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Monitoring your heart rate can help you stay healthy.
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The American Heart Association defines your heart rate as the number of times your heart beats per minute. A normal heart rate averages between 60 and 100 beats per minute but varies based on many individual factors. These include your age, height, weight, medicines you may be taking, body mass index -- a measure of body weight -- and health factors including your physical fitness. Understanding and monitoring your heart rate can help you gauge your overall health and wellness.
Resting Heart Rate
Your resting heart rate is a good indicator of how hard your heart is working while at rest. This may be indicative of how healthy your body is and can reflect your total body size. The AHA defines your resting heart rate as the number of times your heart beats while resting. The best time to calculate your resting heart rate is before you get out of bed in the morning. Most people have an average resting heart rate of 60 to 80 beats per minute. A greater body size may affect resting pulse rate but not by more than 100 bpm.
Target Heart Rate
If you are exercising to maintain your body weight or lose weight, calculate your target heart rate, which is equal to 50 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. Use an online calculator to determine your target heart rate, like the one offered at the American Heart Association or the Mayo Clinic. You can also manually calculate your target heart rate. To do this, subtract your age from 220. This is your heart rate max. Subtract your resting heart rate from this number. This is your lower limit. Multiply your lower limit by 0.5, and this will provide you with 50 percent of your maximum heart rate. Multiply this figure by 0.85 to get the upper limit of your target heart rate.
Body Mass Index
A study by the Division of Neurology at Deaconess Hospital in Boston found a direct relationship between heart rate and body mass index. BMI is a tool used to measure body weight that is directly proportional to height. BMI can predict recovery rates from exercise. BMI is a numerical representation of the relationship of weight to height and helps determine the lean tissue-to-fat ratio in your body. You can use any number of calculators on the Web including one available on the American Heart Association's website to calculate your personal BMI.
If you are overweight, your heart rate will increase. Your heart is like any other muscle in the body. You have to exercise it and keep fit so that your heart rate can remain steady and within normal limits. As you work to lose weight, your heart becomes more efficient at pumping blood through the body. Your BMI is a good indicator of how fit you are. Measure your resting heart rate and know what your target heart rate is so that you can exercise efficiently and maintain a healthy BMI.