Your normal heart rate is important to your overall physical health. Living a healthy life requires eating right and exercising regularly. No matter what type of exercise you engage in, your heart rate is a great barometer for you to measure your level of fitness.
Exploring Your Normal Heart Rate
In most adults, the average heart rate is 70 beats per minute. If a person is genetically predisposed, they may have a slightly higher or lower average heart rate. It's important to note that your normal heart rate is different from your resting heart rate. Your resting heart rate is determined by how many beats your heart averages while you are in a resting state. This is a state just above somnolence. Measure your resting heart rate when you first wake up in the morning, before you stretch or stand up. You can also measure it after lying perfectly still and practicing deep, relaxing breaths. The average resting heart rate is about 55 to 60 beats per minute.
Regular exercise can reduce your average heart rate, resting and normal, as your heart gains strength. Remember, your heart is a muscle and like any muscle, it becomes more efficient with increased use. Muscle strength is built when the muscle suffers tears or damage. As the muscle repairs, the repairs increase the muscle's strength.
Cardio based exercise such as aerobics, walking, running; swimming and cycling teach your heart to pump more efficiently by strengthening the heart muscle. If you start a regular walking program, you may find yourself breathing harder and harder after just a few minutes. If you continue to walk regularly, after a week, you'll notice it's taking you longer and longer to achieve that heavy breathing and higher heart rate. This is because your heart gets a little stronger each time you exercise. Stronger hearts pump more efficiently meaning it takes fewer beats to accomplish the same tasks.
Measuring Your Heart Rate
You can measure your heart rate in a variety of ways. Be aware when measuring your resting, normal or target heart rates that stress, medication and caffeine can all affect your heart rate.
A heart rate monitor is a great way to measure your heart rate. They come in all shapes and sizes and can be worn on your wrist or on your belt (with leads to connect), or a monitor that straps around your chest like the one provided by Breakthrough Health and Fitness when you sign up for their workout program. You can use the monitor to measure your heart rate before, during and after exercise.
- Exercise Equipment
A lot of cardio equipment comes with a built in heart rate monitor. On a treadmill for example, the hand grips will measure your heart rate and help you achieve your workout, particularly if you're using a pre-programmed regimen on the equipment to keep your heart rate in the target zone.
- Counting Your Pulse
You can measure your heart rate the old fashioned way, but remember do not use your thumb to count the beats in your pulse. Use two fingers and place them over the pulse point in your wrist or in your throat. Use a timer to measure ten seconds as you count the beats. Then multiply that number by 6 and you'll have your heart rate.
Healthy Life and Healthy Heart
Use your heart rate to help guide a healthier lifestyle. If your resting heart rate is above average, regular exercise can help reduce that. Have trouble sustaining your walking speeds because your heart is beating too hard and you're out of breath? Keep working at it and slow down, then build back up again. If you're concerned about any potential health issues related to your heart, consult your physician. Remember, you should have regular checkups every year and your physician can help you regulate your exercise program to maximize your health benefits.