(AscendHealthy.com) – Cardiovascular fitness is one of the cornerstones of good overall health. We can keep tabs on our blood pressure and control cholesterol levels, but many of us could be doing even more to stay on top of our heart health.
Resting heart rate is another valuable measurement, but it’s also one many of us tend to neglect. The information we may be missing out on could cause us to overlook warning signs about our future. Here’s what everyone should know about the importance of monitoring their resting heart rate.
Reading Into the Future
Heart rates fluctuate depending on activity levels, speeding up when we exert ourselves and slowing down when we’re at rest, explains Harvard Health. Our resting heart rate, or the number of heartbeats per minute while we’re at our least active, can tell us a lot about our overall health. The heart pumps at its slowest when we’re at rest — and the slower it pumps (without going too slow), the better the condition of the heart is generally.
Research has drawn a clear connection between high resting heart rates and increased risks of atherosclerosis, ischemic heart events, and issues with ventricular functioning. Experts believe that the more the heart has to work, on average, the higher the chances something vital will wear out. Previous recommendations have suggested the ideal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute, but more recent findings show the closer we can get to that lower threshold, the better.
Resting heart rate could also be a measure of future risks in other areas. A 22-year study that followed 18,787 men and 14,994 women between 18 and 74 years old showed higher average readings increased a person’s chances of dying from all major preventable causes. Faster resting heart rates may even raise cancer risks. With these and other findings in mind, taking measures to slow the resting heart rate, such as exercising regularly and controlling cholesterol levels, could literally change the course of a person’s future.
Measuring Your Resting Heart Rate
An accurate measurement only requires a timer capable of counting down seconds — a feature available on most smartphones nowadays for those of us who don’t wear watches. Wait until the body has been fully at rest for at least 2 hours to ensure the reading is correct; even undergoing a stressful event or walking around before taking a count can throw off a person’s numbers.
Using the first and second fingers of one hand, feel for a pulse on the upper part of the opposite wrist. The pulse is also present on either side of the neck, just below the jawbone. Set a timer for 15 seconds and count the number of beats during that duration. Multiply the count by four to calculate the rate.
Some monitors, such as those on fitness trackers, blood pressure monitors and oximeters, can also calculate heart rate. However, they may have a margin of error, so a manual count is currently the best way to go.
We can tell a lot about our future health by looking at current heart rate readings. Many of the connections are still poorly understood, but the numbers don’t lie. With a glimpse into our future so literally at our fingertips, don’t we owe it to ourselves to start checking?
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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