The heart is the lifeline of the human body. To simplify the definition of heart rate, it is the number of times the heart beats in a specified amount of time, and the standard time that is mostly used is 1 minute. It is represented in the unit bpm, i.e. beats per minute. For the human heart, the average heart rate for an adult is between 60 to 100 bpm. Anything above or below this normal range can indicate an underlying health issue, and would need to be looked into.

Age GroupAverage Heart Rate
Newborn120 - 160
Up To 1 Year80 - 140
1 to 2 Years80 - 130
2 - 6 Years75 - 120
7 - 12 Years75 - 110
13 - 18 Years70 - 110
18 and Above60 - 110
Sportsperson40 - 60

Why is it measured?

The heart rate shows the number of times your heart contracts, pumps blood, and relaxes again, within one minute. It signifies how well or hard your heart is working. This in turn determines your overall health and fitness. In most cases, doctors may check the heart rate for diagnosis or checking the results of various treatments or medicines. It only is consequential in case of an injury or a health problem.
Athletes and sportsmen usually check their average heart rate frequently. This kind of monitoring helps them gain maximum efficiency while training and participating in any sports event.
For an average person, measuring the heart rate may not seem important. However, it is better to keep a track of your heart's health at regular intervals.

How to measure average heart rate?

When blood is pumped through the arteries, there are specific areas in the body where the blood vessels close to the skin surface can feel the pumping/pulse. This makes measuring the heart rate very simple. The areas where the pulse can be felt are:
  • Wrist - near the radial artery
  • Neck - carotid artery (just next to Adam's Apple)
  • Inner side of the elbow
  • Groin
  • Ankle
  • Behind the knee, artery on the rear side of the leg (going through the calf muscle)
  • Over the abdomen
  • Chest
  • Lateral edge of the bone forming the lower jaw and the temple
Surely, many of you must have experienced a kind of throbbing sensation at the temple in a highly emotional state. That is nothing but an increased pulse.

For the test all you have to do is:

Place your index finger and third finger on the wrist or the neck (the pulse can be easily found in these spots), and press lightly so that you feel the pulse. Sometimes, the pulse may not be easily located, therefore, move the fingers around to find the exact location.
Count the number of times your pulse is beating. You may count for 1 minute or for 30 or 15 seconds, whichever is convenient. If you count for 30 seconds, multiply the number of beats by 2. If you count for 15 seconds, multiply the number of beats by 4, to get your average heartbeat.
A regular rhythm will be noticed in most of the cases. However, there may be times when a beat may be skipped. It is absolutely normal and common among most people to skip a beat or feel the heart flutter once in a while.
More than 90% of people will have an average heart rate between 65 to 100 bpm. However, this may depend on many factors.
Gender, age, overall fitness, medication and health issues if any, may cause the heart rate to vary. Other factors like surrounding temperature and your physical position, emotional state, etc., may also affect the average heart rate count.

What are the other situations when it is calculated?

Maximum Heart Rate: The term maximum heart rate (Max HR) refers to the maximum number of beats your heart makes in a minute. This is most commonly used during or immediately after exercising. Max HR helps in tracking heart health, and the intensity of the exercise. The easiest way to calculate Max HR is to subtract your age from 220. So, if you are 30 years old, it would be 190. Now, when you are going to exercise, the average and healthy value would be around 50 to 60% of your maximum heart rate. So, for a 30 year old individual, it is going to be somewhere around 95 and 110. It will vary slightly depending upon the sex and the constitution of the individual. Heart rate is generally measured during an exercise period. To measure the average value during and after exercise, you would first need to know the maximum heart rate.

Resting Heart Rate: Heart rate is also calculated when we are not indulging in any activity. This is called resting heart rate. It is the number of beats in a minute while you are totally at rest. Again, it is a reflection of your health and fitness levels, and your heart health. The lesser effort and fewer beats it takes for your heart to pump blood to your resting body, the better it is.

Recovery Heart Rate: Your heartbeat is maximum during exercise or any other rigorous activity. However, after completing an exercise, the heartbeat drops to attain its normal count at rest. Recovery heart rate is the value at which your heartbeat drops in two minutes after you stop exercising. To simplify this, if you workout for 15 minutes, and your Max HR was 130, after two minutes of completing the exercise, this value dropped to 92. So your recovery heart rate is 130 - 92, that is 38. This also helps in determining heart health and your fitness, since how soon your heart settles back to normal after a workout is also important.

Things to consider

When the heartbeat is lower than average, i.e. lower than 60 bpm, the condition is termed as Bradycardia (*except for athletes, most athletes and sportsmen have an average heart rate of less than 60). In cases where the average heart rate is higher than the normal standard of 100 bpm, it is termed as Tachycardia. In certain cases, the heart rate may go higher at times and lower at other instances. This condition, where the heart speed fluctuates, is termed as Arrhythmia, which indicates an underlying heart abnormality.

In most cases, the results will be normal, however, in case of the above conditions, one must immediately consult a medical expert.

Other situations when the rate is noticeably increased is while running and after walking for at least a mile. It all depends on your activity, your exercise and mental calm. Yes, even your mental peace can be a factor affecting your heart. Ensure that you keep it healthy. Take care!

Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a replacement for professional medical advice.