Heart Rate Calculator
The best way to understand your heart rate is by checking it regularly.
Enter your heart rate into the calculator to see if you have a high, low or average resting heart rate.
WHAT IS A RESTING HEART RATE?
‘Resting heart rate’ is the term given to the number of times you heart beats in one minute when you are at rest. Generally, we also infer that this is when you are awake, as your resting heart rate usually dips even lower overnight when you are asleep.
Why should I track my heart rate?
One of the main reasons people like to track their resting heart rate is to see what effect training has on their cardiovascular fitness. However, there are other benefits as well. An increased resting heart rate can be a sign of a more serious medical condition or severe infection. Resting heart rate can also be affected by medication and substances such as caffeine.
HOW TO MEASURE YOUR HEART RATE?
What devices measure heart rate?
One of the easier ways to do this is by using a device called a pulse oximeter, which is a little probe that you can pop on your finger. It shines a light through your finger to detect your pulse and oxygen levels. Other options include using a blood pressure machine or a smart-watch. It is worth noting that, for someone with an irregular heart rate, there may be inaccuracies involved with using a blood pressure machine for both the blood pressure and the heart rate results. For this reason, all of Kinetik’s blood pressure devices come with an irregular heart beat detector, so you can be alerted when this might be a potential issue.
How to measure your heart rate anywhere?
And of course, there is always the old-fashioned way of simply using your fingers to check your pulse yourself. The easiest two places to do this are on the wrist or the neck2
How to measure your heart rate on your neck?
If using the neck, place the pads of your index and middle fingers on your neck, about halfway between your ear and your chin, roughly a couple of finger-widths below the jaw. You may need to try moving your fingers around a bit until you can feel your pulse beating against them. You shouldn’t have to press too hard – just enough to indent your skin by a millimetre or two should be plenty.
How to measure your heart rate on your wrist?
If using the wrist, put your non-dominant hand out in front of you where you can rest it on a flat surface, and turn it so that your palm is facing up. Using your index and middle fingers of your dominant hand, press lightly on the part of your wrist closer to the ‘thumb end’. (If you imagine drawing a straight line across the top of your wrist starting at the thumb end and ending at the pinky end, your pulse will be about a fifth of the way along.) Again, you may need to move your fingers around a bit or try pressing a bit more firmly to find your pulse.
Once you can feel your pulse, all you need to do is count the number of times you feel it beat in a minute. Another option is to count for 30 seconds and multiply by two. It may help to count in your head to yourself rather than aloud so you don’t throw yourself off.
What is a good target heart rate when exercising?
Generally, for moderate exercise, your target heart rate should be between 50 – 70% of your maximum heart rate. So, for a 40yo, their target would be 50 – 70% of 180, which works out as a range from 90 – 126 bpm.
For vigorous activity, a range of 70 – 85% is generally used3. Going back to the 40yo, that equates to 70 – 85% of 180bpm, which is 126 – 153 bpm.
Of course, it’s always good to listen to your body as well as check your heart rate, as there is always a chance of error with any method you are using, especially if you haven’t had training or lots of experience in assessing your pulse. If your body is showing signs of over-exertion, step down the exercise intensity for now and aim to build it up more slowly over time.
What is a normal resting heart rate?
This can vary by age – young children’s hearts tend to beat faster than adults’. For those age 12yo and older though, a normal resting heart rate is typically between 60 bpm (beats per minute) and 90 bpm.
What is my maximum heart rate?
Identifying your maximum heart rate can be useful when trying to figure out how intensely you should exercise. ‘Maximum’ might be misleading as this doesn’t actually mean that your heart is physically unable to beat faster than this, although it isn’t a good idea to push it to this extreme. You can work out your maximum heart rate with the following formula:
220 bpm (beats per minute) – [your age in years] = Maximum heart rate
So for a 40 year old, their maximum heart rate is 220 – 40 = 180 bpm.
You can then set your target range for your heart rate depending on your exercise type.
What should my heart rate be to burn fat?
This is a little bit of a complex question, as there is more to burning fat than just keeping a heart rate in a target range. Overall calories spent versus calories consumed comes into play also, with a calorie deficit leading to fat loss or ‘burn’. However, if you are wondering what type of exercise immediately uses fat proportionally more than other energy sources, the answer is light intensity exercise. In fact, the lighter the intensity, the more fat is burned in proportion to other energy sources. However, this also means that fewer calories are burned in the same amount of time.
If you are happy to carry on exercising for a very long time at a light intensity, this is a great way to burn fat. If you only have a short time to exercise, higher intensity training where more calories are burned will probably benefit you more in the long run. A middle ground to aim for if you aren’t sure would be somewhere between 50 – 70% of your maximum heart rate.
How does exercise effect heart rate? The science.
When we exercise, the cells in our body (especially in our muscles) consume more oxygen and energy from the blood stream and produce more carbon dioxide and waste. We therefore need the blood to get to the muscles faster to replenish them and clear away the rubbish. As our heart is a dynamic muscle itself, it can do two things to get more blood to the muscles quickly – it can speed up (increased heart rate) and squeeze harder (increased blood pressure).
So, in the short term, exercising puts an increased demand on the heart, which it answers by raising the heart rate and the blood pressure. With time, as the heart becomes more efficient as a result of this, the resting heart rate decreases.
What are the effects of regular exercise?
Exercise is also known to protect the heart and reduce the risk of heart disease significantly. It is likely that this happens in a number of different ways, such as through increasing healthy cholesterol (HDL), improving the heart’s own blood supply, helping the body become more efficient at clearing harmful waste products (reactive oxygen species), and halting or even reversing harmful plaque formation inside blood vessels4,5.
Is my heart rate too low?
This is a somewhat tricky one to answer as the same rate might be fine for one person and dangerously low for another. In general, a rate of <60 bpm is considered abnormally low. While it is normal for the resting heart rate to drop in response to increased cardiovascular fitness, signs that your heart rate might be too low include:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Chest Pain
- Shortness of breath
There are other factors that can lower one’s heart rate in addition to exercise, such as medication, and certain medical conditions, such as thyroid problems. If you are concerned that your heart rate might be too low, especially if it is often under 60bpm, it is worth speaking to a medical professional such as your NHS GP. If you feel severely unwell or have any of the above symptoms alongside a slow heart rate, please seek medical attention urgently. You can do this by ringing 999 or attending A&E for any life-threatening symptoms, or ringing 111 or speaking to your NHS GP for less severe symptoms.
- Chacon D, Fiani B (November 23, 2020) A Review of Mechanisms on the Beneficial Effect of Exercise on Atherosclerosis. Cureus 12(11): e11641. doi:10.7759/cureus.11641 https://www.cureus.com/articles/44948-a-review-of-mechanisms-on-the-beneficial-effect-of-exercise-on-atherosclerosis