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How to check your resting heart rate

How to check your resting heart rate
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Resting heart rate

Your resting heart rate, or pulse, is the number of times your heart beats per minute when you are at rest – such as when you are relaxed, sitting or lying down.

Resting heart rate varies from person to person. Knowing yours can give you an important sign of your heart health.

What is a normal resting heart rate?

For adults, a normal resting heart rate ranges between 60 and 100 beats a minute.

Usually, a lower resting heart rate means your heart is working more efficiently and is more fit.

For example, an athlete might have a resting heart rate of around 40 beats a minute.

How do I check my resting heart rate?

To check your heart rate:

  • Sit down and rest for 5 minutes.
  • Turn your wrist so your palm is facing up.
  • Then feel for a pulse at thumb side of your wrist.
  • Once you feel it, count how many times you feel a beat in 30 seconds. Then double it.

If you can’t find your pulse at your wrist, put two fingers on the side of your neck, next to the windpipe.

If you still can’t find a pulse, ask someone else to feel for you.

Which factors can influence heart rate?

Many things can affect your heart rate, including:

  • physical activity – if you’ve been moving around a lot, your heart rate will increase
  • fitness level – your resting heart rate may be lower if you’re very fit
  • air temperature – on hot days, your heart needs to pump more quickly
  • emotions – such as feeling stressed, overly excited or sad
  • medicines – some can decrease your resting heart rate (e.g. beta blockers), while others can increase it (e.g. thyroid medicines)
  • age – with age, the rate and regularity of your pulse can change and may be a sign of a heart problem.

If my heart resting heart rate is normal, is my blood pressure normal?

Your resting heart rate is not related to your blood pressure. The only way to check blood pressure is to measure it directly.

If my resting heart rate is slow, is it dangerous?

People can have a resting heart rate of 40 if they are very fit. But a slow pulse could also be a sign of problems. If you are not sure, or if you have been feeling faint, dizzy or short of breath, see your doctor.

If my resting heart rate is fast, is it dangerous?

A fast resting heart rate could be a sign of problems. See your doctor.

Last reviewed: December 2015

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