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June 11, 2021

What is a Good Resting Heart Rate by Age and Gender?

For most adults, a resting heart rate (RHR) between 60 and 100 beats per minute is normal and it generally increases with age, but there are many factors that can affect RHR.

By Casey Meserve

What is resting heart rate?

RHR, also called basal heart rate, is a measure of your average heart beats per minute (bpm) while your body is at rest in a neutrally temperate environment and has not been subject to recent strain. The metric is useful for monitoring your fitness level and heart health. A lower resting heart rate is usually a good sign. The average RHR is between 60-100 bpm, according to the American Heart Association.

Generally speaking, when your heart rate decreases, it means that each beat is more effective. A low RHR is a sign of a strong heart muscle that can pump enough blood to supply the body with oxygen without having to labor too hard. When your heart doesn’t need to work as hard to push blood through your body to supply oxygen to your muscles, your level of fitness increases.

 

Women have higher RHRs than men

Women typically have smaller hearts than men do. As a result, each heartbeat produces less blood flow, meaning the heart needs to pump faster in order to achieve the necessary output. WHOOP data shows this translates into an average RHR about 3.5 bpm higher for females than males.

Across all ages, the average resting heart rate for women wearing WHOOP is 58.8 bpm, and for men it’s 55.2 bpm.

Since many of our members tend to be athletes and/or people who are particularly interested in monitoring their health and well-being, it’s not surprising that the normal RHR for men and women on WHOOP is below what the Center of Disease Control considers average.

 

Resting heart rate by age and gender (Chart)

As we age our RHR changes, increasing until around 40 years old and then leveling off. The charts below show how resting heart rates of WHOOP members and Americans overall vary by gender and change over time.

resting heart rate whoop members

Average RHR by age for male and female WHOOP members.

Resting heart rate by age and gender chart

RHR by age and gender for the average adult, based on data from the US DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES.

Factors that affect resting heart rate

Prolonged stress can increase RHR and lead to a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Overall, 60% of the time WHOOP members input experiencing stress (via the WHOOP Journal feature) it results in an increase in resting heart rate. Our data indicates men and women see similar changes in RHR due to stress in most age groups. Other emotions, such as happiness, can also raise your RHR.

More factors that affect RHR include:

  • Weight–there is a correlation between RHR and body mass index (BMI). High BMI is associated with elevated RHR according to this study.
  • Pregnancy can increase RHR.
  • Coffee and caffeinated drinks can temporarily raise your RHR.
  • Smoking increases RHR. Researchers at University College London found that RHR decreases by an average 5–15 bpm within a day of stopping smoking and remains at that level for at least a year.
  • Consuming alcohol can increase RHR.
  • Decongestants or allergy medications may elevate RHR.
  • Blood pressure medications such as Beta blockers and some migraine medications can lower RHR.
  • Disorders such as anemia, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can affect RHR.
  • Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a lower metabolism and raise RHR.
  • High air temperatures and high humidity can increase RHR.
  • Body position–RHR can be 3 bpm higher when sitting versus lying down and rises upon standing, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Stress resting heart rate

When WHOOP members report stress, RHR increases by an average of 1 beat per minute.

What can resting heart rate readings indicate?

Your heart rate varies from minute to minute, but your RHR tends to remain fairly stable from day to day. Altogether, there is a wide range of normal RHR, depending on gender, age and many other factors, however, experiencing unusually high or low RHR may indicate an underlying problem.

In adults, a lower RHR is correlated with a higher degree of fitness and lower incidence of cardiac events. A consistently higher RHR may be associated with cardiovascular issues.

 

How to improve RHR

Starting to improve RHR can be as easy as walking out the door. A brisk walk will elevate your heart rate during the activity and for a short period after, and exercising daily gradually decreases your RHR. Swimming, cycling, and other activities that target the aerobic heart rate zone will also help lower your RHR and benefit your overall fitness level.

 

How WHOOP tracks your RHR

Monitoring RHR on your own can be quite difficult and often inaccurate. WHOOP calculates your RHR while you’re sleeping each night using a dynamic average weighted towards your deepest periods of sleep, when your body is in its most restful state. This allows for extremely reliable and consistent readings.

You can track your RHR trends in our app and note behaviors that may affect your RHR in the Journal. Additionally, WHOOP uses your RHR (along with heart rate variability, respiratory rate and sleep performance) to calculate your recovery each morning, so you can get a daily “physical forecast” for your body.

 

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Casey Meserve

Casey Meserve is a writer at WHOOP. Prior to joining WHOOP, they were an SEO Strategist at TechTarget, an editor at Patch.com, and a reporter for the Old Colony Memorial in Plymouth, Mass. Casey graduated from Bridgewater State University with a master’s degree in English Literature and from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts where they studied Journalism and played rugby. Casey lives in the woods of Rhode Island and enjoys growing vegetables and flowers for the deer to eat, running (slowly) and watching the Boston Bruins.

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