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What Your Resting Heart Rate Can Teach You

Updated on July 22, 2018
Chuck Bluestein profile image

At age 16 I was a volunteer at a hospital bacteriology lab. I became a chemist for U.S. government. Then I studied health & related fields.

Measuring your Resting Heart Rate by Taking Your Pulse

This shows how to take your pulse to measure resting heart rate.
This shows how to take your pulse to measure resting heart rate.
2012 Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins is said to have a resting heart rate of 35. When the rest of his details are plugged in, he gets a fitness age of 'younger than 20'. He is 33 and his nickname is Wiggo.
2012 Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins is said to have a resting heart rate of 35. When the rest of his details are plugged in, he gets a fitness age of 'younger than 20'. He is 33 and his nickname is Wiggo. | Source
Chart about your resting heart rate (RHR) in beats per minute. Click on picture for better view.
Chart about your resting heart rate (RHR) in beats per minute. Click on picture for better view.

Learn What Your Resting Heart Rate (RHR) Means

This article was written November 6, 2013. It is easy to monitor your own resting heart rate (RHR) to see how healthy and fit your heart is.

It is a main measurement for life expectancy. This article has a link to where you can use it to calculate your life expectancy.

In the 3rd picture it links to a website that tells you how to take your pulse in beats per minute (bpm) to figure out your resting heart rate.

It also says:

A well-trained athlete can have a heart rate close to 40 beats per minute. Miguel Indurain, a five-time winner of Tour de France, had the lowest reported resting heart rate: 28 beats per minute!

People often say that a “healthy” heart rate is between 50-90 beats per minute. However, once you reach close to 90 beats per minute you are three times more likely to suffer from a stroke or heart attack than your peers with a lower heart rate!

Here is one thing that can be difficult to find. How does resistance training and cardiovascular exercise affect your heart? A study showed that resistance training causes the heart muscle to thicken. This is in response to the extra resistance to pump the blood through constricted arteries.

Cardiovascular exercise (cardio) causes the left ventricle of the heart to get bigger. This means that it can pump more blood with each beat and so your heart can have a lower resting heart rate. Both exercises are important to health since without resistance training the body loses muscle every year that you live. has an article saying High Heart Rate Tied to Earlier Death, Even in Fit People. It says:

"A high heart rate does not necessarily mean disease," he said. "But we know that there is a very strong and significant association between high heart rate and life expectancy."

According to previous research by Jensen and his colleagues, people with resting pulses of 80 beats per minute die four to five years earlier than those with pulses of 65 beats per minute.

Family Practice News has an article called High resting heart rate portends cognitive decline (article is no longer there). It says:

AMSTERDAM – A high resting heart rate proved to be a strong and independent predictor of cognitive decline within the next 4 years in a study of nearly 28,000 patients at high cardiovascular risk.

Here is a study done in Norway with Norwegians to show the effect of the resting heart rate on one's lifespan. It was done with 24 999 men and 25 089 women. It is on PubMed (U.S. National Library of Medicine and is called Combined effect of resting heart rate and physical activity on ischaemic heart disease: mortality follow-up in a population study (the HUNT study, Norway).

It explains the results saying that with women under 70 that for each increment of 10 more heart beats per minute of RHR it increased your risk of death from IHD (ischaemic heart disease) by 18%. With men there was a 10% increase in chance of dying for each increase of 10 beats per minute.

Ischaemic (or ischemic) heart disease is a disease that is characterized by reduced blood supply to the heart. It is the most common cause of death in most western countries. Ischaemia means a "reduced blood supply".

Here is a Danish study done in Copenhagen, Denmark with 2,798 subjects (males) that were followed for 16 years. It is also on PubMed (U.S. National Library of Medicine) so that you can see the original information instead of an interpretation of the results.

It is called the Elevated resting heart rate, physical fitness and all-cause mortality: a 16-year follow-up in the Copenhagen Male Study. It explains that the risk of mortality increased by 16% per 10 beats per minute (bpm) of a higher RHR.

The way that you lower your resting heart rate is by increasing your heart beats per minute with exercise. The reason that this works is the same reason that drugs do not work. Your body adapts to things like pushing your heart to beat faster by making it so it can beat slower.

The way that your body adapts to lifting heavy weights is making your muscles bigger and stronger so they can lift those heavy weights easier. The way that the body adapts to taking a drug is to create the opposite effect. So taking a sleeping pill will, over time, make it harder to get to sleep.

Taking a painkiller will over time, make you more sensitive to pain. Although there are herbal alternatives that do not do this since they do not force this effect on the body but give the body nutrients that it needs to assist it to do what it needs to do. A good example of an herb that is good for pain and inflammation is cherries.

Here is an article called Why Medications Do Not Really Work. It has Joel Fuhrman M.D. on the Dr. Oz show explaining why medications do not work and how foods can be used instead. Dr. Fuhrman is the country's leading expert on fasting.

Dr. Fuhrman is a vegan and knows a great deal about food. He created the ANDI (aggregate nutrient density index) scale used by Whole Foods markets. Here is an article called Prevent and Reverse Disease With a Plant-Based Diet.

A good cardiovascular exercise that combines aerobic and aneroebic exercise is the following. Note that the former is where you can exercise and not get out of breath and the latter is an exercise that is so intense that it causes you to get out of breath.

You can walk briskly for 40 minutes and every once in a while run as fast as you can for a minute. That will cause your heart beats per minute to get as high as possible. Of course they always say to consult your doctor before starting to exercise.

I do not recommend this since running on cement or asphalt can be high impact. Instead you can bicycle for 40 minutes or more and every one in a while cycle as fast as you can for a minute. Of course make sure to find a safe place to do this. has a good article called 5 Heart Rate Myths Debunked. It says:

To find your resting heart rate, press the index and middle fingers over the underside of the opposite wrist [see first picture above-- radial pulse], just below the thumb. Press down gently until you feel your pulse. Count the beats for one minute, or count for 30 seconds and multiply by two. To ensure an accurate reading, sit quietly for at least 10 minutes before taking your pulse.

Norwegian researchers recently reported [see study above] that for every 10-beat rise in resting heart rate, the risk of dying from a heart attack rose by 18% in women and by 10% in men. And a recent Japanese study showed that a resting heart rate higher than 80 beats per minute was associated with a greater risk of becoming obese or developing heart disease decades later. Diabetes and obesity are both risky for the heart.

And now without further delay just what you have been waiting for. Brought to you from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology is the fitness calculator. It gives you your estimated fitness age. It takes into account how often you exercise, the duration of the exercise and the intensity of the exercise.

It also takes into account your age, your waistline and your resting pulse (number of beats per minute). See Fitness Calculator. Please note that the VO2MAX (on this site) is the maximum amount of oxygen the body can use during a specified period of usually intense exercise that depends on body weight and the strength of the lungs—called also maximal oxygen consumption, maximal oxygen uptake, max VO2.

The first video below shows how to take the pulse using the radial pulse (on the wrist) or the carotid pulse (on the neck). On the second video the guy explains why is RHR is in the 40s. He talks about exercise and diet. He mentions consuming chia seeds that are a great vegetable source of omega-3 essential fatty acids. Unlike flaxseeds, they do not need to be ground up.

How to Take Your Pulse

Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, Revised Edition
Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, Revised Edition

By Joel Fuhrman M.D. The Eat To Live 2011 revised edition includes updated scientific research supporting Dr. Fuhrman's revolutionary six-week plan and a brand new chapter highlighting Dr. Fuhrman's discovery of toxic hunger and the role of food addiction in weight issues. This new chapter provides novel and important insights into weight gain. It explains how and why eating the wrong foods causes toxic hunger and the desire to over consume calories; whereas a diet of high micronutrient quality causes true hunger which decreases the sensations leading to food cravings and overeating behaviors. It instructs readers on how to leave behind the discomfort of toxic hunger, cravings, and addictions to unhealthy foods.



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