Healthy Resting Heart Rate

Have you ever wondered what a normal heart rate is? Well, you aren’t alone. Your pulse, or heart rate, is the number of times your heart beats each minute.

It is important to know that your normal heart rate can be different from other people’s.

What Is a Healthy Resting Heart Rate?

A resting heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute when you’re not engaged in a physical activity. What’s normal depends on your age and activity level but, generally, a resting heart rate of 60 to 80 beats per minute (BPM) is considered to be in the normal range. If you are an athlete, a normal resting heart rate can be as low as 40 BPM. Studies have shown that men tend to have higher maximum heart rates than women, however the same does not apply to resting heart rates.

How To Calculate Resting Heart Rate

Here’s how to quickly check your normal resting heart rate.

Take your pulse at either the base of your thumb on the palm side of your wrist or the base of your neck on the side of your windpipe.

Using two or three fingers, not your thumb, press lightly on your skin until you can feel your pulse beating underneath.

Count the beats for 10 seconds, then multiply that number by six. That number is your resting heart rate.

Normal Resting Heart Rate by Age

For most adults, the normal heart rate is 60 to 80 BPM. Well-trained athletes can have a normal heart rate of 40 to 60 BPM.

AGE AVERAGE MAXIMUM HEART RATE, 100%
20 years 200 bpm
30 years 190 bpm
35 years 185 bpm
40 years 180 bpm
45 years 175 bpm
50 years 170 bpm
55 years 165 bpm
60 years 160 bpm
65 years 155 bpm
70 years 150 bpm

What Should My Heart Rate Be When I Am Active?

When you work out, your heart rate will get higher. This number is your active heart rate. Active heart rates, like resting heart rates, differ among people and change as you age.

How to calculate your maximum heart rate

Generally, a healthy active heart rate is 60 to 80 percent of the highest your heart rate should safely go. The highest heart rate is called your maximum heart rate. A guideline for calculating your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220, like this: 220 – your age = your maximum heart rate

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What is a Target Heart Rate?

A target heart rate is usually expressed as a percentage of your maximum safe heart rate. The maximum rate is based on your age. The target ranges normally are:

For moderate-intensity exercise—50 percent to 69 percent of maximum.

For vigorous-intensity exercise—70 percent to 90 percent of maximum.

How to find your target heart rate

This table shows estimated normal target heart rates for different ages. Your maximum heart rate is about 220 minus your age. The figures are averages, so use them as general guidelines.

AGE TARGET HR ZONE (50% TO 85%)
20 years 100-170 beats per minute (bpm)
30 years 95-162 bpm
35 years 93-157 bpm
40 years 90-153 bpm
45 years 88-149 bpm
50 years 85-145 bpm
55 years 83-140 bpm
60 years 80-136 bpm
65 years 78-132 bpm
70 years 75-128 bpm

Does Heart Rate Increase or Decrease With Age?

Aging causes changes in the heart and circulatory system. As you age, your heart may not be able to beat as fast during times of physical activity or stress as it did when you are younger.

Your resting heart rate, however, should not change significantly with normal aging.

What is a Dangerous Heart Rate?

There are two types of dangerous heart rates:

  • Too high – Called tachycardia, it’s a heart rate consistently above 100 beats per minute.
  • Too low – Called bradycardia, it’s a heart rate below 60 beats per minute (when you’re not an athlete).

If your heart rate is too high or too low and/or you are also experiencing shortness of breath, make an appointment with your health care provider.

Irregular Heart Rate Causes

The most common cause of arrhythmia or irregular heart rate is atrial fibrillation, which can cause a fast heart rate.

Other factors may contribute to an abnormally high heart rate, including:

  • Age – Your heart rate will increase as you age.
  • Medications – Some medications block adrenaline, slowing your heart rate.
  • Fitness level – The more physically active you are the better your heart’s fitness and the lower your heart rate.
  • Stress level – Being stressed can lead to a higher heart rate.
  • Body mass – Being overweight or obese can lead to a higher heart rate.
  • Body position – Standing up may result in a higher heart rate than lying down.

How to Lower Resting Heart Rate

If you are having an episode of elevated heart rate, try the Valsalva maneuver, a simple trick to relax your heart:

  • Hold your nose tightly and breathe out forcefully through your mouth as if stifling a sneeze or blowing up a tight balloon.
  • At the same time, bear down as if you’re having a bowel movement.

This quick, full-body strain can trigger your heart to go back to a normal rhythm.

Generally, a lower resting heart rate indicates that your heart is functioning efficiently. The ability of the heart to return to a resting heart rate quickly after exercise is an indicator of good cardiovascular fitness.

If your resting heart rate changes drastically or you have a consistently elevated heart rate, talk to your provider. A higher resting heart rate can be a sign of a heart problem. If you are an adult with a resting heart rate between 80 to 100 BPM, you might be at risk.

Keeping track of your heart rate can help you improve your overall health and adjust your exercise routine to stay healthy.

Want to learn more about your heart? Visit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute online.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About Heart and Vascular Institute

The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has long been a leader in cardiovascular care, with a rich history in clinical research and innovation. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the country and as the developer of one of the first heart-assist devices, UPMC has contributed to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine. We strive to provide the most advanced, cutting-edge care for our patients, treating both common and complex conditions. We also offer services that seek to improve the health of our communities, including heart screenings, free clinics, and heart health education. Find an expert near you.