Whether you’re a serious athlete looking to get a leg up in competition or a beginner who wants to optimize your health, knowing how to take and track your heart rate is crucial to your success. You probably already know that wearing a heart rate monitor while exercising can help you reach and maintain your target heart rate, but what about that rate when you’re resting? That number matters, too!
In this guide, we’ll go over how to track your resting heart rate — and why it matters. With this know-how you can safely push yourself to the next level and stay on top of your health and wellness goals every step of the way.
What Is Resting Heart Rate?
Your resting heart rate (or pulse) is the number of times your heart beats per minute when you are at rest. For most adults, that number is somewhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute (BPM) but varies based on several factors, including age and fitness level. A lower resting heart rate — somewhere between 40 and 80 BPM — can indicate a stronger, healthier heart. Some studies show that people who have a higher resting heart rate tend to weigh more and have higher blood pressure. These factors can contribute to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
Why Your Heart Rate Rises
A lot of things happen in the body when working out. Your heart will beat more slowly when you’re at rest than when you’re in the middle of vigorous exercise. Additionally, blood pressure spikes in order to circulate blood and oxygen throughout the body. Getting your heart rate up while exercising is crucial to helping you keep your heart healthy and optimizing endurance and performance as an athlete.
Although it’s only one very small element of a much bigger picture, tracking your heart rate while at rest, and in motion, can give you a glimpse into your overall health. If you have a higher heart rate while resting, it may indicate a temporary or long-term problem, such as excessive stress, anxiety, illness or a more serious issue with the heart. Alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and certain medications may cause a spike in your resting heart rate. We recommend that you consult with your healthcare professional if you have concerns about your heart rate.
Taking Your Resting Heart Rate
There are two easy ways to take both resting and target heart rate — manually, or with a heart rate monitor. The manual method involves physically taking your pulse by placing your finger over one of your pulse points and counting the beats for a measured time period. Or you can wear a heart rate monitor, before, during and post workout to record your heart rate over time.
Regardless of which method you choose, make sure you’re completely relaxed and at rest in order to get an accurate resting rate. A good time to measure your resting heart rate is right after you wake up in the morning, but before getting out of bed, or after a nap.