Resting heart rate can be measured by hand on the wrist or on the neck, or by using a heart rate monitor. It's important to understand the significance of the resting heart rate, as well as when to take it, what it means and the danger associated with a high resting heart rate.
Adult males average a resting heart rate of 70 beats per minute, and adult females average a resting heart rate of 75 beats per minute. The healthy range for adults is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. The resting heart rate lowers with age; young people are known to have resting heart rates well over 100 beats per minute.
The best time to measure resting heart rate is in the morning before getting out of bed. Set the alarm five minutes earlier than normal, and put on a heart-rate monitor. Lie still for at least two minutes while monitoring your heart rate. If you measure your resting heart rate at different times of the day or in different body positions, you may notice that it varies by as much as 10 beats per minute. Measuring it first thing in the morning will give you the most accurate results.
Resting heart rate can be a good indicator of health and fitness levels. Endurance athletes have been shown to consistently have resting heart rates under the gender and age averages.
The resting heart rate is generally lower in individuals who exercise consistently, because exercise trains the heart to pump more blood per stroke. Exercise also trains the muscles to use oxygen more efficiently, taking even more stress off the heart. A resting heart rate above gender averages could mean that the heart is weak or that the body is not using oxygen efficiently.
A higher-than-normal resting heart rate could be a sign that something is wrong. For athletes, it can be an indicator of overtraining. A higher-than-normal resting heart rate can also indicate high stress levels. Individuals with resting heart rates higher than the gender averages have been shown to be at a greater risk of heart attacks. These individuals are considered to be in a danger zone if the resting heart rate is more than 100 beats per minute.