Normal heart rate according to age and how to calculate it

The normal heart rate for an adult can be 60 to 100 beats per minute at rest. However, it can vary due to various factors.

Last update: November 26, 2021

Normal heart rate can be defined as the number of times the heart beats per minute. To know it we can use a device (heart rate monitor) or take the pulse manually, on the wrist or neck.

This measurement must be made at rest and while active to establish the minimum and maximum. Knowing this information is very important from the point of view of general health and for sports performance, since we could be exercising improperly.

However, it should be noted that the normal heart rate can vary from one person to the other. Likewise, factors such as age, sex or weight, as well as physical activity, affect the beats per minute.

Normal heart rate according to age

The concept of heart rate or pulse expresses the relationship between the number of beats and a given period of time, which is usually 1 minute. This is an important indicator of the activity of the heart.

In particular, the normal heart rate refers to what is expected according to the age group to which we belong. It is a measure that should be taken as a reference, since there may be a variety of factors, circumstantial or inherent to the person, that alter the rhythm.

In some, the pulse may be a little faster; in others, slower. Normal values ​​for beats per minute at rest are as follows:

  • Newborns, up to the first month: from 70 to 190.
  • Babies, up to the first year: from 80 to 160.
  • Children 1 to 2 years: 80 to 130.
  • Between 3 and 4 years: 80 to 120.
  • Between 5 and 6 years: 75 to 115.
  • Between 7 and 9 years: 70 to 110.
  • Older than 10 years: 60 to 100.
  • Adults: 60 to 100.

The pulsations tend to diminish as we get older.

What factors alter the normal heart rate?

When we move, the heart begins to beat faster. Walking briskly, we will be between 80 to 120 beats per minute. Even the mere act of eating already causes us to get to 70-100 beats per minute.

Of course, there is a noticeable increase in heart rate during sport. And it is that, when performing physical activity, the demand for energy and the heart has to work harder.

In this sense, depending on the level of intensity, the heartbeat accelerates, and can reach up to 120-160. High-performance athletes hit 180-200 beats per minute. However, at rest they are below 60.

On the other hand, there are various factors that affect or affect the normal heart rate, causing it to speed up or slow down. They are as follows:

  • Age: As we get older, not only do we slow down when we walk, but our heart also beats more slowly.
  • Room temperature: if the temperature rises, the heart works harder.
  • Emotions: stress, anxiety, fear, joy, love can accelerate the heartbeat.
  • Overweight: in obese people the number of beats per minute may be higher than normal.
  • Medicines: beta blockers slow down the pulse, while amphetamine derivatives speed it up.
  • Heart ailments and conditions: bradycardia, tachycardia and other arrhythmias.
The heart will beat at a different frequency according to the demands of the environment and even considering the climate.

How to calculate heart rate?

The parts of the body where we can most easily feel the pulsations are the back of the wrists and on one side of the neck (just below where the lower jaw ends). The recommendation is that, if you are going to measure the pulse at the wrist, gently place the middle and index fingers of the opposite hand, without pressing. The thumb should not be used.

Then, observing a clock, he counts the number of beats or beats for 60 seconds. Some people prefer to count for 15 seconds and then multiply by 4. Others prefer to use a portable device, called pulsometer.

The ideal is to do the measurements when we are lying down or sitting, totally calm. By the standards we’ve already seen, your normal resting heart rate should be between 60 and 100 per minute.

Of course, you can and should also know your heart rate during physical activity. The procedure to do it is the same, with the difference that the moment would be during or just after finishing an exercise.

Maximum heart rate

The measurements previously obtained must be compared with the maximum heart rate. This is also a standard. As its name implies, indicates the largest number of beats the stressed heart could reach in a minute.

There are several formulas that determine this measure. The most common and simple is to subtract the person’s age from 226 (if he is a woman) or 220 (if he is a man). Thus, the maximum heart rate of a 50-year-old woman would be 176 beats per minute, for example.

There are also other forms, such as the Karvonen formula, which are considered more accurate. It seeks to determine the optimal heart rate to achieve during exercise. For this, other variables are included in the calculations, such as the heart rate at rest when waking up.

Now, the purpose of these calculations is that, once the maximum heart rate is determined, it is known at what level you are exercising, without incurring excesses. Agree with this, we have to control the rhythm without overdoing ourselves. If we want to work at moderate intensity, we must be at 50-70% of the maximum frequency. But if the goal is to increase endurance or aerobic capacity, we can reach 70-85%.

Why is it important to know the heart rate?

There are two main reasons why we must be attentive to the heart rate. The first is to rule out possible diseases. In fact, this is why the doctor listens to us.

However, although the heart rate is a reference that helps to detect pathologies, not all diseases are associated with irregular heartbeats, nor are all irregular heartbeats signs of disease.

Moreover, the heart rate allows to know how is our physical condition and if we are working on an adequate level of training. The latter would help to adjust the plan and assess progress.

For these purposes, we must periodically measure the pulse during training. If we are very accelerated or if after a session it takes a long time to bring the heart rate back to normal, we are doing something wrong.

Knowing the heart rate is important to detect pathologies and to adapt the training rhythm.

When to go to the doctor?

An alteration in the normal heart rate can be temporary or temporary. But if it becomes recurrent, it is a sign that we should not ignore.

On the other hand, when doing sports it is not strange that we feel accelerated and with a high rhythm. What would be unusual would be for this to go on for a long time.

Episodes of fast or slow heartbeat, without cause or apparent reason, or accompanied by weakness or dizziness, should be reported to the doctor immediately to rule out that it is an emergency. Remember that your pulse is a health tool that is in your hands, in the literal sense and in the figurative sense.

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