Average resting heart rates depend on several factors, including age, gender and level of physical fitness. Generally speaking, a resting heart rate in the range of 60 to 100 beats per minute is normal for men and women. However, individuals with a sedentary lifestyle typically have higher resting heart rates, while athletes and other highly trained individuals might experience an average resting heart rate of as low as 40 beats per minute.
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Healthy Heart Rate
The YMCA lists the average heart rate for women in the 36- to 45-year-old age range as 70 to 72 beats per minute. To compare, the average for men in the same age category is 68 to 70 beats per minute. Physically active women in this age group typically experience an average resting heart rate of 54 to 69 beats per minute, depending on individual fitness levels. However, these averages are just guidelines. Heart rates that differentiate from the averages might still be healthy and normal. Check with your doctor if you're concerned about a heart rate that is consistently higher or lower than average.
For the most accurate results, the American Council on Exercise recommends taking your pulse for a full minute when you wake up, before you even get out of bed. Keep in mind that factors such as eating, drinking or stress can affect your resting heart rate assessment. To determine your average resting heart rate, check your pulse in the morning five to seven days in a row and take the average.
The range for normal resting heart rates for women 38 years old provides a wide margin of healthy targets, but keep in mind that your resting heart rate indicates how efficiently your heart is doing its job, as well as your level of cardiovascular fitness. Building your cardiovascular endurance by gradually increasing the intensity and duration of your workouts helps lower your resting heart rate over time by training your heart to pump more blood per beat, thereby decreasing the number of beats required to get its work done.
Your emotional state, your weight, the air temperature and any medications you take can affect your resting heart rate, according to MayoClinic.com. If you consistently have a resting heart rate above 100 beats per minute or lower than 60 beats per minute – with the exception of highly trained athletes – consult your doctor. Tachycardia, a higher than normal heart rate, and bradycardia, a lower than normal heart rate, are characterized by symptoms such as dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pains and fainting.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- American Heart Association: Physical Activity and Blood Pressure
- MayoClinic.com; What's a Normal Resting Heart Rate?; Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.; Sept. 2010
- YMCA: YMCA Norms for Resting Heart Rate
- American Council on Exercise: How Do I Measure Resting and Exercise Heart Rates? What Is the Karvonen Formula?
- MayoClinic.com; Tachycardia Symptoms; May 2011
- MayoClinic.com: Bradycardia Symptoms; May 2011
- Cleveland Clinic: Pulse and Target Heart Rate