- A normal resting heart rate for an adult is usually between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm).
- Well-conditioned athletes may have a resting heart rate closer to 40 bpm.
- Children under 10 years old tend to have a much higher resting heart rate — for newborns, the 100 to 150 bpm range is considered normal.
- This article was medically reviewed by Jason R. McKnight, MD, MS, a family medicine physician and clinical assistant professor at Texas A&M College of Medicine.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
Your heart rate, or pulse, is the number of times your heart beats per minute.
Heart rate varies from person to person and depends on age, gender, fitness level, and overall lifestyle, but according to the American Heart Association, a normal resting heart rate for an adult ranges from 60 to 100 bpm.
It may seem inconsequential, but knowing your heart rate is an important indicator to your overall heart health, especially if you have any health conditions that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Here’s what you need to know to understand your heart rate, including what medical experts consider good and healthy.
How to measure your heart rate
Measuring your heart rate is the same as checking your pulse. The easiest, most common places to find your pulse or someone else’s pulse is at the wrist or the side of the neck.
- To measure pulse from the wrist, press your index and middle fingers on the inside of the wrist, right below the base of the thumb.
- To measure pulse from the neck, press your fingers on the neck to the side of the windpipe.
When you feel your pulse, take a few moments to take note of its strength and rhythm. When ready, count the beats you feel for 60 seconds. Alternatively, you can measure the pulse for 30 seconds and double the number to get the beats per minute.
If you prefer a more tech-inclined method, there are many fitness trackers and dedicated heart rate monitors that not only can track your heart rate automatically, but also help you set specific goals.
What’s a normal resting heart rate?
For adults, a good resting heart rate varies from person to person and depends on various factors: whether you’re on medication, laying down or standing up, standing still or on-the-move, stressed or relaxed.
While the average adult’s resting heart rate should range between 60 and 100 bpm, anything over 90 bpm is considered high. Generally speaking, lower heart rates are considered better as it means that the heart muscle doesn’t have to work as hard to keep a strong, steady rhythm.
Research has shown that a higher resting heart rate is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.
If you’re worried about resting heart rate being consistently too high or too low, and you’re not sure why, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor about what may be causing it.
Children have higher resting heart rates than adults
According to Purvi Parwani, MD, director of Women’s Heart Care at Loma Linda University International Heart Institute, children tend to have a higher resting heart rate than adults because of a faster metabolism. “For example, a newborn heart rate of 100 to 150 bpm is considered normal,” Parwani says.
However, the average resting heart rate of a child also depends on age and activity level during the day. According to the US National Library of Medicine, the resting heart rate range for children changes every few years until around 10 years old:
- Newborns 0 to 1 month old: 70 to 190 bpm
- Infants 1 to 11 months old: 80 to 160 pm
- Children 1 to 2 years old: 80 to 130 bpm
- 3 to 4 years old: 80 to 120 bpm
- 5 to 6 years old: 75 to 115 bpm
- 7 to 9 years old: 70 to 100 bpm
- 10 years and older: 60 to 100 bpm
Women may have a higher resting heart rate than men
Research has found that women up to 55 years old have a higher resting heart rate when compared with men. According to the American College of Cardiology, this may have something to do with the difference in sex hormones, especially testoserone, which is higher in men.
Parwani says some data has shown that sex hormones, body size, and heart size can have an effect on the differences in heart rate between men and women. But there are many factors that may influence someone’s heart rate, including:
- Lack of sleep
- Prolonged stress
- Smoking and drug usage
- Health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes
- Certain medications such as beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers
Target heart rate zone and exercise
Target heart rate is the healthy range of how fast your heart should be beating when engaged in physical activity. In short: It can tell you if you’re pushing too hard or too little.
According to the Mayo Clinic, you can find your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220 — this gives you the maximum number of times your heart should beat a minute.
From there, you can calculate your target heart rate zone by taking 50% to 85% of your maximum heart rate, depending on whether you’re engaging in moderate or vigorous exercise.
The graph below is a rough estimate of target heart rate zones across ages. This is a good starting point, but you may also want to consult your doctor to discuss any plans specific to you:
Once you know your target heart zone, you’ll be able to monitor whether you’re achieving your goals in a safe manner.
In fact, regular exercise can go a long way to keep your heart rate healthy. For example, a 2018 meta-analysis showed that both endurance training and yoga can decrease resting heart rate, when compared to non-exercising participants.
“Athletes generally have a lower resting heart rate due to better cardiovascular fitness and functional capacity,” says Parwani. That’s because the heart is a muscle that gets stronger with exercise.
According to Parwani, a stronger heart allows a larger amount of blood to pump out into the body with each heartbeat. “And due to a larger stroke volume, the heart doesn’t have to beat that fast,” she says.
That’s why endurance athletes tend to have a lower heart rate — their heart is working more efficiently. In fact, a good resting heart rate for a well-trained athlete may be closer to 40 bpm.