A Doctor’s Guide To A Good, Resting Heart

Dr. Pradeep Kumar D, Sr. Consultant Interventional Cardiology, Aster CMI Hospital, Bengaluru, India

Heart rate refers to the number of times a person’s heart beats in a minute. The heart rate can be measured while at rest (resting heart rate) or while exercising (training heart rate).
The best time to test the resting heart rate is early in the morning, before getting out of the bed – ideally after a good night’s sleep.
A normal heart rate: In the general population there is a wide variation amongst normal people regarding their resting heart rate. The generally accepted range of resting heart rate is 60 -100 beats per minute.
Heart rate through the day: The resting heart of an individual varies from beat to beat and also according to the time of the day. The heart rate is at its lowest during sleep and highest early in the morning.
Factors affecting the heart rate: A person’s heart rate depends on multiple factors and is regulated by very complex mechanisms. The hypothalamus (a primitive part of the brain) regulates the heart rate from beat to beat through the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.
Heart rate can vary due to various physiological processes (like exercise/fear/ anxiety/stress) and pathological states (diseases involving the heart/ infections/ neurological problems). In general people who are athletic tend to have lower resting heart rates and compared to people who do not exercise.
Variation in the Heart rate: When the heart rate fluctuates from low to high it is a sign of good health.  It is considered better to have a variable heart rate as compared to a fixed heart rate.