A resting heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute while you are not being active or exercising. A resting heart rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute is considered normal. How quickly your heart rate returns to its resting rate after exercise may be linked to how healthy you are. It can also be linked to genetics. AncestryDNA® Traits can tell you if people with DNA like yours more quickly recover to their resting heart rate.
What is Heart Rate Recovery?
Exercise—including running, biking, or even strenuous yoga—increases your heart rate. The more intense the exercise, the higher your heart rate goes. Fitness watches can measure this, or you can measure it manually, by taking your pulse (count beats for 15 seconds and multiply by 4).
You can measure your heart rate recovery in the one-minute period after exercise. Find it by taking your pulse immediately after intense exercise, again one minute later, and then take the difference. For example, if your heart rate is 145 when you finish your run, and 125 a minute later, your heart rate recovery is 20. A landmark study found the average heart rate recovery to be around 17.
Why Heart Rate Recovery Matters
Fitness isn't just about how hard you can work your heart. It's also about how quickly your heart returns to its resting rate. Many studies have looked at the relationship between heart rate recovery and athletic fitness. In general, these studies have found that regular exercise can increase your heart rate recovery, and that changes to your heart rate recovery can be used to monitor fatigue.
Scientists have also found that your heart rate recovery is a reliable predictor of mortality and heart disease. In one study, people with a low heart rate recovery—less than 13—were shown to have twice the risk of dying during the six year study. Many additional studies have confirmed the use of heart rate recovery as a predictor of heart health. However, heart rate recovery is just one of many factors when assessing your own health.
Heart Rate Recovery and Genetics
We know that genes play a role in many things to do with your heart, including blood pressure and resting heart rate. Your genes also play a role in how your heart responds to exercise. While researchers have found 10 genes linked to exercise and heart rate, a gene that researchers have been studying closely is CHRM2. A review study found that people who had a certain genetic variation in CHRM2 had a lower heart rate recovery.
However, genes can't tell the whole story when it comes to heart rate recovery. A study of people who did cardiac rehab found that exercise could improve very low heart rate recovery. And that those who did improve had no higher risk of mortality.
Interesting Facts About Heart Rate Recovery
While a heart rate recovery of 13 or more after one minute is considered normal, newer research has shown that heart rate recovery at much shorter times after exercise may be linked to mortality. In a study of more than 40,000 men and women, heart rate recovery after 10 seconds was a predictor of all-cause mortality as well as dying from coronary artery disease.
Research also shows that age may be a predictor in heart rate recovery. Average heart rate recovery tends to be relatively constant in people aged 30 to 59, but has been shown to decrease more rapidly as age increases.
Wondering if there is an easier way than manual counting to measure your heart rate recovery? Check your wearable devices! Fitness watches and other trackers will often measure your heart rate recovery. You should be able to find it if you open the app you use to track heart rate and look at your heart rate data.
Curious about the connection between your DNA and your heart rate recovery? An AncestryDNA® Traits test can tell you more.
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