How to Measure Heart Rate Recovery &
Average Resting Heart Rate 
by Bonnie Gabaldon

Why is Heart Rate Important?

Knowing how to measure heart rate recovery and resting rates is an excellent way to monitor your progress toward greater fitness. This is true whether you are newly embarking on a fitness lifestyle, or have been physically active for some time. 

The number one cause of death in the United States, cardiovascular disease, is preventable. Regular cardio/aerobic exercise improves your heart health.  

A strong, healthy heart is a more efficient heart that pumps a greater volume of blood with less effort for every beat per minute (BPM).

The opposite is also true. A weak, unhealthy heart must work harder and pump faster to deliver the same amount of blood.

Dawna Callahan Races Her Wheelchair

Two Measurements of Heart Health

Recovery rate is the speed at which your heart rate returns to normal two minutes after exercise ceases. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, a longer heart-rate-recovery time increases the risk of death more than a shorter recovery time – regardless of physical condition or other risk factors. 

Resting heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute when you are at rest. By including cardio/aerobic exercise on a regular basis, you will see a reduction in your resting heart rate because your heart is stronger and expends less effort. The best time to check this rate is first thing in the morning before you get out of bed. Resting heart rate speaks volumes about your state of fitness, and the more fit you become, the rate will decrease because your heart is more efficient.

Resting Heart Rate Chart

How to Measure Heart Rate Recovery

You can determine your target heart rate zone as follows.

First, subtract your age from 220 to determine your estimated maximum heart rate; then, 60%-80% of your maximum heart rate. This is your target zone.

You can monitor your rates with a heart-rate monitor. For information on how to do this without a heart-rate monitor, follow the link to Cardio Endurance below.

Second, begin an aerobic workout until you reach your target heart rate.  Stop exercising, and immediately check your heart rate. Take long, deep breaths and relax your body. Check your heart rate again in two minutes. Subtract the second number from the first. The difference between the two numbers is the beats-per-minute (bpm) that your heart has recovered.  

The difference between the numbers is an indicator of your fitness level:

-- less than 22, your biological age is older than your calendar age.

-- 22-52, your biological age is about the same as your calendar age.

-- 53-53, your biological age is slightly younger than your calendar age.

-- 59-65, your biological age is moderately younger than your calendar age.

-- 66 +, your biological age is much younger than your calendar age. You rock!

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We have all used the expression to describe someone as having a "big heart." Not to be Debbie Downer here; but, the truth is that an enlarged heart is a heart that has been working too hard. A smaller heart is an efficient, healthy heart.

Writer/attorney, Bonnie Gabaldon, is the owner/developer of the health & fitness website,

Bonnie graduated summa cum laude from Oregon State University with honors. She is a member of Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. 

She researched and authored a significant undergraduate independent study paper, The Effect of Female Hormones on Elite Female Athletes During the First Trimester of Pregnancy.

Bonnie attended the University of New Mexico School of Law and Georgetown Law Center, and has been a licensed attorney since 2003.

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