The Relationship between Your Resting Heart Rate and Fitness

Are you wondering whether your heart is ticking right? Sometimes we might think that it is beating too slowly, or you may think that it is racing too fast than normal. Your Resting Heart Rate (RHR) represents the number of beats your heart makes every minute while you are completely at rest. It indicates the level of your physical fitness as this rate will reduce as your heart gains strength from the various aerobic exercises. A minimal Resting Heart Rate indicates better levels of fitness for people involved in workout programs or athletic training but may also prove beneficial to those who are not physically fit.

Normal Resting Heart Rate

A healthy resting pulse rate ranges between 60 to 100 bpm for adults. Most physically fit adults have a resting pulse of below 60bpm while elite athletes have a resting heart rate of below 40bpm.

The average Resting Heart Rate for an adult is between 60 to 100bpm, but those on the higher end have increased health risks such as metabolic syndrome. Adults who have a resting heart rate above 80bpm have an elevated cardiovascular and mortality risk. The risks are serious when your resting heart rate exceeds 90bpm.

Resting Heart Rate is influenced by gender because women have a low volume of blood and smaller hearts meaning that their hearts must beat more to provide nutrients to the tissues. It is also affected by age; it is higher in infants and slows down as you enter into adulthood.

Prescription or over-the-counter medications also affect your resting heart rate. Medicines that are meant to treat depression, asthma, and obesity tend to elevate your Resting Heart Rate. However, drugs that are designed to treat heart conditions and hypertension (calcium channel and beta-blockers) reduce your Resting Heart Rate.

Bradycardia is a term used to describe a low resting heart rate for the unfit people. According to the American Health Association, bradycardia is when your heart beats slower than usual while you are relaxing. It is a significant problem when your heart cannot pump enough blood throughout your body. You can have an implanted pacemaker installed to help you rectify this condition and keep your heart rate at appropriate levels.

If you do not exercise regularly and discover that you have a reduced RHR with dizziness or short breath symptoms, then you should make a point of discussing this issue with your doctor.

Bradycardia is caused by various factors and is usually solved by diagnosing the underlying condition. In some instances, bradycardia occurs due to an irregular rhythm in your heart, and thus a pacemaker is required.

What Your Resting Heart Rate means

Your RHR will be reduced as you continue to exercise and enhance your fitness levels. Rigorous aerobic exercises such as cycling or running have a direct effect of lowering your RHR. Moderate-intensity activity like brisk walking produces minimal effects.

RHR is reduced as the muscles of your heart becomes stronger thus making it pump sufficient blood to the tissues per heartbeat. Your heart requires few pulses to pump the same volume of blood throughout your body. If the muscles of your heart are weak, it needs to beat extra hard to pump the same volume of blood.

If you are monitoring your RHR and discover that it is rising, then it might be caused by one of the following factors:

-Physical, emotional or mental stress

-Dehydration which might be caused by high humidity and heat.

-Being sleep-deprived

-Developing a medical condition or illness. Overtraining and Exercise Recovery

Athletes usually track their RHR to know whether they have fully recovered from an intensive workout or race. They understand their normal RHR and track it to know whether it has returned to regular few days after the race or workout.

A RHR that is 5pm above normal indicates that you need ample time to recover.

An elevated RHR is a clear indication that you overtrained. Your RHR may rise a few days after a vigorous strength workout such as running a long race or participating in a half-marathon race. You need to delay another rigorous endurance workout until your RHR has gone back to its original state.

Fitness apps and monitors that record your workout stats may notify you when you can resume for another intensive workout. If you have not fully recovered, they may advise you on lighter workouts that you can try.

How to Measure Your Resting Heart Rate

Taking your RHR should be the first thing to do when you wake up in the morning, before getting out of your bed. This is because your heart rate will rise once you start to do some activities such as eating, drinking and smoking.

To obtain a correct value of RHR, you must be completely calm and still. If you had set the alarm to wake you up, then you need to lie slowly for a few minutes before taking your pulse rate. If you are not in a position to take your RHR immediately after waking up, then wait for a maximum of three hours without consuming any

caffeine, participating in a stressful event or exercising. Sit quietly or lie down for 10 minutes before you measure your RHR.

You require a device that will count the seconds, such as a clock app or stopwatch that displays time in seconds.

Taking Your Pulse

To measure your heart rate manually, place your middle and index fingers below the base of your thumb and exert some pressure until you identify your pulse. Or you can place fingers on your Adam’s apple and press gently till you identify the pulse.

Now you can start counting your heartbeats.

Start by counting for one full minute to obtain your RHR without doing any calculations. But you can also count and do the math as illustrated below:

  • Count at intervals of 6 seconds and multiply your count by 10.
  • Count at 15 seconds intervals and multiply your results by 4.
  • Count at 30 seconds intervals and multiply your number by 2.

Most fitness equipment is fitted with pulse rate sensors which can assist to measure your RHR.

Final Thoughts

Your RHR is a crucial number you need to understand and track when you begin your workout program. It will help you to know whether you need more time to recover fully after an intensive workout. If you discover that your RHR is fluctuating on a daily basis worry not, but long-term fluctuations can show you how well you are

doing in fitness.

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