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Calculating Resting Heart Rate


Knowing your resting heart rate gives you a great ideal of your fitness level. A low resting heart rate usually indicates you are physically fit. A slower rate means your aerobic system may be more efficient.  In contrast, a high resting rate may indicate that you are not in shape. Your heart may have to work harder to pump blood and oxygen throughout the body. Because checking your resting bpm is not difficult once you learn the correct procedure. If you are not sure, a fitness professional or physician can give you an accurate reading.   


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Heres How to Calculate your Resting Heart Rate

A true resting heart rate is obtained first thing in the morning when the body is completely relaxed before getting out of bed. If you are in the gym, sit down and remain quiet for 5-10 minutes prior to the test.


Resting heart rate may be taken at the radial artery at the wrist for a full minute for 30 seconds then multiply this by two for the minute value. After you calculate your resting heart rate, use the chart to see your results. 

When checking your heart rate, you must understand the correct technique to maintain accuracy. An inaccurate reading can affect the calculations of your target and maximum heart rate measurements. These measurements rely on the correct resting heart rate number. You may use the neck or wrist method to check your pulse.

Neck method:

1.  Place your index and middle finger in the groove on the side of your throat pipe. Move your fingers slightly until you find a beat.

2. Once you located a beat, count the amount of beats for 15 seconds.

3. Multiply the number of beat per 15 seconds times four for your resting heart rate.

Wrist Method (Preferred method):

1.  Place your middle and index fingertips on your opposite wrist, below the base of your thumb.

2.  Count the beats for 60 seconds to find your resting pulse rate. 

*Check the norms chart below:

resting heart rate chart


Heart rate chart (pdf format)  


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Why Resting Heart Rate Accuracy is Important

Calculating an accurate resting heart rate is important for four reasons:

1. It is often used in the calculation of exercise target heart rate for graded exercise test and exercise prescription.

2. It can provide a baseline value for comparison as cardiovascular fitness improves (with training, an individual's resting heart rate usually decreases as his/her stroke volume increases).

3. Resting heart rate is sometimes used to assess cardiovascular fitness, although caution should be used in assessing a person's cardiovascular fitness solely on the basis of his/her resting heart rate.

4. Normal resting heart rates are usually regular (no palpitations), and are between 60-100 beats/minute. If your client's resting heart rate is over 100 bpm, under 60 bpm, or is irregular, a physician should be consulted. an exception is the aerobically trained athlete; it is not ususual for athletes to have resting heart rate as low as 40 bpm.