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How to Find Your Resting Heart Rate and What Your Resting Heart Rate Means

Fitness 101: Resting Heart Rate

When it comes to matters of the heart, numbers matter. The number of times your heart beats per minute, when you are at rest, indicates the strength and efficiency of your cardiovascular system. A strong heart is able to pump more blood with every beat, so you want a low resting heart rate (RHR). A lower RHR tends to correspond with a higher aerobic fitness level. Take Olympian Michael Phelps as an example; his resting heart rate is somewhere in the 30s, which is about half the normal RHR of the average American.

Figuring out your resting heart rate is easy; you just need to be able to count and a watch with a second hand. The time of the day is important, though. You will get the most accurate reading of your resting heart rate first thing in the morning. Here's how to do the test:

  1. Find your pulse at your wrist (the radial artery) or at your carotid artery in your neck.
  2. Using your index and middle finger, count the number of beats you feel in 10 seconds. Do not use your thumb since it has a light pulse that can confuse you while counting.
  3. Multiply the number of beats you count in 10 seconds by six to find the number of beats per minute. You can take your pulse three times, then take the average rate of all three to be super scientific.

Here's what your results mean:

  • 60 or less = Good
  • 61 to 80 = Average
  • 81 to 100 = High, but acceptable
  • 101 or more = Abnormally high and not good!

The great thing about this test is that as your RHR lowers, you know you are getting more fit!

Image Source: Thinkstock
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