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The Importance of Resting Heart Rate

Using resting heart rate to measure health

There’s a reason your doctor takes your pulse at every visit -- resting heart rate may be one of the quickest and most effective ways to assess your health. Your resting heart rate can provide insight into your cardiovascular health as well as your fitness level. The normal resting heart rate for an adult ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute, however, a resting heart rate on the lower end of that range is ideal. The faster your heart has to beat to move blood through your body, the more work it’s doing. The heart is a muscle and it wears down over time. It is thought that by beating slower, the heart can better preserve itself. A lower resting heart rate is associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality and a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Resting heart rate is also an indicator of fitness. People who are more physically fit regularly challenge and strengthen their hearts with cardiovascular exercise and tend to have lower resting heart rates. By increasing your fitness level you can lower your resting heart rate and train your heart to beat more efficiently.

To measure your resting heart rate, simply find your pulse in either your wrist or neck using your index and middle fingers. Once you have found your pulse, count how many times it beats in one minute and you have found your resting heart rate. Another option is to use the app Cardiio, which uses your smartphone’s camera to measure your heart rate. Keep in mind that caffeine and stress can affect your resting heart rate. Try to take your pulse when you are relaxed and have not had any caffeine.

Written by: Catherine Ward, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern

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