Your RHR is simply the average rate at which your heart beats per minute, at rest. The best time to take your RHR is first thing in the morning – before it can be affected by activity, caffeine, etc. Take it at the same time, three days in a row and calculate an average for a more precise reading. If you don’t have a heart rate monitor at home, the best way to do this is to count your pulse over 15 seconds and multiply it by 4.
Although it’s only a rough guideline, the average RHR for 18-25 year olds is around 74-78 beats per minute, for 26-35 year olds it’s 73-76, for 36-45 year olds it’s 74-78, for 46-55 year olds it’s 74-77 and for 56-65 year olds it’s 74-77. Those who exercise regularly will of course have lower RHR than this.
So what can affect your RHR?
Exercise. The heart is a muscle and needs exercise to stay efficient. Regular aerobic exercise can strengthen your heart and reduce your resting heart rate. Losing excess weight can also help to relieve stress on your heart.
Stress and anxiety. "Stress tends to lead to an increase in heart rate," says Maureen Talbot, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation. "Some people thrive on stress but sustained periods of stress, and therefore having an increased heart rate over a long period of time, can mean the heart is working too hard." Learning ways to manage your stress, through exercise, meditation, yoga or mindfulness can help to reduce your RHR.
Caffeine. Your heart rate may be faster than it should be if you are sensitive to caffeine. For some people too much coffee, soft drinks with caffeine or energy drinks can noticeably increase heart rate. If this is the case, consider caffeine free alternatives such as water, or fruit and herbal teas.
Hydration. Your hydration levels can have an effect on your heart rate; a classic sign of dehydration is a fast heart beat. "Dehydration leads to a reduction in circulating [blood] volume so the heart may need to beat faster to ensure it [blood] gets to the vital organs," says Maureen.
Find out more about your RHR and how to optimise your health and well-being with our Health Pit Stops – contact the Health Club reception desk to find out more and to book your free check.