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Heart rate is defined as the frequency of heartbeats per unit time. In general, it is estimated as the number of times the heart beats (or contracts) per minute (bpm). Measuring the heart rate is effective to check the overall fitness of an individual and presence of any medical problems pertaining to the heart health. There are recommended levels for normal heart rate, which help detect any abnormal signs of heart pumping. Also, maximum heart rate (MHR) refers to the maximum number of times one's heart can contract per minute.

Heart rate can be measured when a person is at resting state or while performing exercise. The former is referred to as resting heart rate while the latter measurement is called working heart rate. Resting heart rate (RHR) is best measured in the early morning, just after waking up, while working heart rate can be measured during exercise or immediately within 5 minutes after performing rigorous exercise.

Heart Rate Considered Normal

Heart rate is estimated either manually or with the help of heart rate monitors, both of which involve monitoring the pulse. Manual measurement of heart rate is mostly done by determining the radial pulse (ventral side of hand) and carotid pulse (side of the neck). Besides these methods, a more accurate alternative is by means of an electrocardiograph that records the electrical impulses of the heart. The following is a brief discussion on the normal heart rate for specified groups of people.

Fetus: Fetal heart rate is monitored during pregnancy in order to check for any abnormalities of the developing fetus. During the first trimester, the heart rate of a fetus is low. The normal range of heart rate for a fetus is 110 to 180 bpm. It may fluctuate during different times of the day, and may increase to about 190 bpm.

Children: The normal heart rate for children, ranging from 1-10 years is 70-120 bpm. The heart rate gradually decreases with an increase in age. For example, for children below 5 years, 95 to 140 bpm is normal while for those above 5 years, it is 80 to 120 bpm. The normal heartbeats for children is higher than adults.

Men: The normal rate of heart beats for an adult man is about 70 bpm. Nevertheless, the heart rate measuring between 60 to 100 bpm is considered healthy. In comparison to this, the normal heart rate for well-trained athletes is low, usually between 40 to 60, depending upon the fitness level.

Women: For women, the normal range is somewhere around 70 to 80 bpm. For a pregnant woman, the heart rate may increase up to 85-90 bpm. Similar to men, the resting heart rate falling within the range of 60 to 90 bpm is considered to be normal for women.

Heart Rate During Exercise: In order to gain the full benefits of physical activities and weight-training exercises, it is important to have higher stamina. In other words, you should not get tired very quickly while performing exercises. The effective method to determine the exercise intensity and fitness level is to use a heart-rate monitor. The normal heart rate during exercise is 55-85 percent higher than the maximum heart rate.

Normal Heart Rate Table

In order to get a quick glance for normal heart rate with respect to your age or fitness level, you can refer to the table given below:

Age Group/ Level of FitnessNormal Beats Per Minute (bpm)
Babies (under 1 year)100 to 160
Children (1 to 10 years)60 to 140
Children (above 10 years) and Adults60 to 100
Well-trained athletes40 to 60

Doctors monitor the resting heart rate to examine the risk of heart attacks and stroke. As per medical experts, abnormal heart rates, either too low or too high is a sign of underlying medical problems. For an adult, immediate medical attention is needed if the resting heart rate consistently exceeds 100 bpm (tachycardia) or measures below 60 bpm (bradycardia). Overall, maintaining the heart rate to the recommended normal range is crucial for leading a healthy and disease-free life.

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