What does your resting heart rate (RHR) tell you?
The resting heart rate gives you a pretty good clue on how ‘fit’ you are. There is a direct link between a high RHR and increased risk of dying from cardiovascular events according to some research.
A study from 2015 found that a higher resting heart rate is associated with a higher risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease, even in people who do not present with the usual risk factors.
It was found that when comparing with a resting heart rate of 45 beats per minute (bpm), the rate for All-cause mortality risk increased linearly as resting heart rate went up. The most significant increase in mortality risk was however at a resting rate of 90 bpm or more.
Further analysis showed a mortality excess of 30-50% for every increase of 20 beats per minute at rest.
What is a reasonable resting heart rate?
A regular heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 bpm at rest.
In general, a slower beating heart at rest is a sign of a more efficient heart function and a fitter cardiovascular condition. A marathon runner, for example, could have a heart rate as low as 40 beats a minute.
If your heart rate is continuously above 100 bpm, consult your doctor. He/she might want to do some tests to find the underlying cause.
How do I measure my resting heart rate?
Do it first thing in the morning, ideally before getting up. Find the pulse on the thumb-side of your wrist, and count how many times it beats within 60 seconds, this gives you the beats per minute figure. You can also check it by counting the pulse in your neck.
Several factors can influence heart rate:
- Activity levels
- Air temperature
- Standing up /Lying down
- Body size/volume
How can I improve my resting heart rate?
First of all, start with regular aerobic exercise programs such as cycling, running, walking, swimming or hiking.
It has also been found that a good night sleep can help improve your heart rate. The healthy cardiovascular friendly diet can also contribute to a healthier heartbeat. Try and reduce stress, both physical and emotional and if you suffer from anxiety, try some relaxation therapies. Smoking as well as being overweight also increased your resting heart rate – you know what to do.