How Long Does Your Heart Rate Stay Elevated After Exercise?

In the same way that everyone's heart rate is different, everyone's recovery is also different. Athletes will return to their resting heart rate in just a few minutes, while people who haven't exercised in a long time likely take longer.

Generally speaking, the faster your heart rate drops after you stop exercising, the healthier your heart is, according to July 2021 research in ‌Research in Sports Medicine‌.


Video of the Day

Video of the Day

What Is Heart Rate Recovery?

Heart rate recovery refers to the speed at which your pulse returns to normal after you stop exercising. It's measured by calculating the difference between your highest heart rate during exercise and your heart rate one minute after you stop exercising, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

After a minute of rest, the healthiest people will see a drop in their heart rate of at least 18 beats per minute, per the Cleveland Clinic.

People whose heart rate recovery is lower than this are at a higher risk of future heart disease and earlier death, according to the ‌Research in Sports Medicine‌ study.

How to Calculate Your Heart Rate Recovery Time

All it takes is access to a heart rate monitor or fitness tracker and a little subtraction.


Make a note of your highest heart rate during your workout. This should be right at the end of the most intense exercise you're doing, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Then, check your heart rate one minute after you stop exercising.

Subtract the second number from the first, and you'll have your heart rate recovery in beats per minute.


For example, if your heart rate is 190 during the peak of your HIIT workout and a minute after you finish, it's 172, your heart rate recovery is 18 beats per minute.

Your resting heart rate, on the other hand, is how many times your heart beats per minute when you're sedentary and calm. It's usually between 60 and 100, according to the Cleveland Clinic.



It will take longer to return to that baseline heart rate after exercise. Your post-workout heart rate drops the fastest in the first 30 to 60 seconds after physical activity, per the Cleveland Clinic. It drops more slowly in the two to five minutes after exercise.

How Long Should It Take for Your Heart Rate to Return to Normal After Exercise?

Ideally, you want to see your heart rate drop by at least 18 beats per minute in that first 60 seconds after you stop working out. But estimates vary from 10 to 20 to 60 minutes after exercise for a full return to your resting heart rate. Talk to your doctor about what your heart rate recovery should look like, especially if you have any concerns about heart rate normalization.

Heart Rate Recovery by Age

Cardiovascular recovery typically slows as you get older. Use this heart rate recovery chart by age to determine a healthy heart rate recovery for you, according to April 2018 research in the ‌Journal of the American Heart Association‌.


Heart Rate Recovery by Age


Heart Rate Recovery (in Beats per Minute)

30 - 39


40 - 49


50 - 59


60 - 69


70 - 79


Source(s): Journal of the American Heart Association. (2018). “Prognostic Performance of Heart Rate Recovery on an Exercise Test in a Primary Prevention Population"

Factors That Affect Your Post-Workout Heart Rate

In addition to age, your level of fitness plays a role in how fast your heart rate returns to normal. The fitter you are, the faster your heart will recover.

The intensity of your workout also matters: If you work out harder and longer, with minimal breaks, your recovery might be slower than if you did a lower-intensity workout for less time and/or with more rest, according to the Cleveland Clinic.


If you have known heart disease, you will also take longer to recover.

How to Improve Your Heart Rate Recovery Time

Some of the factors above, like your age, are outside of your control. But you can improve your heart rate recovery time by improving your overall cardiovascular fitness.


This means starting (or maintaining) a regular exercise routine that involves at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardio activity a week, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

Talk to a trusted health care provider before starting a new exercise routine.

When to See a Doctor

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about your heart rate, whether it's after exercise or at rest.

Per the Cleveland Clinic, make sure to bring up:

  • An irregular heartbeat
  • Heart palpitations
  • A resting heart rate that is too high or low




Report an Issue

screenshot of the current page

Screenshot loading...