A heart rate measurement measures the number of beats per minute performed by the heart. Heart beats are contractions of the heart. The resting heart rate is a measurement of heart beats when you are at complete rest. This measurement is considered a valuable indication of fitness, but not all physicians agree. This is because genetically, even though some people maintain a good level of fitness, they may have faster heart rates than others considered unfit. People can have higher/lower heart rates without specific medical reason, therefore the lower heart rate = fitter person theory is inconclusive. However, it is considered that the fitter a person is the less effort the heart needs to beat, thus a lower resting heart beat does generally indicate a higher level of fitness.
Measuring Your Resting Heart Rate
A reliable way to measure resting heart rate is immediately after waking up in the morning. This is because your body has been soundly resting for 7- 8 hours, not exercising, eating or being affected by stress. You can measure heart rate using a heart rate monitor, or by finding a pulse and counting the beats for 15-seconds and multiplying by four. The most reliable way to capture a reading is to sleep with a heart rate monitor attached to your body and view the monitor as soon as you wake up. Note down the reading and repeat this process for five consecutive days. After five days work out the average rate and that will indicate your resting heart rate. The reason readings should be taken over a period of five days is that not every night of sleep is replicated. For example, one night you may sleep badly, your bladder may be full and cause restlessness, or you may go to sleep stressed and cause heart rate fluctuation. All of these things will affect your resting heart rate and provide slightly higher readings.
Things Which Affect Resting Heart Rate
The resting heart rate is affected greatly by age. The older the body gets the more strain is put on the heart to pump blood adequately around the body. Medication can also affect heart rate readings, so it is best to wait until you have finished a course of medication before measuring your resting heart rate. Diet is always a contributing factor in assessing a healthy heart. Excess caffeine, sugars and additives will increase heart rate readings. Stress, anxiety, lack of sleep and general poor health will also produce high readings. As a rule of thumb, the more relaxed your environment and the better your diet, the lower your resting heart rate is likely to be.
What Is Considered A Normal Resting Heart Rate Be?
A resting heart rate is considered normal at about 70-80 beats per minute. Men usually have lower readings than women, although athletes of both sexes will have much lower readings, some as low as 35 beats per minute.