We aren’t all striving to be world-class endurance athletes…I know I’m not. Even so, resting heart rate, or RHR, is an extremely useful metric to track your overall health.
Let’s take a brief second to define exactly what resting heart rate is, even though it is rather self-explanatory. Resting heart rate is a measure of the number of heart beats per minute when the body is at complete rest. The American Heart Association defines a “normal” resting heart rate being between 60-100 beats per minute. We will soon find out that coming in under 60 beats per minute is a good thing.
Is Lower Better?
In general, the lower your resting heart rate, the better “shape” your heart is in. A low resting heart rate is a sign of a strong heart muscle that can pump more blood with each beat. Physical fitness is correlated to the strength of your heart.
So What if Yours is High?
It could be a sign of a weak heart, but that’s not always the case. It is important to note that women generally have a higher heart rate compared to men. But what else can be contributing to a high resting heart rate? Things like overtraining, sleep deprivation, stress, anxiety, caffeine, smoking, alcohol, illness, and even medications can increase resting heart rate. But, even still, it could mean that you need to exercise more.
You can lower your resting heart rate through a number of lifestyle interventions including exercise, effective sleep, meditation, proper nutrition, avoiding alcohol, and hydrating well.
What Should You Do Now?
It’s not enough to just take your resting heart rate on a random day and compare it to the “norm.” To begin, what is normal for you may not be normal for someone else. Rather than compare yourself to the general population, it is a better practice to compare yourself to yourself. Always look to improve. Typically, resting heart rate increases each year after our 40th birthday. It doesn’t have to! Tracking your resting heart rate on a daily basis can provide valuable insight into how your fitness levels are changing as well as how you are handling the stresses life is throwing at you.
When I first began using self-quantification devices back in May 2018, my average resting heart rate was 53 beats per minute. Today, my average resting heart rate over the past three months is 46 beats per minute. What does this mean? It means that as I aged 2 years older, my cardiovascular fitness level improved. My heart is stronger now at age 32 than it was at age 30. What did I change? Just about everything…
Elevations in resting heart rate from one night to the next can indicate inadequate sleep, poor exercise recovery, and can even be an initial sign of oncoming illness. We welcomed our third child to the world six weeks ago. If you have children, you know exactly just how that can affect your sleep quality and stress levels. She was born on April 9th. My average resting heart rate from March 9th-April 9th was 45 beats per minute and since her birth has averaged 48 beats per minute. Has my heart become weaker? Probably not, but these are signs that I need to prioritize sleep, stress-management, and proper nutrition now more than ever.
Do You Really Need Another Device?
Absolutely not. You do not NEED to purchase a new piece of tech to keep track of this. But doing so requires no effort and can lead you and motivate you to make informed decisions to optimize your health. In order to prevent something, you have to be proactive. I use an Oura Ring. There are others out there, but I have found this ring to be helpful and you don’t have to become a “member” and pay a monthly subscription.
Do you know the answers to these questions: “What is your average resting heart rate?” “How has your resting heart rate changed over the past two years?” If you don’t have answers, maybe now is the time to figure it out. Today may be the day to take control of your health.