR.
- Reduce stress and anxiety – exercising definitely helps! May I also suggest Yoga or meditation?
- Check your resting heart rate a few times per week – talk with your doctor if your resting heart rate is regularly on the high end.
- Most smart watches in the market now come with built-in heart rate monitors. You could invest in one and use it to keep track of your heart rate while resting and exercising.
- Resting Heart Rate: A Modifiable Prognostic Indicator of Cardiovascular Risk and Outcomes?
- Temporal Changes in Resting Heart Rate and Deaths from Ischemic Heart Disease.
One of our goals with the SaaraLife blog is to provide you with tips and tricks, from nutrition to ways of monitoring your health, which we believe are simple and effective. In addition to this article, we hope you have read and enjoyed the previous blog post about simple ways of measuring your calorie intake.