What Is a Normal Resting Heart Rate and How Do I Check It?

Woman checking her heart rate

Your resting heart rate is one indicator of your overall health and wellness. It’s the pace at which your heart beats when you aren’t physically stressed. Doctors and nurses typically measure and refer to heart rate in beats per minute.

So, if you’re told that yours is 72, your heart muscle contracted 72 times in the 60 seconds during which they checked it. (Sometimes, a healthcare professional will count beats in a shorter period, like 30 seconds, and multiply to get the approximate beats per minute or bpm. See the section on calculating heart rate below.)

The Resting Heart Rate Range

A “healthy” heart rate varies from person to person based on numerous factors, including age, general health, fitness level, and others. Consequently, doctors consider a resting heart rate between 60 and 100 beats per minute normal. However, a rate outside that range can be normal for you. For example, some athletes have resting heart rates below 60 (as low as 40 bpm) because their heart muscle functions with high efficiency.

It’s crucial to understand that your heart rate can change significantly very quickly. For instance, if you are alarmed by an unexpected loud noise, your heart rate can spike temporarily. Factors like how hydrated you are, whether you’ve recently consumed caffeine or are taking certain medications, and others can affect your heart rate for varying lengths of time. That’s why healthcare professionals measure your heart rate when you’re calm and relaxed. They also typically ask questions about your health, medications, etc., in part to put your heart rate in context.

Tachycardia and Bradycardia

If your heart rate is regularly outside the normal range (and not for a known reason), you may have a health problem. A heart rate above 100 bpm is called tachycardia. A rate below 60 bpm is bradycardia. If you check your heart rate regularly and it’s outside the normal range, you should talk with your doctor. And if it’s ever far outside the parameters and you have concerns, you should seek immediate medical advice.

Normal Resting Heart Rates for Children and Teens

The normal resting heart rate range of 60 to 100 bpm is for healthy adults. From birth into the teen years, the range changes as follows.

  • Newborns (birth to 4 weeks): 100 to 205 beats bpm
  • Infants (4 weeks to 1 year): 100 to 180 bpm
  • Toddlers (1 to 3 years): 98 to 140 bpm
  • Preschoolers (3 to 5 years): 80 to 120 bpm
  • School-age children (5 to 12 years): 75 to 118 bpm
  • Adolescents (13 to 18 years): 60 to 100 bpm (the adult range)

Note that heart rates in newborns through toddlers are usually lower when sleeping than awake.

How to Check Your Heart Rate

You can measure your heart rate at home manually or by using devices. With either approach, you should be calm and relaxed, ideally with no recently consumed substances (like caffeine or medications) affecting your heart rate.

  • Manual pulse counting. As your heart beats, it produces detectable pulses in your blood vessels. The most common place to check heart rates is the radial artery in the wrist. To do that, lightly place the fingers of one hand on the underside of the other wrist below the thumb. (You can also find your pulse in other places, like your neck beside your windpipe.) Using a clock or timer, count the beats for 60 seconds. You can also count for 30 seconds and double the result or count for 15 seconds and multiply by 4.
  • Heart rate checking with devices. Many devices like smartwatches, fitness trackers, and medical heart rate monitors can detect and display your heart rate. Follow the directions for the device to get your resting bpm.

Talk with Baptist Health About Your Heart Rate

Your resting heart rate is one of several indicators of your overall health. Contact your Baptist Health physician if you have questions or concerns about it. If you don’t have a doctor, you can find one in our online provider directory.

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