Normal Heart Rate: Everything you Need to Know
Normal heart rate or pulse is the number of times your heart beats in a minute.
Interestingly, heart rate varies from one person to another.
When you are in a resting position, it tends to get slow or low, however, when you are doing an activity, like walking or exercising, it gets higher.
Learn more about your normal heart rate, factors that influence it, and targeted heart rates in this guide.
Normal Heart Rate
Normal heart rate is one of the vital signs or important indicators of your health.
Moreover, it measures the number of times your heart beats or contracts blood to the arteries.
The speed of your heartbeat usually varies when you perform physical activity, like exercise, jogging, etc. or when you face a threat or experience an emotional situation.
However, when you relax, your heart beats normally.
While it might not be an indicator that you are free of any disease, however, it is a useful indicator for identifying a range of health conditions.
Certain lifestyle changes like exercising regularly, eating a healthy and balanced diet, reducing stress related to work, office, home, etc, and quitting smoking or tobacco products can help you maintain a normal range.
If you already suffer from heart disease, then you should regularly monitor your condition and stick to the treatment plan by your doctor or physician.
Taking medications properly can help reduce your chances of developing any complications.
Resting Heart Rate
When your pulse is within the normal range, then it is an indicator that your heart is performing well.
However, if due to a disease or injury, your heart is unable to pump or push blood effectively, then the organs will not receive enough blood and thus, will not function properly.
The United States National Institute of Health NIH has published the resting heart rate.
As you move through your childhood towards adolescence, your heart rate slows gradually.
After the age of 10, your heartbeat varies from 60 to 100 beats per minute, bpm.
However, in the case of athletes, when you rest it can be below 60 bpm even 40 beats per minute, bpm.
The following tables show the range at different ages according to NIH:
Age Normal Heart Rate, bpm
Up to 1 month 70 to 190 bpm
age 1 to 11 months 80 to 160 bpm
from 1 to 2 years of age 80 to 130 bpm
from 3 to 4 years of age 80 to 120 bpm
5 to 6 years of age 75 to 115 bpm
7 to 9 years of age 70 to 110 bpm
over 10 years of age 60 to 100 bpm
This may vary with the normal range.
However, the change may be due to certain changes like exercise, body temperature, emotional triggers or body positions, etc.
Taking your Heart Rate
Heart rate is the number of times your heart contracts or beats in a minute.
A healthy heart supplies blood at a high rate when you are doing some activity.
For instance, when you are scared, your body releases adrenaline, which makes your heart beat faster.
This makes your body use more oxygen and energy to escape the situation.
You might have a little confusion with your heart rate and pulse.
Pulse is the measurement of how many times in a minute your arteries expand and contract in response to the contraction or pumping of the heart.
Moreover, your pulse rate is equal to your heartbeat.
The contractions of the heart cause an increase in the blood pressure in the arteries that leads to a noticeable pulse.
There are a few spots in your body where you can easily take your pulse.
- Insides of your wrist
- Insides of your elbows
- either side of your neck
- on the top of your feet
You can feel your pulse when you put your index and middle finger on your skin.
When you do so, you can feel blood pulsing, however, you may need to move your fingers until you feel it.
To check your pulse count the number for 10 seconds and multiply it by 6. This will give your maximum heart rate or pulse for a minute.
Factors that increase your Heart Rate
Tachycardia is a condition when your heart rate is faster than normal and can be due to an underlying medical condition.
These conditions could be anemia, congenital heart disease, heart disease that affects the blood flow, hyperthyroidism, injury to the heart from a heart attack, ventricle, or supraventricular arrhythmias.
Moreover, if you use illegal drugs or missing both prescription and non-prescription drugs may also cause your heart to beat too fast.
On the other hand, less serious conditions are drinking caffeine, alcohol consumption, stress, heart physical exercise, or pregnancy.
Targeted Heart Rate
When you perform physical activity, your heart rate increase to a higher rate. However, when you are training or performing an exercise, it is important to note that you should not strain your heart.
While you do need to increase it to a certain number while exercising to provide more oxygen and energy for the rest of your body, however, too much strain can lead to complications.
When your heart rate increase to a higher level when exercising or performing a physical activity, an overall decrease in the target is possible over time.
This means that your heart is working less to get the important nutrients and oxygen to different parts of the body.
Thus making it more difficult.
Cardiovascular training aims to reduce the target heart rate however, the ideal target heart rate decreases as you age.
Interestingly, high-intensity workouts show the full capability of your heart and are normally reached with this type of workout.
According to the American Heart Association, AHA, your heart rate during exercise should be equal to 220 bpm minus your age.
This means that if you are 25 years of age then, 220-25 should be during exercise.
Targeted Heart Rate Zone
As the pulse from one person to another, so does the reaction of an individual’s body to exercise.
Moreover, it is a range known as the target heart rate zone.
The following table shows the appropriate zone for different range of ages.
It should fall within this range when exercising at 50 to 80% intensity, also known as exertion.
These are as follows:
Moreover, according to recommendations, you should exercise regularly to maintain a healthy target heart rate.
The AHA, recommends the following amounts and levels of exercise in a week:
Factors that affect your Heart Rate
Other than exercise or physical activity, certain factors can affect your heart rate.
These are as follows:
Weather: With high temperatures and humidity, it may go up.
Emotions: Certain emotions like stress or anxiety can increase pulse.
It can also be said when you are happy or sad.
Caffeine or Nicotine: Coffee, tea, or soda can increase it, as well as tobacco.
Standing up: When you stand up from the resting state, there might be a spike in your pulse for at least 20 seconds.
Body Size: In case you are obese you will have a slightly higher pulse than the normal one.
Medications: Certain medications like beta-blockers slow down your pulse.
Moreover, too much thyroid medication can speed up your pulse as well.
While it may vary from one person to another, it is important to know what slow and fast beats mean and what is dangerous and needs medical attention.
Fast heart Rate
When you have a fast heart rate, it is called Tachycardia.
For adults, it is over 100 beats in a minute. However, too fast a heart rate depends on your age and overall health.
There are different types of tachycardia and their classification depends on the cause and the part of the heart it is affecting.
Moreover, experiencing this may be temporary.
Some possible causes are underlying health conditions, anxiety or stress, fatigue, excess caffeine consumption.
Slow Heart Rate
When your heart rate is slow or low, it is called bradycardia. It is typically less than 60 beats in a minute.
For athletes and those who exercise regularly, a heart rate like this is normal and even healthy.
However, some possible causes of bradycardia are side effects of using certain medications, electrolyte imbalance, sleep apnea, or an underlying medical condition.
When to seek Medical Advice
Both tachycardia and bradycardia can be due to an underlying medical condition.
However, if you are experiencing either of these, you can have a condition that requires medical attention and treatment.
Tachycardia can be due to anemia, congenital heart disease, hyperthyroidism, or an injury to your heart from a heart attack.
While bradycardia can be due to damage to your heart, hypothyroidism, inflammatory diseases like lupus, congenital heart disease, or myocarditis.
In case you experience high or low pulse, for longer periods of time, it can be due to a potentially serious health condition and includes:
- Heart failure
- Blood clots
- Recurring fainting spells
- Sudden cardiac arrest
You should visit your doctor in case your heart rate is consistently above 100 bpm or below 60 bpm.
Things to Consider for Normal Heart Rate
It is important to aim for a healthy heart by doing regular exercise, eating different heart-related foods, avoiding alcohol, and managing your weight.
Moreover, regularly visiting your doctor for a checkup is not only beneficial for your overall health, but can also help in the early diagnosis of certain issues like high cholesterol levels, or blood pressure abnormalities.
However, if you have heart disease already, your should monitor your condition and follow the treatment plan.
Make sure to take all the medications and immediately report any new or worsening symptoms.
Some additional preventive health tips are:
- reduce stress with yoga or meditation,
- limit your caffeine intake as too much of it can increase your heart rate,
- reduce the intake of drinks,
- moderate or avoid drinking. Women and men over 65 should take only 1 drink a day, while men under 65 can have 2 drinks,
- quit smoking as it increases your heart rate.
- learn about the side effects of medications as they can also increase your heart rate, thus be aware of the possible side effects before taking any medicine,
- sleep well and enough and make sure you are not suffering from sleep apnea which is a common condition that can cause lapses in breathing while sleeping and can affect your heart rate.
People who regularly exercise and are less stressed generally have a lower resting heart rate.
Moreover, you should visit your doctor regularly for physical checkups and tests as it can help identify certain things like high cholesterol or blood pressure changes that you might not notice
Keep in mind that it varies from one person to another, thus it does not mean that if your friend or a family member has a varying number than you, then it means a medical emergency.
However, a pulse of more than 100 bpm or less than 60 bpm can be an indicator of an underlying medical condition. In such a case, seek medical advice from your doctor to avoid any complications.