Resting heart rate – to assess aerobic fitness

How RHR can indicate your fitness level

Counting the number of beats of your resting heart rate (RHR) is a useful way of indicating your fitness progress. It should reduce as your aerobic fitness improves. Here's our guide to working out your daily RHR.

women doing aerobic fitness exercises

Your resting heart rate (RHR) represents the number of times your heart beats each minute when you are at rest. Since a strong cardiovascular system allows your heart to pump more blood with every beat, a lower RHR tends to correspond with higher aerobic fitness (for example, cyclist Lance Armstrong’s RHR was allegedly only 32 beats per minute at the peak of his fitness).

To measure your RHR, place two fingers on your wrist, below the thumb, to locate the radial pulse, and then count the number of beats you feel in 60 seconds. You should count the first beat as ‘zero’. Do this first thing in the morning before you get up or eat/drink anything or do any exercise.

Results of this exercise test:

  • 60 or less = good
  • 61 to 80 = average
  • 81 to 100 = high, but still considered acceptable
  • 101 or more = abnormally high (not good!)

Your resting heart rate is a useful marker of your fitness progress, as it will drop as you get fitter.

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