RESTING HEART RATE IN BRIEF...

It's already complicated enough to adjust our workout to our heart rate, if on top of that, we must include the notion of resting heart rate..

But don't worry, Tanguy Davin, a Research and Development engineer at Decathlon Sportslab explains it all!

 

In short, the heart rate (HR) is the number of times your heart is beating in a minute, and it is expressed in bpm. The HR varies throughout the day and may be modified by various stimuli such as daily activities, sports, stress, and the use of coffee, energy drinks or drugs… 

1. HOW IS IT INTERESTING TO KNOW ONE'S RESTING HR?

Whether in sports, in medicine or in everyday life, the HR can easily be measured and analysed based on a few indicators, such as the resting heart rate (resting HR), the maximum heart rate, the heart rate reserve, etc.

It is used to tailor your workout, to prevent/diagnose certain diseases, but also to provide an overview of an individual's health and wellness.

 

Indeed, the resting HR, i.e. the minimum heart rate when the body is in a complete state of relaxation (for example upon waking in the morning) has been extensively studied (1-2, 4-5) by scientists. Epidemiological studies in several thousands of individuals over several decades have revealed a link between the resting heart rate and the life expectancy (risk of death).    
They have shown that a low resting heart rate is correlated with a longer life expectancy and a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. (2,4)

 

Based on this observation, the European Guide for cardiovascular disease prevention recommends to adopt a lifestyle that will not increase your resting heart rate, by exercising on a regular basis and reducing psychological stress, as well as avoiding excessive use of stimulants such as caffeine. (3)

2. HOW TO MEASURE AND INTERPRET IT?

In order to accurately determine your resting heart rate, it is advised to make the measurement upon waking in the morning, while lying on the bed, in a complete state of relaxation.
The most reliable measuring devices are the heart rate monitors, but you may also take your pulse at your wrist or at your carotid for example.

 

The resting HR is considered:

> Low if <60 bpm.

> Normal if between 60 and 80 bpm.

> High if >80 bpm.

 

It is common to observe a resting HR below 60bpm in regular athletes, or even below 30bpm in high endurance athletes. (6)

3. IS IT POSSIBLE TO LOWER ONE'S RESTING HR?

Sports performed at moderate intensity (60 to 80% of heart rate zone) such as running, cycling, swimming, or Nordic walking can help lower the resting HR (1).
This type of exercise must be done in bouts of at least 20 minute duration, preceded by appropriate warm-up for 10 minutes.

Studies have shown that the HR adapts after several months of exercise (6). When returning to endurance sports, it is essential to start slowly and then gradually increase the duration, frequency and intensity of workouts.

For this type of goal, the key is to listen to your body and to find enjoyment in your practice.

Now that you know everything, you just have to determine you resting HR & your maximum HR to make sure you exercise at the right pace in the appropriate HR zone for you!

Tanguy DAVIN

Research and Development Engineer at Decathlon Sportslab

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1 - CARTER, James B., BANISTER, Eric W., et BLABER, Andrew P. Effect of endurance exercise on autonomic control of heart rate. Sports medicine, 2003, vol. 33, no 1, p. 33-46.

2 - FOX, Kim, BORER, Jeffrey S., CAMM, A. John, et al. Resting heart rate in cardiovascular disease. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2007, vol. 50, no 9, p. 823-830.

3 - GRAHAM, Ian, ATAR, Dan, BORCH-JOHNSEN, Knut, et al. European guidelines on cardiovascular disease prevention in clinical practice: executive summary. European heart journal, 2007.

4 - JOUVEN, Xavier, ZUREIK, Mahmoud, DESNOS, Michel, et al. Resting heart rate as a predictive risk factor for sudden death in middle-aged men.Cardiovascular Research, 2001, vol. 50, no 2, p. 373-378.

5 - LEVINE, Herbert J., et al. Rest heart rate and life expectancy. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 1997, vol. 30, no 4, p. 1104-1106.

6 - COSTILL, David L. et WILMORE, Jack H. Physiologie du sport et de l'exercice: adaptations physiologiques à l'exercice physique. De Boeck Supérieur, 2006.

LEARN MORE...

Now that you know everything, you just have to determine you resting HR & your maximum HR to make sure you exercise at the right pace in the appropriate HR zone for you!

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