Do you have the heart of an elite athlete or a Model T in need of some major servicing? Calculate your heart rate fitness and find out!
You And Your Resting Heart Rate
To find out how fit your heart is, we have to check the rate at which your heart beats when it’s not stressed – the “resting heart rate.”
Now how do we do that? If you have some form of heart rate monitor you already get your heart rate served up on a neat little display. For everyone else here are instructions on how to calculate your heart rate without equipment:
- Turn the palm side of either of your hands up.
- Put the index and middle fingers of your other hand on the first hand’s wrist, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) below the point where forearm and hand meet. Do not use the thumb for measuring, because it has a pulse of its own!
- Use these two fingers to slightly press on the grove between your middle tendons and the outside bone. If you now feel a throbbing, you are in the right spot.
- If you can’t feel anything anywhere, no worries, you aren’t dead. Use the same two fingers and place them on a spot about half an inch (1 cm) below your chin and to the left or right of your windpipe.
- Have a watch at hand that shows seconds and count the number of throbbings you feel for 15 seconds, then multiply this number by 4.
- There it is, your heart rate.
No matter if you do it by hand or get the number from a gadget: we want resting heart rate, so don’t measure right after you ran up four flights of stairs or vacuumed your 40 bedroom villa. Ideally you do it in the morning, right after waking up and before even getting out of bed. It’s open your eyes, remembering where / who / what you are and measure.
How Fit Is Your Heart?
Ok, how does your heart rate fitness stack up? Find your age group in one of the below tables, then go down the column and check for the location of your resting heart rate. We have two tables, because men in general have a larger lung and heart capacity, so their hearts pump more blood with each beat:
Bodybuilders And Pilates Freaks, Take Note!
Some of my male friends think cardio is for wussies and if you do it at all it’s for five minutes after benching three times your body weight. Some of my female friends believe that 45 minutes of easy peasy pilates twice a week is the Mount Everest of fitness effort. They unite in the happy belief that they do enough for heart health. But the numbers don’t lie: if your heart rate is too high, then you either need to get your heart checked by a pro or what you do doesn’t cut it for your heart.
On the other hand, if you aren’t into fitness and have a low heart rate, don’t congratulate yourself. Abnormally high and low heart rates can both be a sign of illness in unfit people.
Picture courtesy of Juhan Sonin.