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Heart Rate: Normal, Measurement, Maximum, Minimum, Normal Pulse, and Target Heart Rate

Written by QuotesLyfe | Updated on: November 19, 2020


Heart Rate: Normal, Measurement, Maximum, Minimum, Normal Pulse, and Target Heart Rate

A comprehensive article on heartrate.

Human body functions as a perfect integration of multiple types of machinery, which we call 'systems.' One such a system is the cardiovascular system - comprising the most beautiful part - the HEART along with various blood vessels supplying blood to the whole body.

The heart pumps blood into two systems of vessels - one that carries carbon dioxide to the lungs for exchange of fresh oxygen called the pulmonary circulation, and the other that carries fresh oxygen to all the other organs called systemic circulation. The rate at which this pumping occurs is called the heart rate. 

This heart rate is what we perceive when we are excited, scared, or after exercise. It is the heart that our general practitioners listen to when they put their stethoscope on the left side of their chest and when they assess our pulse. 

This article answers all these queries, so keep reading!

  • What's a normal resting heart rate?
  • Is a resting heart rate of 80 bad?
  • What should be the pulse rate of a healthy person?
  • What heart rate is an emergency?
  • What is a good heart rate for my age?
  • What is a bad heart rate?


A general query is a difference between pulse rate and heart rate. Well, usually, our pulse rate and heart rate are equal. Pulse tells us that blood pumped by the centrally located heart is reaching the extreme parts of the body at the same pace or not. 

So, we can record the pulse rate by sensing the points of many arteries. For example, doctors commonly look for our pulse on the wrist, which is called the radial pulse. Other positions are at the elbow just inner to the biceps (called as brachial pulse), in the armpits (axillary pulse), in the neck (carotid - used commonly to check if the unconscious person's heart is beating or not), in front of the ear (temporal pulse), behind the knee joint (popliteal pulse), near the groin (femoral pulse), and on foot (dorsal pedis pulse). 

Usually, there is no variation in the pulses of both hands, but a difference of up to ten beats can be seen in the pulses of hands and legs; in fact, pulse rate and heart rate are equal in a healthy individual. Moreover, the pulse rate decreases with inspiration and increases with expiration. 


Estimated heart rates for exercising.

Age Approximate Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) Target heart rate for low to moderate-intensity exercise
(50-70% of maximum for MHR)
20 200 bpm 100 - 140 bpm
30 190 bpm 95 - 133 bpm
40 180 bpm 90 - 126 bpm
50 170 bpm 85 - 119 bpm
60 160 bpm 80 - 112 bpm
70 150 bpm 75 - 105 bpm
80 140 bpm 70 - 98 bpm
90 130 bpm 65 - 91 bpm


What should be the heart rate of Kids?

Children generally tend to have a faster heart rate as compared to adults, and it progressively wanes with age. 

Inside the womb, the normal rate at which the heart beats is 120-160bpm. In addition, many doctors listen to this rate to tell if the baby is mature enough to be delivered, whether it is suffering from some problem or not. It sounds like the ticking of a clock just at a quicker pace. 

When we are born, our heart beats at the rate of 110-140/minute. 

By the time we complete our infancy, it reaches 90-120/minute, and when the child touches the age of 3 to 5 years, it comes down to 80-100/minute. Eventually, during adolescence, just like every other body part, our heart also attains the adult levels beating at 60-100bpm. Although, in elderly rate may be as slow as 50-60/minute. 


What should be the heart rate of Athletes?

Our body adapts to its needs based on our lifestyle. Athletes who work out daily for a significant amount of time to develop a slower resting heart rate, and it is usually seen that it might not intensify as much as that of an aesthetic person with the same amount of exercise. There is simple physics behind this; when we do exercise, we have to improve the blood supply to our body. There are two ways to accomplish this - either increase the volume of blood pumped each time or increase the rate of pumping. 

To meet the acute demands, increasing heart rate is simpler, but when we provide chronic strain, the heart shows remodeling and expands the volume pumped each time. Thus, the heart rate decreases in resting state. So, even if athletes have a heart rate of 50bpm, there is no need to worry; they are completely fit.


A very common problem faced by many of us is that we feel the heart pumping rapidly just under the ribs, which makes us restless. It can be evoked by anxiety or emotional stress. So, whenever one feels this, it is imperative to go to the emergency room, though while going, you can try simple measures like massaging over the carotid on one side (roughly 6-7cm below the ears on the outer side of the neck) or try a deep inhalation followed by exhalation over a closed glottis (as if trying to prevent the air from coming out of the neck). But one must also rush to the hospital since severe cases like arrhythmia can be lethal. 


What should be the heart rate of a Pregnant Woman?

When a lady gets pregnant, the body undergoes many physiological transformations, which help in providing more nutrition and oxygen to the baby. One of the changes is an increase in heart rate. So they should not worry if the heart rate rises to about 80bpm from the earlier 70bpm.


Does Fever increase heart rate?

The temperature of our body also influences the heart rate. When the temperature drops to less than 35 Celsius degree, the basal metabolism decreases, and the heart is inhibited, which causes a drop in the rate. 

Contrarily, when the temperature of the body rises above the normal 37 degrees Centigrade, the metabolism boosts; this stimulates the heart, and with each degree rise in temperature, the heart rate increases by 7-10bpm.

Interestingly, this won't be seen in those faking an illness, so this can be used to detect whether the person is really ill or throwing out tantrums. 


What is a good resting heart rate while sleeping?

While sleeping, most of the functions of the body decline, so the heart also has to work less, and heart rate decreases. This might contradict while having wild, exciting, scary dreams in the REM sleep when our heart starts beating faster even though we are not conscious of it. 


It is a well-known fact that our heart rate increases when we see someone we adore. This is because of the oxytocin discharged in the brain, which stimulates the heart to a contract prematurely than usual and faster than usual, which may be perceived as skipping a beat!

As a matter of fact, the heart rate also increases in fear and rage. Here, the sympathetic system gets activated that is responsible for bringing such changes. 


Interestingly enough, it has been observed that some saints of ancient India were able to get so much control on their cravings and were able to evade the normal tendencies of the human brain that they could even go in an actual 'trance' state. In this state, they would solely rest and introspect, forfeiting the connection with the outer world, curtailing the metabolic demands to such an extent that their heart rate would be infinitesimally low and could not be detected. How this state was attained is a question that juggles in the minds of many researchers. But it undoubtedly could help the saints live for more than a hundred years.


The human heart is an exceptionally marvelous part which is so reliant and sturdy to sustain a lot over the decades we live. It beats continuously from the time it starts forming (four weeks) in an embryo to literally our last breath. It requires just a little bit of care from our side to sustain it in the long run - in the form of regular exercise and a more healthy diet and an active lifestyle. I hope all the readers never have a heartbreak, rather have a long-lived happy heart. 

Co-author:  Paridhi Singhal


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