By the time you're a teenager, your normal resting heart rate — or pulse — should be the same as an adult's. The normal heart rate for a 15-year-old is about the same as for an adult, a senior citizen or children aged 10 and older: between 60 to 100 beats per minute (bpm), according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
It's also not uncommon for active people to have lower resting heart rates than those who are less physically fit. In fact, well-trained athletes can have a normal pulse rate of 40 to 60 bpm. Similarly, younger athletes can have lower heart rates, too. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), people who are physically fit have lower heart rates because their hearts don't have to work as hard to keep up a steady heartbeat.
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"In kids that are athletes, or teenagers that do gymnastics all the time, or swimming all the time, or running all the time, their heart rate can be lower than normal," says Amalia Guardiola, MD, a pediatrician and assistant professor with McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Science Center at Houston (UT Health). "And that could be scary for some parents ... but it's just because, like an adult athlete, their bodies are [better conditioned]."
Other than your physical fitness levels, there are plenty of other factors that affect heart rate, according to the AHA. For example, in a hot, humid environment the heart has to pump more blood, which raises the heart rate. Being stressed or anxious can also raise a teenager's pulse.
Read more: Normal Heart Rate When Walking
How to Measure Resting Heart Rate
Typically, doctors don't recommend that teenagers or adults regularly check their heart rate, says Dr. Guardiola. But if you're wondering if you're at a healthy bpm, you can easily check your resting heart rate (or your teen's) yourself, at home.
To get a good reading of your heartbeat, you should be resting for at least 10 minutes. Good places to find your pulse, according to the AHA, include your wrists, the inside of your elbows, the side of your neck and the top of your foot. Once you choose the location you want to measure, put your finger on your pulse, then count the number of times you hear a heartbeat during the next 60 seconds.
What to Know About Abnormal Heart Rates in Teens
Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns. Possible abnormal heart rates, called arrhythmias, according to the Nemours Foundation, include tachycardias (an abnormally fast heartbeat) and bradycardias (an abnormally slow heartbeat).
For example, one common tachycardia is called a supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), in which the upper chambers in the heart fire abnormal signals, resulting in a fast heart rate. Symptoms of SVT include dizziness, lightheadedness, chest discomfort, weakness, an upset stomach and heart palpitations, according to the AHA.
If your doctor suspects that you or your teen has an arrhythmia, he or she will likely do an electrocardiogram test (an EKG or ECG) to monitor the heart's activity. Keep in mind that some arrhythmias do not require treatment.
- American Heart Association: "Types of Arrhythmia in Children"
- Teen Health From Nemours: "Arrhythmias"
- American Heart Association: "All About Heart Rate (Pulse)"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Pulse"
- MedLinePlus: Pulse
- American Council on Exercise: How Do I Measure Resting and Exercise Heart Rates
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Target Heart Rate and Estimated Maximum Heart Rate
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