What Your Heart Rate Says About Your Health

Tuesday Dec 17 | BY |
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Heart Shape Monitor

When I was 19 years old, studying music at college, I was told by one of my professors that having an “average” heart rate was not good. “It’s better to be below or above average,” he said.

The average resting heart rate is 72 beats per minute (bpm). I checked my heart rate that day and it was exactly 72 bpm.

So, I was disappointed. “How come my heart rate is so average?” I thought.

My professor was right about something: in general, it’s better to have a lower-than-average heart rate.

I don’t know where he got his info about the “above-average” heart rate, and he was probably making that up. After all, he was a music professor, not a fitness one.

I try to monitor my resting heart rate on a regular basis. These days it’s around 50-55 bpm.

Last year I was doing a lot more weight lifting and I neglected my cardio. I was also eating less fruit than usual. My resting heart rate changed to 60 bpm.

So, I made two changes: I ate more fruit and started doing high-intensity interval training on the treadmill instead of just going out for a run at an average speed.

In just a couple of weeks my resting heart rate dropped back to 52, which is the same rate it’s been throughout my twenties on a high-raw diet.

I’ve also tested my heart rate during the night on a few occasions. It drops down to 40, sometimes less, when I’m in a deep stage of sleep.

If you’re fit and at a healthy weight, a low resting heart rate is usually a good sign. It’s not unusual for athletes to have a resting heart rate between 33 and 50.

When you keep track of your resting heart rate, you’ll know how things can affect you. Stress and caffeine can raise your heart rate. A good exercise routine can lower your heart rate.

A healthy resting heart rate means your body is not struggling to keep up. It means that your heart is fit. From ScienceDaily:

Norwegian researchers recently reported that for every 10-beat rise in resting heart rate, the risk of dying from a heart attack rose by 18% in women and by 10% in men. And a recent Japanese study showed that a resting heart rate higher than 80 beats per minute was associated with a greater risk of becoming obese or developing heart disease decades later.

So, check your heart rate on a daily basis. If you check it early in the morning before you get out of bed, it will be at its lowest. I usually check it in the mid-afternoon after resting for a couple of minutes, before I go to the gym.

I use a great iPhone app called “Instant Heart Rate” that uses the phone’s camera to analyze color variations in your finger and gives you very accurate heart rate readings, but the old method of calculating for 15 seconds and then multiplying by 4 also works.

How you can lower your resting heart rate:

– Eliminate caffeine or limit it to green tea
– Engage in high-intensity cardio training with intervals, a few times per week.
– Eat a high-raw, plant-based diet. Eliminate unhealthy foods and oils. I found that replacing a good portion of your calories by fruit works great for lowering heart rate and improving your general health and fitness.
– Get plenty of quality sleep (and naps)

Question of the day: Have you ever tracked your heart rate, and what have you found?

Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.


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  1. Ralph says:

    I question your info. I believed for years that a low pulse was a good thing. I was wrong. If you consistently have a low pulse and low temp you are Hypothyridic. That’s not my opinion that’s how they diagnosed it in the 50s. Blood work isn’t capable of determining it regardless of what “the establishment” says. Just think about it. A low pulse means your cells aren’t getting the blood and nutrients they need. How is that good?
    With that being said you give some of the most honest and meaningful info about health anywhere. That is why I comment. I’ve mentioned this site before but it deems comment again. If you really want to know about Hypothyroidism go to Hypothyroidism Revolution. It cuts against the grain my health proves its validity.

    • Good point, but if your pulse seems to be affected more by how fit you are, I don’t think it’s related to hypothyrodic conditions. For example, as you exercise less, resting pulse increases. As you exercise more, resting pulse lowers. That’s a fact that can reflect on your physical condition. The issues with thyroid are separate and should also be considered.

  2. instant heart rate is also available for android phones

  3. Carlos says:

    Thanks for the article, it was so useful to me that I was worried that my pulse always was below average compared to other people. My pulse some time is 48-52 and when I asked to some health professionls they alway tell me that it should be 65-72.

    Thanks again.

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