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What's a normal heart rate?



Aug 11, 2010
If you're an adult, your heart beats somewhere between 50 and 90 times per minute at rest, regardless of your age or sex. Superfit athletes usually have lower heart rates -- as low as 40 or 50 beats per minute -- and smokers, overweight people, and people with high blood pressure often have heart rates that are higher than the norm.

How can I measure my heart rate?

The easiest way to measure your heart rate, or pulse, is with a heart-rate monitor, which senses your heartbeat with a band that goes around your chest and displays a number on a wristwatch-like gadget. You can find these monitors, which cost $50 to $200, at most sporting-goods stores and many specialized Web sites that sell sports equipment.

If you don't have a heart-rate monitor, you can measure your pulse the old-fashioned way. First, find your pulse in your wrist or neck.

Wrist: Hold one hand (preferably the one without a watch) in front of you, with your palm turned upward. Press the first two fingertips (index and middle) of your other hand on the outer edge of your upturned wrist (under the thumb, just below the place where your hand meets your wrist),until you can feel a strong beat. Don't use your thumb to feel for your pulse, because you can often feel a pulse in it as well. Neck: Press your first two fingertips against the side of your neck, just below your jawbone and about halfway between your ear and your chin, until you feel a strong beat. Make sure you press gently; some experts believe that pressing hard on your neck can slow down your pulse.

Once you know how to take your pulse, look at your watch or put a clock in clear view and wait for the second hand (or the second display on a digital watch) to reach the next quarter-minute. Count your pulse beats for 15 seconds; then take that number and multiply by four to get your heart rate (the number of times your heart beats in a minute).

Can you push your heart too hard?

You can. Your maximum heart rate is a guideline that tells you how hard your heart can possibly beat. The rule of thumb: Subtract your age from 220. If you're a 35-year-old, for example, your maximum heart rate is about 185. This is an estimate of how fast your heart is capable of going.

How fast should my heart beat when I'm exercising?

If you're beginning an exercise program, try to stay within your target heart-rate zone so that you get a good cardiovascular workout without overexerting yourself. The zone is ordinarily 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. Keep to the lower end of this range for a few weeks if you're starting a new fitness routine and gradually ramp up to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. Only very fit people should aim for more than 70 percent of their maximum heart rates while exercising. Remember, a heart rate table can only give you a rough estimate of your heart rate while exercising. If you feel that the heart rate in the table is too hard or too easy for you, use the "talk test." If you're at the lower end of your target zone you should be able to talk easily but still feel like you're putting in some effort into your workout. At the upper end of your zone it should start to become difficult to carry on a conversation or sing a song. To doublecheck, take a short break halfway through your workout and measure your pulse as described above.

This table can give you a rough idea of what to shoot for. It assumes that you are upright and your feet are touching a level surface while you work out (that is, that you're walking, running, or using a treadmill or similar machine). If you're bicycling or spinning, subtract five beats from the target number; if you're swimming, subtract 10.

50% of Max (beginner) 70% of Max (intermediate) 85% of Max


20-29 100 140 170

30-39 95 133 162

40-49 90 126 153

50-59 85 119 145

60-69 80 112 136

70-79 75 105 128

It's best to tailor your exercise heart rate to how you feel while exercising. If you're a smoker or if you have hypertension or heart disease, talk to your doctor or a certified trainer about a target heart rate that's right for you.
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The Veganator
Dec 23, 2012
I've been told anywhere between 50-70bpm is pretty normal RHR for an adult in a rested state.

I'm not normal lol.


Beard of Knowledge VIP
May 6, 2013
I've been told anywhere between 50-70bpm is pretty normal RHR for an adult in a rested state.

I'm not normal lol.
"normal" is only the guideline. What is normal for you is whatever you happen to be at. Blood pressure is the same. The "normal" guideline is 120/80, but many people run higher or lower. My wife's BP is around 94/70 all the time. The only time we worry is if it's outside of that range regularly. FOr instance, a family doc might be concerned if your heart rate is always 90-94. Technically though, tachycardia isn't until you reach 100bpm. In emergency medicine, we dont usually get concerned until your heart rate is over 100, or 110+. This means you might have an underlying emergency issue.
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The Veganator
Dec 23, 2012
Here's an article I wrote from one of my magazine columns a couple of years back, I believe the Karvonen formula to be the best method to 'predict' your heart rate zones and max.

This site is also a handy tool for working things out quickly: