By Bahar Gholipour, Nicoletta Lanese
Heart rates generally fall within a "normal" range, but vary person to person.
- Blood pressure vs. heart rate
- How to measure heart rate
- Resting heart rate
- Maximum and target heart rate
- Lowering a rapid heart rate
- Arrhythmia, tachycardia and other conditions
- Additional resources
Heart rate is the number of times a person's heart beats per minute (bpm). An average normal heart rate at rest for adults ranges from 60 to 100 bpm, according to the Mayo Clinic (opens in new tab).
The resting heart rate of an individual will vary depending on their age, body size, heart conditions and medication use, as well as the temperature of the air around them. Emotions can also affect one's heart rate; for example, getting excited or scared can increase the heart rate.
Getting fitter can lower one's heart rate, by making the heart muscles work more efficiently. A well-trained athlete may have a resting heart rate of 40 to 60 bpm, according to the American Heart Association (opens in new tab) (AHA). At the height of his career, cyclist Miguel Indurain reportedly had a resting heart rate of 28 bpm, according to Harvard Health (opens in new tab). You can actually use some of the best fitness trackers (opens in new tab) to monitor your heart rate – although the accuracy on these vary.
Related: 9 new ways to keep your heart healthy
"Your heart is a muscle and just like strengthening other muscles by doing activities, you can do the same thing with your heart," said Dr. Mary Ann Bauman, an internist at Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City.
Tracking your heart rate can help you monitor your fitness level, and it may help you spot developing health problems if you are experiencing an unusually fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat. Learn about heart rate variability (opens in new tab) or read on to discover more about normal heart rates.
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|Age||Target heart-rate zone||Max heart rate (Average)|
|20 years||100 to 170 bpm||200 bpm|
|25||98 to 166 bpm||195 bpm|
|30||95 to 162 bpm||190 bpm|
|35||93 to 157 bpm||185 bpm|
|40||90 to 153 bpm||180 bpm|
|45||88 to 149 bpm||175 bpm|
|50||85 to 145 bpm||170 bpm|
|55||83 to 140 bpm||165 bpm|
|60||80 to 136 bpm||160 bpm|
|65||78 to 132 bpm||155 bpm|
|70||75 to 128 bpm||150 bpm|
Blood pressure vs. heart rate
Some people confuse high blood pressure with high heart rate. Blood pressure is a measurement of the force of the blood against the walls of arteries, while heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute. You can measure your heart rate by taking your pulse, which reflects how often the arteries expand and contract in response to the heart beating, according to MedicalNewsToday (opens in new tab); heart rate and pulse rate are equal to each other, so the terms are often used interchangeably.
There is no direct correlation between blood pressure and heart rate, so having high blood pressure, or hypertension, does not necessarily result in having a high pulse rate, and vice versa. Heart rate goes up during strenuous activity, but a vigorous workout may only modestly increase blood pressure.
How to measure heart rate
The easiest places to measure your heart rate, according to the AHA, are:
- inside of an elbow
- side of the neck
- top of the foot
For an accurate reading of your pulse rate, put two fingers over one of the areas listed above and count the number of beats in 60 seconds. You can also do this for 20 seconds and multiply by three, which may be easier, Bauman told Live Science. Note that using your thumb may be confusing because sometimes you can feel a pulse in the thumb, she said.
You can also use one of the best budget fitness trackers (opens in new tab) to get a reading, but the accuracy on these devices varies.
Resting heart rate
Your resting heart rate is the number of times your heart beats in a minute when you are calmly sitting or lying down. It’s best to measure your resting heart rate in the morning before you get out of bed, according to the AHA.
For adults 18 and older, a normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 bpm, depending on the person’s physical condition and age. For children ages 6 to 15, the normal resting heart rate is between 70 and 100 bpm, according to the AHA.
But having a heart rate lower than 60 bpm doesn’t necessarily mean you have a medical problem. Active people often have lower heart rates because their heart muscles don't need to work as hard to maintain a steady beat. Athletes and people who are very fit can have resting heart rates of 40 bpm or lower.
One's resting heart rate can also dip below 60 bpm as a result of taking certain medications. "Many medications people take — especially medication for blood pressure, such as the beta blockers — will lower your heart rate," Bauman said.
That said, if it's coupled with worrisome symptoms, a low heart rate may signal a problem. " A low heart rate in somebody who is having dizziness and lightheadedness may indicate that they have an abnormality that needs to be looked at," Bauman said. For example, bradycardia is a condition where the heart rate falls too low, typically under 60 bpm; this can be the result of problems with the sinoatrial node, which acts as the heart's pacemaker, or damage to the heart as a result of a heart attack or cardiovascular disease.
Related: Top 10 amazing facts about your heart
On the other end of the spectrum, a consistently high heart rate can put too much stress on the heart and other organs. If a person has a high heart rate at rest and is experiencing other symptoms, doctors may need to examine his or her heart function, Bauman said.
In general, a resting heart rate above 90 bpm is considered high, according to Harvard Health (opens in new tab). In a 10-year study of more than 29,000 people, published in 2011 in The Journal of the American Medical Association (opens in new tab), those whose heart rates rose from less than 70 bpm to more than 85 bpm over the course of the decade were 90% more likely to have died by the study's end, compared to those whose heart rates started and stayed below 70 bpm.
Maximum and target heart rate
Monitoring your heart rate during workout sessions can help you determine whether you are doing too much or not enough, the AHA says. When people exercise in their "target heart zone," they maximize the cardiovascular benefits of their workout; that's because, when your heart rate is in the target zone, "you are pushing the muscle to get stronger," Bauman said.
A person's target heart rate zone is between 50% and 85% of their maximum heart rate, according to the AHA (opens in new tab). Most commonly, maximum heart rate is calculated by subtracting your age from 220. So for a 30-year-old person, for example, the maximum heart rate would be 190 bpm: 220 – 30 = 190.
The target zone for a 30-year-old person would therefore lie between 50 and 85% of 190:
- 50%: 190 x 0.50 = 95 bpm
- 85%: 190 x 0.85 = 162 bpm
For a 60-year-old person, the target zone would be between 80 and 136 bpm.
You can either manually calculate your heart rate during exercise or use heart rate monitors that wrap around the chest, or are included in sports watches. However, that's not to say that exercising without getting the heart rate up to the target zone has no benefit, Bauman said. It just doesn't challenge the heart to its fullest extent.
Related: Heart rate monitors: How they work
Lowering a rapid heart rate
Heart rates can spike due to nervousness, stress, dehydration and overexertion. Sitting down, taking slow, deep breaths and rehydrating can help lower your heart rate in these instances.
In the long-term, maintaining a regular exercise schedule can help to lower — and then maintain — your resting heart rate over time. Smoking cigarettes raises the heart rate, in part due to nicotine's effects on the circulatory system’s blood vessels, so quitting smoking can also help lower one's heart rate to a healthy range, according to Harvard Health.
To lower your heart rate in a healthy way after exercise, the AHA and Mayo Clinic (opens in new tab) recommend that you "cool down" by continuing to move for about 5 to 10 minutes, but at a slower pace and reduced intensity compared with the rest of your workout. For instance, Mayo suggests the following cool down activities:
- To cool down after a brisk walk, walk slowly for five to 10 minutes.
- To cool down after a run, walk briskly for five to 10 minutes.
- To cool down after swimming, swim laps leisurely for five to 10 minutes.
Cooling down after a workout helps gradually bring your heart rate down to pre-exercise levels, thus helping you avoid potential feelings of dizziness or nausea that can occur when the heart rate falls too rapidly. It's unclear whether including a cool down in your workout helps to prevent muscle stiffness or soreness after exercise, but more research is needed in this area, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Arrhythmia, tachycardia and other conditions
A number of conditions can affect your heart rate. In general, an "arrhythmia" describes a heart rate that's too fast, too slow or irregular.
While bradycardia describes when the heart rate is too low, tachycardia describes when one's heart rate is too high, which generally means the resting heart rate exceeds 100 bpm, according to the National Institutes of Health (opens in new tab). This generally occurs when electrical signals in the heart's upper chambers fire abnormally.
If the heart rate is closer to 150 bpm or higher, it is a condition known as supraventricular tachycardia (SVT). In SVT, the electrical system that controls heart rate becomes dysfunctional. This generally requires medical attention.
- Watch "What is a Heart Health Check?" from the Heart Foundation (opens in new tab)
- Read about "3 Kinds of Exercise That Boost Heart Health" from Johns Hopkins Medicine (opens in new tab)
- Learn "How to Feel Your Heart Beat" with SciShow Kids (opens in new tab)
Editor's note: This article was last updated on Dec. 13, 2021.
Additional reporting by Kim Ann Zimmermann, Live Science contributor.
Originally published on Live Science.
Bahar Gholipour is a staff reporter for Live Science covering neuroscience, odd medical cases and all things health. She holds a Master of Science degree in neuroscience from the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Paris, and has done graduate-level work in science journalism at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She has worked as a research assistant at the Laboratoire de Neurosciences Cognitives at ENS.
What is a normal heart rate? ›
A normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute. Generally, a lower heart rate at rest implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness. For example, a well-trained athlete might have a normal resting heart rate closer to 40 beats per minute.What is a good heart rate by age? ›
|Age||Normal Resting Heart Rate|
|Children 3 to 4 years old||80 to 120 bpm|
|Children 5 to 6 years old||75 to 115 bpm|
|Children 7 to 9 years old||70 to 110 bpm|
|Children 10 years and older and adults (including seniors)||60 to 100 bpm|
A resting pulse rate of 120 BPM in adults would be considered high, while a heart rate between 60 beats per minute (BPM) and 100 BPM is normal for people 15 years and older. The pulse rate, also called your heart rate, is the number of times the heartbeats per minute (BPM). Your pulse can be felt on your: Wrists.What is the average normal heart rate quizlet? ›
Normal pulse rate for adults is 60 to 100 beats per minute.What is an unhealthy heart rate? ›
You should visit your doctor if your heart rate is consistently above 100 beats per minute or below 60 beats per minute (and you're not an athlete), or you're also experiencing: shortness of breath. fainting spells. lightheadedness or dizziness.What is an unsafe heart rate? ›
Abnormal Heart Rates or Heart Beats reflect the cardiac conditions of the body. If unnoticed and untreated, this can sometimes be fatal. Conditions when the heartbeat goes beyond 120-140 beats per minute or falls below 60 beats per minute, can be considered dangerous, and immediate doctor's intervention is a must.What is a good pulse rate for a 70 year old? ›
60 years: 80 to 136 beats per minute. 65 years: 78 to 132 beats per minute. 70 years: 75 to 128 beats per minute.What is a dangerously low heart rate for elderly? ›
What is bradycardia? Bradycardia is a condition where your heart beats fewer than 60 times per minute, which is unusually slow. This condition may be dangerous if it keeps your heart from pumping enough blood to meet your body's needs.At what heart rate should you go to the hospital? ›
If you're sitting down and feeling calm, your heart shouldn't beat more than about 100 times per minute. A heartbeat that's faster than this, also called tachycardia, is a reason to come to the emergency department and get checked out. We often see patients whose hearts are beating 160 beats per minute or more.When is heart rate too high? ›
In adults, the heart usually beats between 60 and 100 times per minute. Doctors usually consider a heart rate of over 100 beats per minute to be too fast.
Can anxiety cause high heart rate? ›
Anxiety sets off the body's “fight or flight” response as part of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). When you feel uneasy about a situation, your ANS kicks in, increasing your heart rate.What happens when your heart rate is above 120? ›
Heart rates that are consistently above 100, even when the person is sitting quietly, can sometimes be caused by an abnormal heart rhythm. A high heart rate can also mean the heart muscle is weakened by a virus or some other problem that forces it to beat more often to pump enough blood to the rest of the body.What does your average heart rate say about you? ›
What Your RHR Means. A “normal” RHR falls between 60 and 100 beats per minute. An RHR under 60 can indicate that you're more physically fit and may be associated with better heart function. An RHR that is above 100 beats per minute can reflect exposure to stress, excessive caffeine consumption or an illness.What is the heart rate quizlet? ›
Heart Rate. A measure of cardiac activity usually expressed as the number of beats per minute.What determines a normal resting heart rate quizlet? ›
Palpating the number of pulses in a minute is a common method of determining heart rate (beats per minute). The normal pacing ability of the sinoatrial node is 60-100 beats per minute which is considered a normal range for a regular heartbeat.What is the safest high heart rate? ›
You can estimate your maximum heart rate based on your age. To estimate your maximum age-related heart rate, subtract your age from 220. For example, for a 50-year-old person, the estimated maximum age-related heart rate would be calculated as 220 – 50 years = 170 beats per minute (bpm).What is a good sleeping heart rate? ›
Between 40 to 50 beats per minute (bpm) is considered an average sleeping heart rate for adults, though this can vary depending on multiple factors.Does lower heart rate mean longer life? ›
Studies have consistently shown that a lower resting heart rate, at least down to 40 bpm, is associated with a longer life span, both in comparisons between individuals and between species. For every 20 additional beats per minute of resting heart rate, mortality increases by 30–50 percent.What is a normal heart rate for a woman? ›
For most healthy adult women and men, resting heart rates range from 60 to 100 beats per minute. However, a 2010 report from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) indicated that a resting heart rate at the low end of that spectrum may offer some protection against heart attacks.What is the average blood pressure for a 70 year old? ›
Elderly blood pressure range for men and women
The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) updated their guidelines in 2017 to recommend men and women who are 65 or older aim for a blood pressure lower than 130/80 mm Hg.
What is normal blood pressure for elderly? ›
ELDERLY BLOOD PRESSURE RANGES
Recently, the American Heart Association (AHA) updated their guidance to indicate that people age 65 and older should ideally have a blood pressure reading lower than 130/80 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury).
Your maximum heart rate is about 220 minus your age.Can you live with a heart rate of 40? ›
Bradycardia is a slower than normal heart rate (below 60 beats per minute (bpm)). If you're sleeping or if you're a young, healthy adult or very fit, it can be normal to have a heart rate of 40 – 60 bpm. Bradycardia can cause you to feel faint, dizzy, short of breath, fatigued or have chest pain.Is it okay to have a heart rate below 40? ›
Unless you feel tired, dizzy, or weak, there's usually no cause for concern, especially because it sounds like you're in good physical shape. Endurance athletes and other people who exercise a great deal often have lower-than-average heart rates, sometimes even below 40 beats per minute.What is senior citizen heart rate? ›
55 years of age 83-140 beats per minute. 60 years of age 80-136 beats per minute. 65 years of age 78-132 beats per minute. 70 years of age 75-128 beats per minute.Will drinking water lower heart rate? ›
A 2017 study found that a 335-milliliter drink of water could reduce resting heart rate over a 30-minute period. This decline continued for another 30 minutes. Drinking plenty of beverages throughout the day could lower a person's heart rate.
Yes. For the same reason dehydration can cause low blood pressure, it can also cause heart palpitations. Palpitations are the feeling of a pounding, fast-beating or fluttering heart. When blood volume is decreased, the heart has to beat faster to try to continue to deliver oxygen to your organs.How do you calm a racing heart? ›
- Reduce stress. Try relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga or deep breathing.
- Avoid stimulants. Caffeine, nicotine, some cold medicines and energy drinks can make the heart beat too fast or irregularly.
- Avoid illegal drugs.
The relationship between heart rate and blood pressure is location-dependent. As discussed above, there is a direct relationship between heart rate and peripheral blood pressure. However, a number of studies have demonstrated an inverse relationship between heart rate and central blood pressures.What causes heart rate to go up? ›
Stress, exercise, or even too much alcohol or caffeine can cause your heart to beat faster than normal. But if your heart races a lot—or if you notice your heartbeat is often irregular—then you should see a doctor.
What causes a fast heart rate? ›
Strong emotional responses, such as stress, anxiety or panic attacks. Depression. Strenuous exercise. Stimulants, including caffeine, nicotine, cocaine, amphetamines, and cold and cough medications that contain pseudoephedrine.When should I be worried about my heart rate? ›
A number of things can cause a rapid heart rate (tachycardia). If you feel like your heart is beating too fast, make an appointment to see a health care provider. Seek immediate medical help if you have shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting or near fainting, and chest pain or discomfort.How do you tell if it's anxiety or heart problems? ›
The difference is that, when extra heartbeats in the upper and lower chambers are the cause of abnormal rhythm, symptoms may feel like an initial skip or hard thumping beat followed by a racing heart. When anxiety is the trigger, heart rate typically increases steadily rather than suddenly.How do I know if my heart rate is anxiety? ›
Typical signs of anxiety include feelings of nervousness and tension, as well as sweating and an uneasy stomach. One other common symptom of anxiety is an abnormally increased heart rate, also known as heart palpitations. Heart palpitations can feel like your heart is racing, pounding, or fluttering.Does high blood pressure increase heart rate? ›
People with hypertension typically have an elevated heart rate. An increased pulse is also associated with the development of hypertension. But some people with high blood pressure have a slow heart rate (bradycardia). This may happen due to specific medications, thickened heart tissue, or certain injuries.What causes high heart rate at rest? ›
Common causes of a fast resting heart rate include stress, certain medical conditions, and pregnancy. Supplements, caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco can also lead to an accelerated heart rate.Why is my heart beating so hard at night? ›
Heart palpitations at night usually aren't harmful. Many factors, including alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, stress or hormones can cause them. Less often, they result from a health condition such as heart disease or a thyroid disorder.What heart rate is considered high? ›
The usual range for resting heart rate is anywhere between 60 and 90 beats per minute. Above 90 is considered high. Many factors influence your resting heart rate.What is a high heart rate for a woman? ›
What is a dangerous heart rate for women? A heart rate consistently above 100 beats per minute when you're not exercising may indicate a dangerous health condition.Is 110 heart rate normal? ›
Normally, your heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute when you're not active. When your heart beats more than 100 times a minute at rest, that's tachycardia. Because your heart beats too often, it doesn't have the time it needs to fill with blood between beats.
When should you go to the hospital for a rapid heart rate? ›
A number of things can cause a rapid heart rate (tachycardia). If you feel like your heart is beating too fast, make an appointment to see a health care provider. Seek immediate medical help if you have shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting or near fainting, and chest pain or discomfort.What should your blood pressure be? ›
A normal blood pressure level is less than 120/80 mmHg. No matter your age, you can take steps each day to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range.