Health Advice



Know your numbers: What is your heart rate?

Mayo Clinic News Network, Mayo Clinic News Network on

Published in Health & Fitness

Your heart rate, or pulse, is the number of times your heart beats per minute. Your resting heart rate is when the heart is pumping the lowest amount of blood you need because you're not exercising.

If you're sitting or lying down ― and you're calm, relaxed and aren't sick ― your heart rate is typically between 60 and 100 beats per minute.

Other factors that can affect your heart rate include:

• Air temperature. When temperatures or humidity increases, the heart pumps more blood, so your pulse or heart rate may increase.

• Body position. Sometimes, when going from sitting to standing, your pulse may go up a little. After a few minutes, it should return to a typical rate.

• Emotions. If you're stressed, anxious or incredibly happy, your emotions can raise your heart rate.


• Body size. Body size usually does not increase your heart rate. However, if you're obese, you may have a higher resting heart rate.

• Medication use. Medications that block adrenaline tend to slow your heart rate. Thyroid medication may raise it.

Why your heart rate matters

Cardiovascular exercise, also called cardio or aerobic exercise, keeps you and your heart healthy. This specific type of exercise gets your heart rate up and your heart beating faster for several minutes. Cardiovascular exercise helps strengthen your heart, allowing it to pump blood more efficiently and improving blood flow to all parts of your body. It also boosts your high-density lipoprotein (or HDL), or "good" cholesterol, and lowers your low-density lipoprotein (or LDL), or "bad" cholesterol. This may result in less buildup of plaque in your arteries.


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