WHAT IT IS
RHR: Resting Heart Rate
WHAT IT MEANS
A measure of your average heart beats per minute when your body is at rest. Harvard Health calls RHR “a real-time snapshot of how your heart muscle is functioning.”
WHAT IT TELLS US
RHR tells us how hard your heart has to work to pump blood throughout the body. A lower RHR is generally more favorable because it means your heart is working more efficiently—it’s pumping more blood throughout the body with fewer beats. A high RHR, on the other hand, can be indicative of stress, overtraining, dehydration, or sleep deprivation, and chronically high RHR has been linked to health complications like high blood pressure and cardiac arrest.
WHAT SHOULD MY RHR BE?
The American Heart Association lists a normal RHR as anything between 60 and 100 beats per minute. For athletes and people who are active, an average RHR is closer to 40-60 beats per minute. Women naturally tend to have slightly higher RHR than men, and RHR also tends to increase with age.
HOW TO GET A BETTER RHR
You can improve your RHR by incorporating at least 1 hour per week of high-intensity exercise, and getting regular sleep, proper nutrition, and adequate hydration. It also helps to avoid overconsumption of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.
HOW NOSEBREATHING CAN HELP
Nose breathing has a beneficial effect on RHR in two ways. First, it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which has a calming effect on the body, in turn telling the heart to beat slower. Second, nose breathing boosts blood oxygen levels while slowing natural breathing rhythm. When you breathe deeply but take fewer breaths, your heart rate naturally slows because it doesn’t need to pump as quickly to send oxygen through the body.