All You Need to Know About Heart Rate

All You Need to Know About Heart Rate

When it is regarding your heart rate, it is somewhat like the speed of a car. Here, what you really want is not too fast or not too slow. Especially, it should not be erratic. Most of the time, the heart pace and rhythm should not be the things that you must be really worried about. If there is something that is unusual that is going on, then you must somewhat worry, especially when it is something regarding your heart.

Heart rate is important, why? It is because the function of the heart is important. The major function of the heart is to circulate the oxygen and nutrient rich filled blood all around the body. Most importantly, when the heart is not working properly, then everything i.e all the organs of the body gets affected. Heart rate is the central of this major process as a function of the heart (which is called as cardiac output) is somewhat directly related to the heart rate. Also, it is even related to the stroke volume (which is nothing but the amount of blood that is pumped out with each beat).

Things You Need to Know About Heart Rate

Irrespective of whether you are an athlete or not, the knowledge about your heart rate can simply monitor the fitness level you have. Sometimes it might assist in helping you find out the factors leading to health issues. First and foremost, you need to know what your heart rate is. It is the number of times your heart is beating per minute.

About normal heart rate, it varies from one person to another. Most importantly, knowing yours is quite necessary and important for heart health. And as you get older, the changes in the rate and even the regularity of the pulse will change. It might even signify the heart condition or any of the condition that might need to be address.

Where Is It & What Can Be the Normal Heart Rate?

The following are the best places where you can take your pulse –

  • Inside of your elbow
  • Wrist
  • Side of your neck
  • Top of the foot

For getting the most accurate reading, you need to put your finger right over the pulse. Then you need to count the number of beats which occurs in sixty seconds. Now you need to know is that the resting heart rate is nothing but your heart pumping the lowest amount of blood you need when you aren’t exercising.

If you are simply lying or sitting and are somewhat calm, relaxed, and not ill, then the heart rate will be somewhere between 60 beats per minute and 80 beats per minute. Now keep in mind that a heart rate less than 60 won’t necessarily mean that you have a medical problem. Sometimes it might be due to taking drugs like beta blocker. Most importantly, a lower heart rate is even common among people who are doing physical activity or ones who are extremely athletic.

Active people can even have lower resting heart rate, which can be as low as 40. This is because their heart muscles are in good condition and they won’t need to work as hard as they need to in order to maintain a steady beat. Keep in mind that a low or any kind of moderate amount of physical activity won’t simply change the resting pulse as much.

What Is A Normal Heart Rate?

According to doctors and physicians, a normal heart rate can be between 60 to 80 beats each minute. Now slower than 60 is termed as bradycardia (slow heart) and faster than 100 is called tachycardia (fast heart). However, there are certain experts who firmly believe that an ideal resting heart rate must be somewhat close to 50 to 70. Irrespective of what you might or largely considered as normal, it is necessary to be keep in mind that the healthy heart rate will simply be based on the situation.

For determining the heart rate, there are certain procedures. First you need to find the pulse. The easiest spot is the side of the neck or the front of the wrist. After that you need to count the number of beats in somewhat thirty seconds. And make sure to double it, which becomes your heart rate. Furthermore, to calculate one’s heart rate, the feeling of the pulse will give you an idea if the rhythm is irregular, regular or the mix of both.

What Is Slow Heart Rate?

Now among the healthy people, the slow heart rate might be due to –

  • A medication like metoprolol or propranolol
  • Being physically fit
  • Sleep (where the heart rate might rise while the REM stage of sleep)

Sometimes the slow rate of heartbeat can be a sign of disease like –

  • Heart attack or other kind of heart diseases like sick sinus syndrome
  • Certain kinds of infections (which can include Lyme disease or typhoid fever)
  • An underactive thyroid gland
  • High levels of potassium which is present in the blood (hyperkalaemia)

Defining Fast Heart Rate

Now healthy people will have faster heart rate as they are-

  • Exercising when it is rigorously or somewhat associated with dehydration
  • Nervous or Excited – in such case the heart rate might be more than 100 and it can be considered as abnormal. It might be expected if a tiger is coming your way.
  • Using stimulant like cocaine or caffeine
  • Pregnant

Disease Associated with Fast Heart Rate

Some of the major diseases associated with a fast heart are –

  • Just normal fever or infections
  • Heart problems or issues like cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia.
  • Anaemia
  • Certain medications like the EpiPen
  • Low levels of potassium present in the blood which is called as hypokalaemia
  • Asthma or other breathing issues
  • An overactive thyroid gland or too much thyroid medication

Heart Rate and Exercising

If you check any exercising guidelines, it clearly states that one needs to do moderate exercise. This can be for about 25-30 minutes each day. However, there might be a question that longs your mind, which or what exercise will qualify for a good health. Here in this case, you can use your heart rate as the basic decision or measure for exercise intensity.

Studies show that religious exercising will raise your heart rate to about 70% or 80% of the maximum heart rate.

When You Might Have to Worry About Your Heart Rate?

There are certain people who never think or notice about the rhythm or rate of their heart. Of course, there are individuals who really notice it and especially the minor irregularities (which is called as “skipped beat” or early beat, this happens to all of us).

If there aren’t any symptoms, then it is not an issue. Keep in mind that an abnormal heart rate or you can say rhythm will be easily found out during a physical examination, ECG, other kind of testing. This can be found in individuals who don’t have any symptoms.

Symptoms for A Slow Heart Rate

Following are some of the major symptoms related to slow heart rate –

  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to exercise
  • Light-headedness, dizziness, or fainting

Symptoms for A Faster Heart Rate

In case of the faster heart rate, the following are the symptoms you must keep in mind –

  • Dizziness, fainting or near fainting, light-headedness
  • fatigue
  • Palpitations or fluttering or pounding sensation in your chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling your heart racing
  • Chest pain or extreme tightness

As you can clearly see, most of the symptoms are simply overlapping. Among them many are related to common heart rate issues. Sometimes you might have doubts or queries related to your heart rate, in that case, talk to your doctor. Maybe she or he can be of certain assistance for you and help you with certain test or follow-up you need.

When Imbalance Heart Rate Is Dangerous?

As clearly stated, both the bradycardia and tachycardia are the major indicators of underlying health issues. Now if you are suffering from any one of these, you might be having an underlying condition which needs medical treatment and evaluation. Do you know what causes tachycardia. It is a congenital heart disease, anemia, heart disease affecting blood flow, hyperthyroidism, injury to the heart from heart attack, etc.

Similarly, bradycardia will be caused by conditions like damage to the heart (this is due to aging, heart attack or heart disease), congenital heart disease, inflammatory diseases like rheumatic fever or lupus, hypothyroidism, myocarditis – an infection to the heart, etc.

Sometimes you might experience a heart rate which can be either too low or high, especially for a long period of time. This can lead to serious health issues like –

  • Heart failure
  • Blood clots
  • Sudden cardiac arrest
  • Recurring fainting spells

Other Factors Affecting Heart Rate

  • Air Temperature: Sometimes, when the temperature as well as humidity soars, the heart will pump a little more blood. This will increase your pulse rate but not more than five to ten beats each minute.
  • Body Position: Sitting, resting or standing, the pulse will always be the same. Most of the time, when you are standing for the first 20 to 25 seconds, the pulse will go up a little bit. But after a couple of minutes, it will settle down.
  • Emotions: If you are anxious, stressed, or sometimes extraordinarily sad or happy, the emotions can simply raise your pulse.
  • Body Size: The size of the body won’t change one’s pulse. For some people who are obese, there is a high chance of having a higher resting pulse compared to the normal sized person. But this won’t be more than 100.
  • Medication Usage: There might be meds that can block your adrenaline (which is called as beta blockers). These tend to slow down your pulse while too much of thyroid medication will raise it.

Things to Learn from Heart Monitor

1) How Much Fitter You Are Becoming

Here it is all about your resting heart rate. You need to measure your resting heart rate over time. It will display to you if your fitness program works. Most importantly, you must know about your heart rate just before you start the fitness program.

Now if you have started the fitness program, and if there is a decrease in the resting heart rate over time, it means your fitness level is improving. With a good heart monitor, you can track your heart rate based on the fitness band you have, especially as soon as you wake up. At times you can even ask your physician on the resting heart rate and if it is in the healthy range based on your gender, age and weight.

2) How Hard You Need to Exercise

Now if your heart rate is not that high enough while working out, still you might not be getting the required benefit out of the exercise you are doing. Well, on the flip side, if your heart rate is quite high, then you are simply putting yourself into the risk of getting injured. By knowing your maximum heart rate, you can easily calculate your target heart rate while doing any vigorous and moderate exercises.

Here the maximum heart rate can be used for exercising more efficiently. All you must do is exercising which can be based on the calculation 220 minus the age or going for hands-on approach. You need to exercise rigorously and make sure you reach the maximum heart rate while working out.

Keep in mind that the examples of rigorous exercises can vary form a single person to another. However, it is the best means to self-monitor and track your RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) or see how hard you feel your body is working out.


Keeping track of your heart rate is important. This is especially when you want to live a healthy lifestyle. Most importantly for a good heart rate, you need to calm yourself and be in a stress-free environment. Never try to pressurize yourself into a situation that you can’t handle and make your heart rate to increase. In short, a good heart rate means a good lifestyle.


Saravavan Nadarajan (Vanan)

Vanan, fitness expert and leader at EzFit Singapore, specializes in holistic training—home-based, boot camps, and corporate fitness—with over a decade of industry experience.