One way to assess your basic overall health is by finding out if your resting heart rate falls within the range of the normal heart rate for men at rest. The heart rate is the average number of times your heart beats per minute, and the resting heart rate is when it is measured while you are completely at rest. It is useful to know if your resting heart rate falls under the normal range, since if it measures exceedingly high or low, you will know to visit your doctor in case there is a medical condition about which you are unaware.
Generally your resting heart rate slows down as you age. The normal range for babies is about 100 to 160 beats per minute (bpm), followed by children under ten years old at 60 to 140, and everyone older than that at about 60 to 100. The resting heart rate for men tends to be slightly lower than in women, due to the fact that women have smaller hearts, and therefore need to pump faster in order to pump a comparable amount of blood. The average resting heart rate for men is usually considered to be at the 70 bpm mark, while that of women is about 75 bpm. The one exception are athletes, who may be so well trained that their resting heart rates are as low as 30 or 40 bpm. An athlete-or very fit person-has developed a stronger heart that can pump more blood and oxygen in one heartbeat than the average person, therefore it does not need to pump as many times.
When testing your own heart rate at rest, it is best to do it when you first get up from bed. You can use a heart rate monitor if you have one, or do it by taking your pulse on either your carotid artery on the neck or the radial artery on the wrist. If you take your pulse, use your index and middle fingers only, since the thumb has its own pulse. Place your fingers on one of the arteries mentioned above, and count the beats for either ten or fifteen seconds. Then do the appropriate multiplication to arrive at a minute’s worth: if you did a ten second count, multiply by six, and if you did a fifteen second count, multiply by four. For the most accurate results, repeat this routine three mornings in a row, then take the average of the three results, and you’ll have discovered your resting heart rate.
There are factors that may elevate your resting heart rate. The most obvious may be stress, but nutrition may also affect it, and dehydration will greatly increase your heart rate. Other causes may be altitude and heat, which your body will adapt to after several days. However, if your resting heart rate is consistently higher or lower than the normal range, don’t assume it is being caused by something unimportant. Pay a visit to your doctor, since it is best to play it safe, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.