An easy way to measure your health is by taking your heart rate, which gives you a real-time snapshot of how well your heart muscle is working. The average adult’s typical resting heart rate, or the number of beats per minute their heartbeat while at rest, falls between 60 and 100. Everybody’s normal heart rate is different. An unusually high or low resting heart rate, however, may indicate a problem.
The human heart is a remarkable organ, responsible for pumping oxygen-rich blood throughout the body, keeping us alive and well. However, beyond its life-sustaining functions, the heart can also reveal a wealth of information about our physical and emotional states. Your heart rate, rhythm, and variability can tell a lot about your overall health and emotional well-being, and it has the potential to “tell on you” in various ways.
How much is a healthy heart rate?
Adults normally have a heart rate between 60 and 100 beats per minute. “Slow heart” refers to a heart rate of less than 60 beats per minute, referred to as bradycardia, and “fast heart” refers to a heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute, known as tachycardia. Some specialists think that a resting heart rate closer to 50–70 beats per minute is optimum. No matter what is deemed normal, it is crucial to understand that a healthy heart rate varies based on the circumstances.
A slower heart rate in healthy individuals may be brought on by medicine, sleep habits, or physical fitness. A slowing heart rate, however, may be a symptom of a medical condition, such as heart illness, specific infections, elevated potassium levels in the blood, or a thyroid that is not functioning properly.
Conversely, a quick rate in healthy individuals may indicate that they are pregnant, active, anxious, aroused, or utilizing stimulants. A fast heart rate can be caused by a number of medical conditions, such as infections or nearly any feverish condition, heart issues, certain medications, low potassium levels in the blood, an overactive thyroid gland or excessive thyroid medication, anemia, asthma, or other breathing difficulties.
You may track personally relevant trends and patterns by keeping an eye on your heart rate.
How to measure your pulse rate
You may easily check your pulse with your fingertips at the side of your neck or at your wrist, according to the Harvard Medical School Special Health Report Diseases of the Heart.
- At the wrist, lightly press the index and middle fingers of one hand on the opposite wrist, just below the base of the thumb.
- At the neck, lightly press the side of the neck, just below your jawbone.
- Count the number of beats in 15 seconds, and multiply by four. That’s your heart rate.
You might wish to repeat a few times and use the average of the three numbers to get the most accurate reading. You should additionally adhere to these guidelines for determining your resting heart rate:
- Do not measure your heart rate within one to two hours after exercise or a stressful event. Your heart rate can stay elevated after strenuous activities.
- Wait an hour after consuming caffeine, which can cause heart palpitations and make your heart rate rise.
- Do not take the reading after you have been sitting or standing for a long period, which can affect your heart rate.
To check your heart rate, you can also utilize several kinds of heart rate monitors. However, be advised that the majority have not completed impartial accuracy testing. A digital fitness tracker is one choice. The most trustworthy ones have a wireless sensor attached to a strap that you encircle your chest to wear. Your pulse is electronically detected by the sensor, which then transmits the information to a receiver that resembles a wristwatch to show your heart rate. Some timepieces feature sensors located on their rear side. These significantly less precise sensors use skin-based blood flow measurements to calculate your heart rate.
There are now a number of smartphone apps available to check your heart rate. In the majority of them, you touch the phone’s camera lens, and it then recognizes Every time your heart beats, the color of your finger changes.
Handgrip heart rate monitors are a common part of exercise equipment found in fitness centers and some home exercise rooms, such as elliptical machines and treadmills. These use the metal on the grips and minute amounts of perspiration from your palms to detect the electrical signal of your heartbeat. However, because these are infamously unreliable, specialists advise against using them to assess your heart rate.
Emotional States: Your heart rate can be a reflection of your emotional well-being. When you’re stressed or anxious, your body’s “fight or flight” response kicks in, causing your heart rate to increase. Alternatively, feelings of relaxation and contentment can lower your heart rate. This connection between emotions and heart rate is the basis for many biofeedback techniques used to manage stress and anxiety. Understanding how your heart rate responds to different emotions can empower you to manage your stress and improve your emotional health.
Heart Rate Variability: Heart rate variability (HRV) is the variation in time between consecutive heartbeats. A healthy heart is not like a metronome, ticking at a constant rate; it adjusts to meet the body’s demands. Higher HRV is generally associated with better health, while lower HRV may be a sign of stress, anxiety, or other health issues. HRV is being increasingly used as a non-invasive tool to assess an individual’s autonomic nervous system, which regulates various bodily functions, including heart rate. By tracking your HRV, you can gain insights into your overall health and adapt your lifestyle accordingly.
Fitness and Training: Athletes and fitness enthusiasts have long used heart rate as a critical metric in their training. Tracking heart rate during exercise can help optimize workouts and ensure you’re working out in the right heart rate zone for your goals, whether that’s burning fat, improving cardiovascular fitness, or building endurance.
Mental Health: Beyond physical health, your heart can also provide valuable insights into your mental well-being. Changes in heart rate patterns and variability are associated with conditions such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Healthcare providers may use heart rate monitoring as part of the assessment and management of these mental health conditions.
In conclusion, your heart is not just a pump; it’s a powerful indicator of your physical and emotional well-being. By paying attention to your heart rate, rhythm, and variability, you can gain insights into your health, emotions, and overall quality of life. Regularly monitoring your heart can empower you to make positive changes in your lifestyle and seek appropriate medical attention when needed. So, don’t underestimate the wisdom that your heartbeat can provide; it can truly “tell on you” in the most informative ways.
- Harvard Medical School- Health publishing: https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/want-to-check-your-heart-rate-heres-how