Resting Pulse Rate

Basic information on the action of the heart, and how pulse rate can be reduced using a suitable exercise plan.
Resting Pulse Rate

    The heart is a pump that forces blood around the body. It is actually a muscle, and works by contracting via electrical stimulation administered by the sino-atrial node, which is more commonly referred to as the ‘pacemaker’. As the heart pumps, the muscles contract, pushing blood all around the body via the arteries providing the various tissues with oxygen and nutrients which are transported within the blood stream.
    The stronger a muscle is, the less hard it has to work in order to perform its job. Just like any other muscle, as the heart is trained, it gets bigger and stronger. The stronger the heart is, the less it has to beat in order to effectively transport the blood around the body. As a general rule, the lower a person’s resting heart rate is, the fitter they are.
    Average values for resting hear rates are as follows…
    Normal adults 60-80 bpm.
    Athletes 40-60 bpm
    Children 70-100 bpm

Heart Rate During Exercise

    During exercise, the body is using lots of energy. With the muscles working hard, they need to be provided with a constant supply of oxygen, which allows to the body to convert the food we eat into a useable energy source via a process known as respiration. The extra oxygen is provided by our breathing- this means the breathing rate goes up, hence the ‘out of breath’ feeling we get during exercise. This oxygen we breathe in is sent to the muscles via the blood stream, so the heart has to beat faster and faster to meet this extra oxygen demand.

Recovery Heart Rate

    One way to determine if you are reaping the benefits from exercise is to calculate your Recovery Heart Rate, a measure of how quickly you return to your resting heart rate after a workout. To calculate your recovery heart rate:
    1.Take your pulse ten seconds immediately after you have finished exercising. Write down the number.
    2.One minute later, take your pulse again and write it down.
    3.Subtract the number for the second pulse check from the number for the first pulse check. This number is your Recovery Heart Rate. The greater the number, the better shape you are in!

How to reduce resting heart rate

    Reducing resting heart rate is achieved by long-term stamina-based training. Running, cycling, rowing and swimming are examples of this. 3-4 sessions per week over a long period (at least 8 weeks) is standard protocol. The sessions should last at least 20 minutes and be performed at an intensity that is between 60-80% of your maximum heart rate. Lasting reduction of the heart rate through training is known as Bradycardia. The benefits of bradycardia include a healthier and stronger circulatory system, a stronger heart and an increased lung capacity from the cardiovascular training.
    To find your maximum heart rate, you simply subtract your age from 220. This is not an exact science, but it usually accurate to ± 10 beats per minute. From here you can establish exactly what intensity you need to work at in order to achieve bradycardia. Ivest in a good heart rate monitor for the job, as they they are far more accurate than the monitors built-in to the cardiovasular machines and are more practical- you can take them out on the road for runs, bike rides or whatever activity you wish to perform! For further information on suitable cardio programmes, consult the Cardio section of this site.
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