Your Heart Rate & What It Means

As of lately it has been a race in the tech community to create smart trackers that will take precise measurements to monitor your heart rate. I find that many people are scrambling to own one of these devices, but don’t fully understand what to do with the data they collect and present for you.

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What does a normal heart rate look like?

HeartRateAgeWhen referring to anything health-related the word “normal” is hard to use. I say this because there was a time when it was thought that everyone’s blood pressure should be very close to 120 over 80, and if this number varied then you need an intervention to override the system. Modern science tells us that blood pressure can vary from these numbers quite a bit and it will still be fine. The same thing goes for heart rate. “Normal” will vary from person to person. Your heart rate slows down and speeds up throughout the day to accommodate the need for oxygen to the body systems; however, an unusually high or low heart rate may indicate the risk of heart attack or even death.

The best times to measure your heart rate are either at night before you go to sleep or first thing in the morning upon waking. Determine your heart rate a couple of ways. If you have a smart tracker like an Apple Watch, Fitbit, or one of the many trackers on the market then simply watch the data on the device. If you do not have a smart tracker, you can detect your pulse the old school way.

Simply place your index and middle finger together gently on your wrist just below the fat pad of the thumb. If you don’t feel the pulse then slightly move your finger placement and try again. Once you detect a light throbbing start a timer and you can either monitor the pulse for the full sixty seconds, or go to 30 seconds and double that number. (ex. Your pulse at 30 seconds is 40 then your heart rate is 80)

Your Resting Heart Rate

Your resting heart rate is a measurement of your heart beats per minute while you are sleeping or in a relaxed state without activity. Referencing the same chart that we utilized above you can determine for your age where you should fall in a resting state. Which of course would be in the lower range for in the target heart rate section. Research has shown that a resting heart rate in the lower range may offer protection against future heart attacks. Conversely, a high resting heart rate is linked to cardiovascular disease.

Your Maximum Heart Rate

The maximum heart rate is the upper limit in which your heart can handle during physical exercise. Your maximum heart rate occurs when you body is under stress and working hard. This means that your oxygen needs are high, demanding your heart to work faster.  Those who have a high aerobic capacity (this means you are fit) are considered to be at a lower risk for heart attack or death. It is recommended that you know your maximum heart rate or “zone” when working out to get the most out of your aerobic activity. Your Maximum Heart Rate is roughly calculated as 220 minus your age. Additionally, it is recommended that you exercise within 55 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate for at least 20 to 30 minutes to get the best results from aerobic exercise.

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Now that you better understand the new fitness trackers’ measurements, you can begin pushing limits you never knew existed. Whether you’re trying to optimize your resting heart rate, or maximum heart rate, you should always strive for improvement.

If you have any questions please post them below! I would love to learn about how your fitness tracker has or hasn’t helped to improve your life.