Heart Rate Check

By November 11, 2019 Health and Fitness
Heart Rate Adjustment

These two simple tests with a heart monitor could warn you of a potential cardiac issues.

Most people who exercise expect cardiovascular and other benefits, but sometimes this does not happen, or worse, the risks increase. Many are familiar with their heart rates but are unaware this data may be helpful in assessing cardiac risk. This is something everyone should be aware of when you consider rates of heart attacks in athletes may be the same as those in sedentary individuals.

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With one goal being disease-prevention, we all wish to build a high-performance heart to help us power through our busy days and our workouts.

From a practical standpoint, most users will not perform standard exercise stress tests in a laboratory, but simple assessments in a best-case scenario may help evaluate low, moderate and high risk for cardiac stress. Two key heart-rate measurements you can do on your own represent some of the most important and accurate evaluations for active and inactive people alike. These simple autonomic markers for cardiac stress (and mortality) are resting heart rate and heart rate recovery.

Some still use the pulse test to estimate their heart rate, while others use the more-accurate and traditional chest strap, ear monitors or other tracking devices. Multiple evaluations, perhaps a minimum of three, can be used to estimate risk. Ongoing evaluations assess improvement.

Regardless of the means of collection, data from these rates could potentially save your life.

Resting Rate

Resting heart rate is the most easily obtained, and can generally estimate cardiac and mortality risk. Consider the following are numbers:

Low risk — resting HR less than 70 bpm.

Moderate risk — resting HR between 70 and 75.

High risk — above 75. (Recommend seeing a health practitioner.)


Heart Recovery

Heart rate recovery (HRR) is how quickly your heart rate normalizes following exertion. This can be measured during exercise (after warming up and before the onset of a cool down), such as starting at your MAF HR. Stop after one measured minute of inactivity while standing or maintaining other exercise positions, then read the recovery HR. HRR is the difference between the two numbers.

Using this HRR the following categories offer estimated risks:

Low risk — Decrease of over 30 bpm.*

Moderate risk — Decrease of 25 to 30.

High risk — Decrease of less than 25. (Recommend seeing a health practitioner.)

* A decrease of more than 30 beats is not necessarily better. Chronically overtrained athletes sometimes have autonomic imbalance where HRR decreases more than ~35 bpm, and resting HR is excessively low.

Many athletes and regular exercise enthusiasts know the value of heart rate data in their training programs, including measuring progress, or ensuring you’re burning body fat, but few realize these number can also be helpful in assessing cardiac risk. Resting heart rate and heart rate recovery are two simple methods you can use to assess your risk and they might even save your life.


Other information regarding heart rate, exercise and your health:

The 180 Review

101 MAF heart-rate zones

White Paper: MAF exercise heart rate can help improve health and sports performance

How a heart monitor helps burn more body fat


  • Marco says:

    Do you have any references about the numbers you give in this article? Thx!

  • Steve hunter says:

    I have few questions about the “heart rate check” article I read. I’m 63, resting HR waking up is mid-to-high 40’s. Resting HR during the day after sitting 10 minutes is mid-to-high 50’s. During walking or slow jogging on a hilly route and stopping, HR was 125, after one minute of standing still, HR drops to 98-99. I’ve done this several times, with same 26-27 HR reduction. Seems I’m at moderate risk with reduction test and low risk with resting HR. Can you explain the difference in more detail? Should I be alarmed?

  • Catherine says:

    Ive had patients claim to be fit (I know they’re not) based on their low resting HR. Could they be overtrained then?

  • Spencer says:

    Thanks for an excellent article.

    “ Heart rate recovery (HRR) … can be measured during exercise (after warming up and before the onset of a cool down), such as starting at your MAF HR.”

    Apologies, I am finding the wording of this sentence to be slightly vague … does this mean that measuring HRR should only be done after a MAF session? Or does intensity and/or duration of the session not matter for these purposes?

  • Alex campbell says:

    A recovery rate for those 64+ is the same as those persons 30 and younger…seems a bit weird
    I get the concept of recovery heart rate …but
    Like adding 10 be to a Maff HR it would be great to provide more guidance on this matter

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