Your recovery rate after exercise is a good indicator of your overall cardiovascular health. Both your heart and muscles need a brief time to recover after the strain of exercise. A healthy heart should reach 50 to 75 percent of its maximum heart rate during exercise. Once you know how to keep track of your active heart rate, you can take note of how quickly it returns to a resting rate after exercise.
Average Recovery Rates
On average, the heart of a typical adult returns to normal approximately 20 to 30 seconds after stopping exercise. Children enjoy a shorter recovery period, as do highly fit individuals who engage in frequent, regular exercise. If you increase the length or intensity of your exercise routine, your recovery rate will also increase. Over time, as you continue to engage in more strenuous exercise, your body will adjust and your recovery rate will approach its old value. The length of time it takes to return varies widely according to the individual and the changes in your routine, so you may notice a speedy return to normal or it may be more gradual.
Factors That Contribute to Heart Rate Recovery
Regular exercise and a balanced diet can strengthen your heart, but other lifestyle choices such as smoking may have a negative effect on your heart’s ability to perform during exercise and recovery. Your weight and age also influence your heart’s health. If you are an overweight smoker who only exercises occasionally, your recovery rate will extend beyond the optimal 20 to 30 seconds and you may feel winded and strained for a minute or more. In order to ensure a more optimal recovery rate, exercise regularly and avoid the factors that have a negative impact on your heart.
Improving Your Muscle Recovery After Exercise
Your muscles also need to recover after exercise. The period immediately after exercise, when your limbs feel heavy or weak, is the time in which your skeletal muscles begin to recover. The length of this recovery period varies significantly from one person to another, but you can take steps to speed your muscle recovery period as well. You can improve your recovery by stimulating muscle protein synthesis, ensuring proper fuel for your muscles, and maintaining blood glucose during and immediately after exercise. Every day, ensure that your diet includes 1.4 to 2 grams of protein per killogram of your body weight. For example, if you weigh 175 pounds -- about 79 killograms -- you should consume between 111 and 159 grams per day. Your total protein should make up about 30 percent of your calories at every meal. Immediately after exercise, drink a protein drink or eat some lean, protein-rich meat such as turkey. Drink carbohydrate-rich fluids such as sports drinks to quench your thirst during exercise and recovery. Your skeletal muscles depend on protein and the amino acid leucine to speed their recovery at this time. Consuming proteins immediately after exercise gives them the boost they need to recover quickly.
Your Recovery Rate as an Indicator of Mortality
In an interview with ABC’s Norman Swan, Michael Lauer recalled the results of laboratory experiments that tracked heart rate recovery times and compared them with the mortality rates of test subjects. This experiment showed that the subjects who took 60 seconds or more for their heart rates to drop significantly experienced a much higher risk of death due to chronic heart disease and other age-related illnesses. Inversely, when you work to keep your recovery time low, you improve your overall health and reduce your risk of certain chronic conditions and early death.