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Heart Rates – How Low Can You Go?

Coast-to-Coast Triathlon

It wasn’t that long ago that I first got my hands on a heart rate monitor. I’ve never been sufficiently into the minutiae of fitness training (or dedicated enough?) to apply any kind of science to it, like using a heart rate monitor, but I do love a good competition. Particularly if it’s with myself.

As such, the first thing I did was find my minimum heart rate. Before I reveal the results, however, here are some instructions to find your own resting heart rate so that you can join the game (you don’t need a heart rate monitor)…

How to find your resting heart rate

  • Your heart rate tends to be at its lowest first thing in the morning, just after you wake up.
  • Even standing or just sitting up will make your heart work harder so stay lying down.
  • Find a pulse – wrist and neck are good places
  • Set a timer for 60 seconds and start counting the pulses. However high you count is your resting heart rate in beats per minute (bpm).

Heart Rate Monitors

You can get a more accurate reading for your heart beat with a heart rate monitor – there are loads of models on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

Resting Heart Rates

How did you score? You can check yourself against the table below taken from the great Wikipedia article on heart rates.

Men
Age: 18-25 26-35 36-45 46-55 56-65 65+
Athlete 49-55 49-54 50-56 50-57 51-56 50-55
Excellent 56-61 55-61 57-62 58-63 57-61 56-61
Good 62-65 62-65 63-66 64-67 62-67 62-65
Above Average 66-69 66-70 67-70 68-71 68-71 66-69
Average 70-73 71-74 71-75 72-76 72-75 70-73
Below Average 74-81 75-81 76-82 77-83 76-81 74-79
Poor 82+ 82+ 83+ 84+ 82+ 80+
Women
Age: 18-25 24-35 36-45 46-55 56-65 65+
Athlete 54-60 54-59 54-59 54-60 54-59 54-59
Excellent 61-65 60-64 60-64 61-65 60-64 60-64
Good 66-69 65-68 65-69 66-69 65-68 65-68
Above Average 70-73 69-72 70-73 70-73 69-73 69-72
Average 74-78 73-76 74-78 74-77 74-77 73-76
Below Average 79-84 77-82 79-84 78-83 78-83 77-84
Poor 85+ 83+ 85+ 84+ 84+ 84+

My ego was suitably inflated when I registered in the low 40s (checked with my monitor and manually!). That would make me even better than the ‘Athlete’ category above.

I duly informed my wife, Laura, that I was a “medical marvel” and a peer to Lance Armstrong (whose resting heart rate was reported at 32bpm) when she had a go herself and clocked 36bpm.

Are you interested in health and exercise?

Then you might like these…

The Minimum Resting Heart Rate Hall of Fame

What’s your resting heart rate? Add your name to the Hall of Fame. Particularly if you can score lower than 36 to knock Laura off her pedestal.

(N.B. Laura was at pains to emphasise that she is not some kind of superhuman, just “reasonably fit” after the Tube runs)

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About the Author

Tim Moss has supported over 100 expeditions across all seven continents. He has climbed new mountains, crossed a desert and is currently cycling around the world. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society London and a Guinness World Record Holder. He aims to encourage more people to live adventurously. Read more...

Comments (43)

  • James Borrell

    Great article Tim, I remember learning about resting heart rates in PE lessons at secondary school. Of course, being kids, everyone naturally assumed the higher the number the better!

    Reply
  • Samuel

    Whatever mine is 37bpm and I barely do any excercise… I am french which may help.

    Reply
  • Andrew

    Low resting heart rate is more influenced by genetics than fitness – as any book on heart rate-based training will be at pains to point out. I cycle 180+ miles a week and mine is still 64 BPM.

    Reply
  • Lawrence munro

    About 3-4 bpm I would imagine.

    Reply
  • Ryan

    Just did mine and its 30…

    Reply
  • Karim

    My resting heart rate was registered to be 25 bpm: Last year I was hospitalized for some examinations of heart. I was deep in sleep when I was waken up by a nurse around 3 O’clock in the moring. She asked me if I was OK. I asked the reason for her waking me up: She said that my heart rate was 25. The next day when the doctor who was heart specialist came to me and said that there is nothing wrong with my heart and I should not worry about my low heart rate as its rythem is stable. I am 44 years old. I am not an athlete, but I cycle to my work which is around 20 Km five days a week, but only around 8 to 9 moths a year depending on the weather. It off and on crosses my mind whether I should ask for a second opinion regarding such a low heart rate.

    Reply
  • Alexander of Australia

    My resting rate is 38bpm and long rest (10 minutes ) lying down is 32 bpm , aged 54. BP will vary but roughly 115/60.
    I have always run and or cycled but not at elite level. My longest regular bike ride is 2 hours on a Sunday in a hilly area averaging around 25km/ per hour. I have seen doctor and taken echo stress test and my heart will reach170bpm with only a little puff, at about 8/10 exertion. ECG is perfect. I agree Andrew above, its also about genetics and other influences rather than just fitness.
    Just on other influences – I have found that if I back off on eating Bananas and nuts, my RHR will go up a bit- so maybe my genetics could also be suspectible to Potassium. A recent blood test had K level of 5.8- which was slightly over lab reference range.
    Anyways, if you have a low Heart rate and you dont feel right, then see your doctor. Ask for an an ECG, consider an Echo to rule out anything structural with your heart and ask your doctor about blood tests for potassium, sodium and calcium ions and also ask about tests for full thyroid function.
    Doctors generally seem less concerned about low heart rates if the patient is otherwise healthy and hasn’t encountered events that might suggest fibrillation. Any episode of syncope (fainting) combined with a low heart rate should be treated very seriously and the person should seek urgent medical assessment.

    Reply
  • Holly

    I am very active and have a resting heart rate of 33 beats per minute

    Reply
  • Nicky

    My moving heart rate is 45 average. Resting is around 30 . Me really stressed is up to 80

    Reply
  • Jennette

    I’m 58, a few years ago my resting heart rate was around 62, I used to be very active but not so much since age 35. Now my resting rate is 42. Cardiologist says it’s ok, thyroid medication is optimal (had thyroid cancer). Even raised the amount of synthroid I took with no change over a 4 month period. I’m baffled.

    Reply
  • Kim

    Outside factors are definitely an influence. I’m not hugely fit but just lately I’ve noticed my heart rate being very slow. It measures at 46 bpm. My only conclusion is my body attempting to conserve energy as I have developed anorexia over the last couple of months. I guess you would count that as illness-related though.

    Reply
  • mark

    I’m normally around 50 but I’ve recently gone on a very low calorie, no carbs or starches or fats diet. My RHR dropped to 38. Must be my body reacting to the low food intake. Measured it tonight and it’s 35! Feel great!

    Reply
  • Doris

    I started running a year ago. In average, i ran 3 times a week and about 30km per week… My heart beat rate dropped from 85+ to currently 54.

    Reply
  • Sean

    I’m 40 and overweight. I’ve always had a low resting heart rate that averages in the low 40s. But my record is 38. Whenever I see a lower than normal resting heart rate, it worries me because I’m not particular active. The past 60 days I have been running every day and lifting weights every other day. I’ve lost 30 lbs, but still overweight. I don’t feel strange “until I see my low heart rate” then my anxiety kicks in and I think the world is raining down and I work myself up “into believing I feel funny.” It’s ironic that it only happens when I see my resting heart rate. The media has drilled into our heads that fat people shouldn’t have low heart rates. Yes I have gone to a cardiologist about a year ago and did stress test, echo, EKG, and 21 say holter monitor and they said it all came back as normal (other than high blood pressure, which is being treated — lowest dose possible I was put on last week). My cardiologist told me I won the heart lottery and I have good cardiovascular genetics. I don’t know if this is all good or bad. Lol

    Reply
    • Dakshina Moorthy

      Touch Wood. Even i’m fat(obese) if I may say about 228 lbs(102kg). Have a low heart rate 40bpm.
      I dont have any symptoms associated with low heart rate and at times feel very anxious about it.A couple of months ago went to hospital and had a few test done. Even the holter test was done for a day. Doctors say everything is fine. I’m confused. Still i started exercising and am eating a moderately healthy diet. Lost a few inches and pounds recently.

      Reply
      • thesby

        that’s very good!if you get athletic your heart rate and blood pressure will drop!

      • thesby

        another thing, i went to see the doctor about 4 weeks ago and was surprised how normal my blood pressure was!i eat almonds, bananas and pomegranates berries which improved my bp to normal!also, i do cardio and total gym every other day! that was the cause of my bp and heart rate getting more athletic!if your doctor says everything is ok just keep doing what you’re doing!

  • Ryan

    I considered contacting a cardiologist when I clocked at 35bpm when I woke this morning.

    Reply
  • Ashley

    My HR ranges in the low 40′s. often as low as 33 BPM. BP around 85/55. Dr . considerers this normal for a 50 yr male trained cyclist. Bit if concern on BP though

    Reply
  • Sam

    I do not excercise and I smoke 20 fags a day and have done for 30 years. I am a 45 year old woman weigh only 50kg am 5ft 2 and my resting pulse is only 38bpm. I am well pleased with that. Thought it was gonna be well high. Must admit though once when I was having my pulse taken in hospital the nurse asked if I was ok I said yes why? She said according to your pulse your asleep lol

    Reply
  • thesby

    my age is over 50! i have used total gym for over a year and my resting heart rate has improved to 56bpm.i also do cardio exercises, eat veggies and pomergrate berries! just exercise and eat healthy and your heart will be in great shape and have better bpm’s

    Reply
  • Michal

    My RHR is around 38-40bpm and im 29yo. When I was young, i ve played basketball really active, 7 trainings per day for 7 yrs. Than I ve played handball for 4yrs and sometimes triathlon and running. I think, if you re active, the best is running, your RHR is coming down bcs your lung capacity coming up and your hearth dont need so much “compressions”. Just my theory :)

    Reply
  • Mark Joyce

    One for your Hall of Fame – Steve Ovett, GB middle-distance runner, Oympic gold medalist & WR holder had a resting pulse of 28bpm in his prime (25 yrs. old). And clean too, unlike some professional cyclists.

    Reply
  • Nick davis

    I was hospitalized with a stroke then around 1am a nurse woke me up and asked if I was ok cause I set the monitors off in the hospital then they rushed all kinds of people in my room my heart rate was 18 bpm which was extremely low stayed in for further observations they told me to take 325 mg of aspirin per day.

    Reply
  • salman teymouri

    im salman teymouri triathlete national team of iran and My resting heart rate is 32 per minute. i love triathlon…

    Reply
  • Kevin

    Us humans arise from millions of genetic combinations and this low heart resting rate is nothing to get stressed about at all. Whatever your natural norm is exercise will lower it and tension will raise it. The body is a brilliant piece of engineering and has many sensors that trigger applications to stabilise us. I am fat but am the fittest fat guy in town maybe as I run up 3 hills every 3rd day and walk miles twice a day in between. Thats good enough to sustain wellbeing for years to come.

    Once you determine your own norm from 25 to 70 resting 1st thing in the morning then it is useful to note if one morning the rate increases by 5+ that suggests you might be for example heading for the flu so don’t exert yourself and you;ll beat off that flu quickly. Trust your instinct.

    Reply
  • rudy barton

    My heart rate is. 65 . I have not. Exercised in 1 year

    Reply
  • Terry

    I am 67 years of age, run three or four times per week and have a pulse rate of 33
    I thought this was too low but reading your article and comments by your readers has put my mind at ease

    Reply
  • Mervyn Abrahams

    Hi there, I consider myself to be a male athete 63 years of age, run 50-90 km per week and my resting heartrate dips below 35 bpm.

    I suffered from nearly passing out on occasions and still suffer heart palpitations at rest. My GP arranged a 24 hour ECG monitor test, a full blood test, which was followed by an echocardiogram and follow up visit to a cardiologist. The conclusion after a final ECG was that there is nothing wrong with me!!
    I was told that I was very fit, but that I needed to listen to my body. (A polite way of telling me I needed to slow down.)
    The problem is running (exercise) related. When I stopped running for a few weeks the symptoms disappeared and my heartrate climbed back to a respectable 47 bpm. I do not wish to give up running. But I will need to slow down…a bit!!!

    Reply
  • rochelle

    My resting hr was caught on a holter monitor at 34bpm. I am far from being fit… I am hoping to become fit in the next while and will see if I get a lower yet result.

    Reply
  • Steve

    What’s so impressive about 44 bpm? I got 44 after a whole 6 mth cardio layoff. But ur bike-around-the-world for diabetes is impressive. You can write a book about the experience.

    Reply
  • Boris Lorinyenko

    I have a resting heart rate of 43 bpm. Boris Lorinyenko

    Reply
  • LAURIE

    What’s the big deal ??
    I am 55 overweight and unfit and my RHR is between 33 and 35 BPM
    Means nothing I think!!

    Reply
  • Nordlys

    I believed to be a healthy women, but today I discovered my heart rate is 100.
    And it doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t match my breath rating and I have high stamina.

    Reply
  • aaron odonnell

    Hi, I don’t consider myself to be a fitness fanatic but I do HIIT training at home 3 times per week and I have noticed when I am sat at my desk at work my RHR is around 46 BPM sometimes it can go as low as 41 BPM. The irony is that I am a smoker and slightly over weight so this should reflected by a higher RHR not a lower one.

    Reply
  • Rodney Wilms

    I work outside as an oilfield roust about have for many years. I weigh around 290lbs. I’m 6’6″ and my resting heart rate ranges from 36-42 when up and active it’s any were from 70-126. I work hard and sweat alot in the heat. Not dizzy or fuzzy oxygen is 97-99. Now that I’ve stopped smoking. Just hope this is a good thing. Not to active outside work 6 days a week. Good or bad??

    Reply
  • Manisha

    I am 21 years old female with normal Bp but a heart rate of 32, not sure why, I’m not an athlete and I do feel dizzy and black out quite often. Any ideas why?

    Reply
    • Tim Moss

      I don’t know why that would be Manisha but if you’re feeling dizzy and blacking out then I would have thought that you should visit your doctor.

      Reply
      • thesby

        32 b.p.m. is that sitting down or standing up. i visted my doctor 3 weeks ago and mine was 70 b.p.m. while sitting and it goes to 86 while walking. i do exercise 4 times a week to matain my heart rate.if your heart rate is 32 b.p.m. and you do not exercise nor eat healthy it wouldn’t hurt to see a doctor or physican.

    • thesby

      32 b.p.m. is that sitting, lying down, sleeping or standing?your heart beats that low and you don’t exercise. if it’s lying down your heart is just resting itself and your young age could be a factor. i just visited my doctor 3 weeks ago and mine was 60 b.p.m. while resting and 80 while standing. i do exercise 4 times a week to matain my heart health. check your pulse before you go to sleep and make sure that you’re reading it right. the method should be number of beats in 30 seconds times 2. also, it wouldn’t hurt to see a doctor or physican.

      Reply
  • Caryn Duncan

    My resting rate is between 36-43. I am a 38 year old female, who had an ABI in 2003. Very fit as a youth and still jog almost everyday, but not far. I hope it’s healthy range, but have had it commented upon when coming out of anethesia.

    Reply

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