I discovered I had a low resting heart rate (RHR), in my 20’s and out of interest, last July, I purchased a Garmin VIVO3 fitbit activity tracker. Some reviews suggested they weren’t very accurate, however, in comparison with counting beats with two fingers on my wrist, this has not been my experience.

“A normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 – 100 beats per minute (bpm). Generally, a lower heart rate at rest implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness. For example, a well-trained athlete might have a normal resting heart rate closer to 40 bpm”

“A lower RHR indicates that the heart is functioning efficiently, pumping more blood and oxygen throughout the body with less effort, sending us oxygen to fuel muscles during exercise”

As I am no longer the well honed machine of my 20’s and 30’s and had stopped running seven years ago, I wanted a more accurate method of measuring my fitness levels; workout intensity, (VO2) Volume of Oxygen intake levels and recovery time.

Back in my 40’s my RHR ranged from 42 – 46 bpm, averaging 44 bpm. I was surprised to find that I now range between 38 – 42 bpm, averaging 40 bpm. When I’m reading or sitting, it can be anything from 29 – 36 bpm.

“As a general principle, the harder you train, the more effect you’ll see on the resting heart rate,” says Dr. Thomas Allison, director of stress testing at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “With exercise, the heart gets bigger so it pumps more blood with each beat. People that exercise a lot can lower their resting heart rate by 20 to 30 beats.” In other words, you can train your heart to work more efficiently by exercising.”

My Dad had a low heart rate and I pondered if mine is a genetic thing. All my life I have had a low RHR. I have always been active: weights plus 10km runs daily, aerobics, netball, hockey, badminton. Would I have the same RHR if I hadn’t.

Since I still exercise regularly, and have for years, I can assume my relatively low RHR is a good thing, and an indication of both my current, and future cardiovascular health.

Genetics influence resting heart rate, although researchers are still figuring out to what extent. A low RHR can be dangerous, a condition called sinus bradycardia. If you have a low rate, and do not exercise regularly, see your doctor!



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