Resting pulse is colloquially referred to as the heart rate when the body is at absolute rest.
In order to recognize an elevated pulse and to treat it at an early stage, it is advisable to measure the pulse regularly. This can be done easily at home and requires no further aids.
What is the resting pulse?
The resting pulse is the number of heartbeats at rest, i.e. when the body is not under any load. In common parlance, the resting pulse is understood as the resting heart rate. This indicates the number of times the heart contracts per minute without strain in order to pump blood through the body. The resting heart rate is also called normal resting pulse or normal pulse.
Certain diseases or stress can lead to an increased pulse rate (tachycardia). Medications and cardiac arrhythmias can also slow down the pulse rate. Then one speaks of a bradycardia. However, a low normal pulse does not have to be caused by illnesses. Athletes, especially endurance athletes, also have a lower resting heart rate.
How to measure the pulse?
The pulse rate can be easily felt on different parts of the body. Generally, the pulse is measured where a large artery runs, for example on the wrist or carotid artery. The best way to do this, however, is to use the vein on the wrist just below the thumb. A guide on how to measure the pulse correctly and more detailed information can be found in the article Measuring the Pulse.
What pulse values are normal?
The normal value for the pulse is 70 to 80 beats per minute for adults. The normal pulse depends however on many different factors. These include general (permanent) factors and factors that apply specifically to a day or a moment.
General influencing factors
The resting pulse is influenced by the following factors:
- Training condition
The training condition indicates whether one does a lot or little sport. Especially endurance sports like cycling or running can lower the resting pulse rate. If you exercise continuously over a long period of time, you will naturally have a lower normal pulse rate.
Special influencing factors
Other factors can influence the pulse at a particular moment. These include the following:
- Physical exertion (u.a. Sports)
- Mental tension
- Time of day
In particular, physical exertion and also psychological tension such as stress lead to an immediate increase from the pulse rate. Caffeine and alcohol also increase the pulse. People with fever have an increased pulse value of up to 15 beats during the duration of this.
Diseases also have an effect on the pulse. These include the following:
- Heart muscle inflammation
- Renal pelvic inflammatory disease
- Blood poisoning
In the case of inflammations such as pneumonia, there is often a sharp increase in the pulse, which rises to up to 120 beats per minute. Even in the case of sunstroke or. Heat stroke is caused by too much sun, which leads to an inflammatory reaction in the brain, associated with dizziness and a high pulse rate.
Pulse normal values by age (table)
Resting pulse rate depends on age on the one hand, and on fitness level as well as gender on the other hand.
Pulse normal values by age
The following overview shows the average pulse normal values depending on age. The overview shows that the resting pulse is higher in children and falls continuously into adulthood. Only in seniors are the values again somewhat higher.
|Age group||Age||Normal values resting pulse|
|Newborns||0 – 1 year||120/min|
|Infant||2 – 3 years||110/min|
|Preschooler||4 – 7 years||100/min|
|Child||8 – 13 years||90/min|
|Adolescent||14 – 17 years||85/min|
|Adult woman||18 – 64 years||75/min|
|Adult male||16 – 64 years||70/min|
A normal pulse that is too high can be an important warning signal for cardiac arrhythmias and other cardiovascular diseases. Therefore it is recommended to measure your own pulse regularly. If the resting pulse rate remains elevated for a long time, a doctor should be consulted.
Resting pulse in adults
Adult resting heart rate is between 70 and 80 beats per minute. In women, the resting pulse rate is usually higher than in men. For seniors, 70 to 90 heartbeats per minute is considered normal. Accordingly, there is no such thing as an ideal value for the normal pulse rate.
Resting pulse rate in children
The heart of children is smaller than that of adults and beats correspondingly faster at rest. In newborns, the pulse at rest is about 110 to 150 beats per minute. In elementary school-aged children, the resting pulse rate then drops to about 90 to 100 beats per minute; in adolescents, it is 85 beats per minute.
Pulse normal values by gender
The following overview shows the resting pulse values according to gender and age. The subdivision shows which value is very good, good, normal, below average and bad.
Normal pulse rate in women
For women, a resting pulse between 75 and 78 beats per minute is normal. This is slightly higher than for men. This is because women have smaller hearts than men. This results in a higher pulse rate because the smaller heart muscle has to work harder to pump the same amount of blood through the body.
Pulse normal values in men
For men, a resting pulse between 70 and 73 beats per minute is normal. This means that the normal values for the pulse in men are slightly below those of women. However, this is only the case at rest. During physical activity and especially during sports, pulse rates are significantly lower in males than in females. Here one assumes up to 15 beats difference per minute.
Resting pulse and normal values for athletes
In athletes, a so-called athlete’s heart develops. This is especially the case with endurance sports such as cycling or running, but also to a lesser extent with strength training.
The better trained the heart is, the more blood it can transport through the body with a single contraction. Through regular training, the heart gains muscle mass and volume. The heart walls are thicker and the heart chambers are enlarged. Due to the thickening and enlargement of the heart, more blood is pumped through the body with each heartbeat. Since the heart can pump more blood through the body with each beat, it must beat correspondingly less often.
What is the training pulse (stress pulse)??
Exercise pulse is the number of heartbeats when the body is under stress for an extended period of time, such as during exercise. This is significantly higher than the resting pulse.
In endurance sports, there is an optimal training pulse below which endurance can be increased. The more endurance sports you do over a longer period of time with the same load, the lower your training pulse will be, as your body adapts to the load. This also makes it possible to increase performance and achieve a greater output. At the same time, the resting pulse rate without load also decreases due to long-term training.
Pulse normal values in athletes
The heart of an athlete therefore beats more slowly at rest than the heart of an untrained or only moderately trained person and comes to about 40 to 50 contractions per minute. This may be irregular at rest, but this is not uncommon and during training the pulse becomes regular again.
What is a high pulse?
A high pulse rate is given in adults from 80 heartbeats per minute onwards. In this case, the resting heart rate is significantly above the normal values.
Physical exertion, sports but also, for example, caffeine or excitement before a certain situation can cause the pulse to rise briefly and is then higher for a short time than at rest. This is completely normal and when the situation is over, the pulse returns to normal. Also during flu infections or colds with fever, the pulse is elevated and when you are healthy again, the pulse values are normalized again.
However, if the pulse is permanently elevated without specific causes, then this may indicate illness and increase the risk of disease. If the pulse rate is permanently 90 heartbeats per minute or more, then the heart is under a lot of strain. If the pulse rate is 100 beats per minute or more, this is called tachycardia, which is colloquially known as palpitations. This form of rapid heartbeat with high frequency needs medical examination and treatment.
What is a low pulse?
A low pulse is when the heartbeat is slowed and the heart beats less than 60 times per minute. The reasons for this can be manifold. For example, endurance athletes often have a markedly low resting pulse and thus the causes are harmless. In this case the heart is strong and in good health. However, a low pulse can also be triggered by illnesses and indicate these.
If a person suffers from a low pulse below 60 beats and there are other symptoms such as dizziness, headaches and difficulty concentrating, these are typical signs of bradycardia. This is a heart rhythm disorder in which organs lack oxygen and nutrients. Just like the high pulse rate, this needs to be examined and treated by a doctor.
Lowering the resting pulse and preventing illness
A strong and well-trained heart can pump and transport more blood through the bloodstream per heartbeat. As a result, it has to beat less often per minute and the resting pulse rate decreases. An untrained weak heart, on the other hand, must beat more frequently, since it pumps relatively little blood through the arteries per heartbeat.
An untrained heart can cause stress in the body. Because it must beat permanently more often to maintain the blood circulation. This permanent increase in heart rate is caused by the release of stress hormones, which drive up the pulse rate. For example, the resting pulse can beat up to 140 times per minute for a long period of time, resulting in heart failure.
While the pulse rate of healthy, trained people decreases at night, a weak heart does not rest even at night and still beats at an increased rate. All this increases the risk of a heart attack and cardiac death. Also people with a high stress level and burnout out symptoms often show pulse values above the normal pulse.
Therefore, if you take care of your heart and have a healthy heart, you can actively prevent disease. For a healthy heart worry the following measures:
- Healthy food
- avoid stress
- Relaxation exercises such as yoga, Tai Chi, breathing exercises or autogenic training
- Endurance sports (swimming, jogging, cycling)
People with heart disease should coordinate any measures with their doctor beforehand. In particular, completely untrained should only slowly begin with sports activities and this only under prior instruction and guidance.