How to Improve Heart Rate Recovery

Updated June 13, 2017

Your heart rate is an important indicator of your cardiovascular fitness. If you find yourself winded after taking a short flight of stairs, chances are, your exercise program could use a boost. Cardiovascular fitness isn't only good for burning fat, it also helps decrease the likelihood of developing certain cardiovascular diseases and improves overall health. Improving your exercise response may seem like a daunting task at first, but, if you stick with your program, your fitness level is sure to improve.

Locate a stopwatch or clock with a second hand.

Pick a cardiovascular exercise. Perform the activity for 20 to 30 minutes.

Check your heart rate immediately after exercise by counting the number of beats for 30 seconds at either your carotid or radial pulse. Record this number in your workout journal.

Check your heart rate again after two minutes. This second heart rate is your heart rate recovery. Record this number in your workout journal, as well.

Begin a program of regular cardiovascular exercise. Select the piece or pieces of equipment you plan to use in your cardiovascular program.

Sign up for a fitness class, such as spinning or kick-boxing. Challenge yourself during each class.

Perform 30 to 45 minutes of moderately intense cardiovascular exercise, three to five days per week. Stay consistent with your cardiovascular program.

Train at 75 to 85 per cent of your heart rate maximum during each workout if possible.

Recalculate your recovery heart rate to determine if you've made any progress after four weeks of consistent exercise.


Purchasing a heart rate monitor can make keeping up with your heart rate much easier than having to locate your pulse. Workout out at an intensity comparable to your fitness level.


Consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program. If you're on blood pressure lowering medication, don't use heart rate as an indicator of intensity level. Instead, use your tiredness to gauge how hard you're working. Certain blood pressure medications prevent changes in heart rate during exercise.

Things You'll Need

  • Stopwatch
  • Cardiovascular equipment
  • Workout journal
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About the Author

Sha Buckines is a freelance writer, fitness and nutrition expert based in Atlanta. She has trained celebrity clients as well as business professionals since 2001. She obtained her B.S. in exercise science from Georgia State University, is American College of Sports Medicine certified and teaches group fitness classes.