A normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats a 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 a minute
I purchased a Garmin VIVOsmart+HR activity tracker on Boxing Day. It was discounted 50%, and I wanted to track my resting heart rate (RHR) more accurately.
I had been warned that wrist heart rate monitors are not as accurate as those worn on the chest. This has not been my experience. I have tested the device while exercising with a Garmin chest strap, and the results were comparable. I did notice that the VIVOsmart+HR was slower responding to increased effort but it got there correctly. And, my morning RHR is almost identical to that recorded with a blood pressure monitor I have.
I have checked my RHR regularly as an indication of cardiovascular fitness, and recovery. The lower my RHR the fitter I am (apparently), and the more rested I feel. So, I wanted a more accurate method of measuring it to better plan workout intensities, recovery techniques, and fitness progress throughout the season.
For the past week, I have recorded my RHR upon waking. It ranged from 38 bpm – 43 bpm, averaging 40 bpm. I was surprised. This is lower than it was when I was an athletic 30 year old. Or, that’s what I think. As a 30 year old, I wasn’t able to measure my RHR nearly as accurately.
A lower RHR is a good thing. It indicates that the heart is functioning efficiently, pumping more blood and oxygen throughout the body with less effort. And, we need oxygen to fuel muscles during exercise. That’s good. Right 🤔
I wonder how much of this is genetic. It seems that for most of my life I have had a low RHR. True, I have always been active, participating in aerobic activities including running, open water swimming, and cycling. If I hadn’t been, would I have the same RHR?
“As a general principle, the harder you train, the more effect you’ll see on the resting heart rate,” says Dr. Thomas Allison, director of stress testing at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “With exercise, the heart gets bigger so it pumps more blood with each beat. People that exercise a lot can lower their resting heart rate by 20 to 30 beats.” In other words, you can train your heart to work more efficiently by exercising.
Genetics influence resting heart rate, although researchers are still figuring out to what extent. A low RHR may actually be dangerous, a condition called sinus bradycardia. If you have a low rate, and do not exercise regularly, see your doctor.
Since I train regularly, and have for years, I can assume my relatively low RHR is a good thing, and an indication of both my current, and future cardiovascular health.
Have you tested your resting heart rate 🤔
These days I’m checking my RHR every frickin morning. But I do it the old fashioned way: I put my finger on my pulse and count beats for 15 seconds and multiply by four. I’m doing this because I have a new training program and my coach needs to know how I’m recovering. You really can tell from the RHR what the general situation is. When I’ve not recovered well and I’m fatigued, that resting heart rate goes right up there.
Oh…and RHR should be measured just as we wake up in the morning before we get out of bed.
That’s right. I just had a look at mine 😄 Today is test day for me and it looks like I’m ready.
Your base RHR is genetic, but how it changes depends on lifestyle. Also drops with age very slightly. People with naturally low RHR’s tend to make better endurance athletes. I’ve known pack a day smokers who measure 40-something BPM.
I got a FitBit for the same purpose and found the wrist measurement to be accurate enough. In the past 2 years of harder training mine has dropped from 62 to 56BPM. If it measures at 59, it’s rest time!
Does such a minor difference in resting HR mean rest time? I’ll have to start monitoring mine out of interest. Gotta love the data!
I know. It seems like a small difference. On the other hand, I have also been concentrating on recovery techniques, particularly rest, and nutrition. The VIVISmart+HR also tracks my sleeping patterns and I am averaging 9 hours of sleep a night, 5 of which are considered “deep”, the kind of sleep we not for full recovery.
I think my lack of deep sleep is hampering my recovery.
I have had to work at it. I have changed to warmer bedding and PJs so I can keep the window open all year. I have also kept to a consistent schedule (10 pm – 7 am). I find if I stay up late, or get up too early, my workouts suffer. And, I switched to a harder pillow.
I guess it’s personal. I find I can’t ride as hard if my RHR is elevated by a couple of beats. Maybe not total rest, but certainly some easier rides!
Thanks both, very interesting. I’ll start tracking my RHR and see how I get on.