What is a normal resting heart rate? Frequently Asked Questions

The heart is a complex organ, and when it comes to concepts such as ‘normal heart rate’, we have to take various factors into consideration. It’s important that we address those before we go into what a normal rate is.

There are a number of these factors, and all of them could have an impact upon what is your normal heart rate.

Each of these could affect what is ‘normal’ for you:

  • Your fitness level. Depending on how fit and active you are, your normal heart rate could vary
  • Age. A younger person may expect to have a different normal rate than someone who is much older
  • Your body position or state. If you’re lying down you can expect to have a different normal rate than someone who is standing up or sitting down
  • Medications. These could have a huge impact. There are a number of medications that can affect your normal or expected rate. For example, asthma medication can make your heart rate faster. If this medication is a constant factor in your life, your concept of ‘normal heart rate’ will be different to someone else’s
  • If you’re a smoker you can expect to have significant variance in what you can refer to as your ‘normal heart rate’
  • Stress. This is a factor because prolonged stress can cause heart rate to increase. This could have huge long-term health implications, so if you are suffering from stress, it is very important that you seek help

So what is a resting heart rate, and what’s normal?

It’s exactly what it sounds like. Your resting heart rate is the beats per minute when you are resting.

In adults, a normal resting heart rate is from 60 to 100 beats per minute. It's an important number to be aware of because a huge variance around this range could indicate some serious problems.

How to measure your resting heart rate

All this requires is checking your pulse. The simplest way to do this is to press your index and forefinger against your neck lightly. Aim to have the two fingers next to where your windpipe is.

To measure, simply count how many beats you have in 15 seconds. Then multiply that figure by 4 to get the heart rate per minute.

Once you have it, and you are ‘resting’ when you take it, you can then see what your normal rate is. If your rate is above 100 on a regular basis when testing your resting heart rate, it’s important that you see a physician, because you could be presenting with signs of tachycardia (an increased heart rate). If it’s below 60 beats per minute, it could be a sign of bradycardia.

The ‘normal’

In conclusion, a ‘normal resting heart rate’ in adults will fit into a range of rates. Just remember that, as long as you are not adversely affected by any of the factors at the start of this answer (smoking, poor fitness etc.), your resting heart rate should fit into that 60-100 range.

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