Resting Heart Rate

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A simplified chart of heart rate against exercise intensity showing Maximum Heart Rate, Heart Rate Reserve, Resting Heart Rate, Orthostatic Heart Rate, and Heart Rate Deflection.

Resting Heart Rate (HRrest) is how fast your heart beats when you are not expending any energy beyond simply being alive. Finding your HRrest is easy; just check your heart rate while sitting still or lying down. Early morning is a good time, before any exercise or taken caffeine, both of which will raise your HRrest. A low HRrest is normally a sign of fitness, as endurance training tends to increase the size of your heart, and a large heart needs to beat less often to pump the same amount of blood. HRrest is used to calculate Heart Rate Reserve.

1 Measuring Resting Heart Rate

It is possible to take your pulse with your finger, but most people find this tricky and inconvenient. A Heart Rate Monitor will provide an accurate and simple way of checking your heart rate, but putting one on first thing in the morning (possibly before you get out of bed) is a bit of a pain. A blood pressure meter will also record heart rate, but can be a little noisy and awkward to put on. My preferred approach is to use a simple Pulse Oximeter, which is the easiest technique. Optical Heart Rate Monitors included in watches can be fairly accurate for resting heart rate, even if they have problems during exercise.

2 Testing Position

There's no consensus on which position to measure resting heart rate, with about half of studies using sitting and about half using lying down[1].

3 Zero Power (Orthostatic) Heart Rate

While resting heart rate is well established, there is often a difference between this value and the heart rate when generating no power output, such as sitting stationary on a bike or standing still. While this difference is small, it does change the calculation for Heart Rate Reserve.

4 See Also

5 References

  1. Paolo Palatini, Athanase Benetos, Guido Grassi, Stevo Julius, Sverre E Kjeldsen, Giuseppe Mancia, Krzystof Narkiewicz, Gianfranco Parati, Achille C Pessina, Luis M Ruilope, Alberto Zanchetti, Identification and management of the hypertensive patient with elevated heart rate: statement of a European Society of Hypertension Consensus Meeting, Journal of Hypertension, volume 24, issue 4, 2006, pages 603–610, ISSN 0263-6352, doi 10.1097/01.hjh.0000217838.49842.1e