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What is a normal heart rate, when is it low or high and how to normalize it

Updated in November 2019

Heart rate indicates the number of times the heart beats per minute and its normal value in adults ranges from 60 to 100 bpm. However, it varies with age, whether the person does any physical activity or has any heart disease.

Basically, the more effort the heart needs to make to send the blood to the body, the greater its effort and consequently the higher the heart rate of that person. And the more efficient each heart beat, the lower the heart rate, so ideally the heart rate is always lower but not to low that it does not allow the blood to reach the entire body, so the ideal heart rate varies with age:

  • Up to 2 years old: 120 to 140 bpm,
  • From 8 years to 17 years of age: 80 to 100 bpm,
  • Sedentary Adult: 70 to 80 bpm,
  • Adult who does physical activity and the elderly: 50 to 60 bpm.

Although the normal heart rate is up to 100 bpm, in a tachycardia, the heart can beat up to 400 times per minute and is at risk.

The heart rate is an important indicator of you health status but there are other parameters that may indicate how good your health is.

What is a normal heart rate, when is it low or high and how to normalize it

Normal heart rate frequency table

The following table shows the normal heart rate for men in resting:

  18 - 25 years old 26 - 35 years old36 - 45 years old46-55 years old56-65 years old+65 years old

Excellent
56-61 bpm55-61 bpm57-62 bpm58-63 bpm57-61 bpm56-61
Good62-65 bpm 62-65 bpm63-66 bpm64-67 bpm62-67 bpm62-65 bpm
Normal70-73 bpm71-74 bpm71-75 bpm72-76 bpm72-75 bpm70-73 bpm
Not so good74-81 bpm75-81 bpm76-82 bpm77-83 bpm76-81 bpm74-79 bpm
Bad+82 bpm+82 bpm+83 bpm+84 bpm+82 bpm+80 bpm

This table shows normal heart rate for women in resting:

 18 - 25 years old 26 - 35 years old36 - 45 years old46-55 years old56-65 years old+65 years old

Excellent
61-65 bpm60-64 bpm60-64 bpm61-65 bpm60-64 bpm60-64 bpm

Good
66-69 bpm65-68 bpm65-69 bpm66-69 bmp65-68 bpm 65-68 bpm

Normal
74-78 bpm73-76 bpm74- 78 bpm74-77 bpm74-77 bpm73-76 bpm
Not so good79-84 bpm77-82 bpm79-84 bpm78-83 bpm78-83 bpm77-84 bpm
Bad+85 bpm+83 bpm+85 bpm+84 bpm+84 bpm+84 bpm

If the frequency is above the values shown in the table, regular exercise should be performed because this improves the heart's ability. If you improve your heart's ability ir can pump the same amount of blood with less effort, which naturally decreases your resting heart rate.

How to measure heart rate

To measure your heart rate, you can place the index and middle finger on the side of your neck, where you feel your heart rate and count how many pulsations you notice for 1 minute. The calculation can also be done by counting the beats up to 15 seconds and multiplying the result by 4. Another, more reliable way is to use a small device called a frequency meter that is placed on the finger, or use special clocks that measure HR. These products can be purchased at medical or sports product stores.

What changes your heart rate

The main factors that change heart rate are:

  • Higher than 100 bpm:

The increase in heart rate is not always caused by worrying situations. The heart may be beating harder or faster in everyday situations like:

  • Strong emotions;
  • Panic or anxiety attacks;
  • During sexual intercourse;
  • Fever;
  • Physical activity;
  • By making some exertion;
  • The use of medications;
  • When there is high blood pressure. See what to do if you have high blood pressure;
  • Ingestion of large quantities of alcohol or caffeine;
  • When there is heart disease, such as heart failure or valvular heart disease, as well as other diseases such as atherosclerosis or hypertension.

When there is high blood pressure, above 140 x 90 mmHg, there is tachycardia and if the pressure continues to rise, there is a risk of a heart attack. Symptoms that may indicate that the person is having or may have a heart attack include chest or arm pain, poor digestion, dizziness, and cold sweats. If you experience these symptoms you should go to the emergency room or call an ambulance. See what are the first signs of a heart attack.

If you experience this increase in heart rate more than 3 times a week, even when you are resting, without any exertion, and don't have any of the symptoms mentioned above, then you should go to a cardiologist to do tests to your heart, to identify the cause and initiate treatment if necessary.

  • Below 60 bpm:

A heart rate inferior to 60 beats per minute may occur due to aging or just a side effect of certain medication for the heart, for example. However, low heart rate can also indicate heart problems such as a heart block or sinus node dysfunction, especially if accompanied by dizziness, tiredness, or shortness of breath. So if you have a weak heart beat, you should consult a cardiologist to do a heart examination, identify the cause, and start treatment if necessary.

What is a normal heart rate, when is it low or high and how to normalize it

How to normalize your heart rate

If your heart rate is too high, and you feel your heart racing, what you can do to try to normalize the heart's beat at that moment is:

  • Stand and crouch a little by placing your hands on your legs and coughing hard 5 times in a row;
  • Take a deep breath and let the air out slowly through your mouth, as if you were gently extinguishing a candle;
  • Count down from 20 to zero, trying to calm down.

That way the heart rate should decrease a little, but if you notice that this tachycardia, as it is called, happens frequently, it is necessary to go to a doctor to see what may be causing this increase and if any treatment is necessary.

But when a person measures their resting heart rate and thinks it should be lower, the best way to normalize it is by doing regular physical activity. This can be hiking, running, water aerobics classes or any other activity that leads to physical fitness.

What's the maximum heart rate while doing physical activities

The maximum heart rate varies according to your age and type of activity that you do daily, but can be verified by performing the following mathematical calculation: 220 minus age (for men) and 226 minus age (for women).

A young adult can have a maximum beating of 90 and an athlete can have a maximum heart rate of 55, and this is also related to the physical conditioning that an individual possesses. The important thing is to know that your maximum heart rate may be different from another and this may not represent any health problem, but rather, physical conditioning.

To lose weight and at the same time burn fat you should exercise in a range of 60-75% of maximum heart rate, which varies according to your gender and age.

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