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Resting heart rate

Your resting heart rate is a good indication of your level of fitness. Using the resting heart rate is one way that your can check your current cardiovascular fitness, as well as your recovery rate from your previous bout of exercise.

Best time to find your resting heart rate

The best time to record a true resting heart rate is as soon as you wake up. At this point you haven't exercised at all and so any heart rate taken at this point will be your exact resting heart rate.

Many factors can affect your resting heart rate - illness, strenuous exercise, over training, stress, age or genetics.

Measuring the resting heart rate

To best access and analyise your resting heart rate, and exercising heart rate, invest in a heart rate monitor. The heart rate monitor strap is worn across the chest and the heart rate monitor watch picks up an electrical signal sent from the monitor.

Another way to measure the heart rate / pulse rate is to place the index and middle fingers across a major artery - either in the wrist or in the neck. The thumb should never be used to measure a pulse rate as the strong pulse in the thumb may interfere with the true measurement of the heart rate in the neck or wrist.

Normal resting heart rate

The heart rate (HR) is recording in beats per minute (bpm) and the average resting heart rate of humans is 70 beats per minute (70 bpm). One method of lowering your resting heart rate is via high level aerobic / cardiovascular exercise. Endurance athletes - cyclists, middle - long distance runners, rowers etc all have low resting heart rates, achieved by strengthening the heart and developing it's oxygen transfer efficiency via prolonged and intense exercise and fitness training.

Heart rate training zones

In practical terms the resting heart rate (RHR) can be used in conjunction with the maximum heart rate (MHR) to calculate exercise training zones.

To calculate your heart rate training zone for exercise simply:

  1. Subtract your resting heart rate from your maximal heart rate to give you a working heart rate (WHR).
  2. Then calculate an X percentage of the working heart rate to find a figure (Z)
  3. Add the Z figure to the resting heart rate (RHR) figure to find a heart rate for exercise.

Example heart rate training zones

For example, my resting heart rate is 38 and my maximal heart rate is 183. This means my personal working heart rate (WHR) is 145 beats per minute.

This means if I want to work out at 70% I need to find 70% of 145, then add this figure to my resting heart rate (RHR), which is 38bpm.

So, 70% of my maximal heart rate (MHR) is 139 beats per minute (bpm).

At 85% of my maximal heart rate (MHR) my heart rate should read 161 beats per minute (bpm).

Maximal heart rate

Using the calculation above does suggest that the user needs not only to know their resting heart rate but also their maximal heart rate.

Recording your maximal heart rate (MHR, also called STD, or HRmax) is best done via a cardiac stress test were the exercise gradually builds up the intensity of exercise on a treadmill, increasing the speed and / or gradient steadily in 1 minute intervals. At the point the exerciser can no longer continue due to exhaustion of their lungs rather than their legs will be the point at which the maximal heart rate will have been reached.

Age Predicted Maximum Heart Rate (APMHR)

There is another way of finding out your heart rate training zones by NOT monitoring your resting heart rate or finding your maximal heart rate; by Age Predicted Maximum Heart Rate (APMHR) calculation.

220 - age = Maximum heart rate *.

This will give you a general figure in which to begin to exercise at the correct intensity to burn fat and increase fitness.

*. Using the APMHR calculation may be inaccurate by up to 20 beats per minute.

Click here to find your Age Predicted Maximum Heart Rate and exercise training zones

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