A resting heart rate is different from a target heart rate, and it’s important to know both of these numbers (for your specific body) to determine your health goals.
What Is a Resting Heart Rate?
Your resting heart rate is how many beats your heart beats in a minute. You can take your resting heart rate while lying down or resting, but most physicians agree it’s best to take it first thing in the morning after a good nights sleep and before you actually get out of bed. Simply find your pulse (usually in your wrist or neck) and start a 60-second timer. Count how many beats per minute you feel.
What Factors Affect My Resting Heart Rate?
A number of different variables will affect your resting heart rate making it either higher or lower than others. A few of those variables include:
- sex – men typically have lower heart rates than women.
- physical fitness – people who exercise have lower resting heart rates than people who lead a more sedentary lifestyle.
- age – younger people typically have lower resting heart rates.
- medications – drugs, even prescription medications can slow down or speed up your resting heart rate.
- caffeine – as a stimulant, high amounts of caffeine over a short amount of time can increase your heart rate and even make you jittery.
- genetics – some people have unexplainably lower resting heart rates than others and that can be passed down for generations.
What is the Difference between a Resting and Target Heart Rate?
A resting heart rate is your beats per minute while your body is at rest. A target heart rate is how fast your heart beats per minute during aerobic exercise, for optimal physical benefits. Allowing your heart beat to get excessively high when you’re working out does not signal good physical fitness and is not necessarily healthy.
Target heart rates are intended to give athletes or people working out a good barometer of how hard they should be working throughout their workout (to give their heart and lungs the maximum benefit from the workout). To choose a healthy target heart rate, you need to find your resting heart rate first and then consider intensity levels for the purpose of your workout.
What is a Healthy Resting Heart Rate?
A normal resting heart rate for a woman is anything between 70 to 80 beats per minute. Seventy beats or lower is considered a very healthy resting heart rate and anything over 84 beats per minute is considered dangerously high. If your heart rate is too low, it can a signal of health issues. So contact your doctor is your resting heart rate drops below 50.
How do You Achieve a Healthy Resting Heart Rate?
A healthy resting heart rate is usually a product of a healthy heart. To get your heart on track with a better resting heart rate you need to:
- exercise aerobically 3 to 4 times a week
- keep your weight down
- lower your intake of sodium
In addition to the above tips, be sure to always eat heart healthy foods that include a variety of fruits and vegetables (and are low in fat). By following a nutritious diet, participating in regular activity and adopting an overall healthy lifestyle, you can benefit your heart health.