There are many ways to measure your strength and stamina, allowing you to track gains in your exercise routine. However, perhaps the most important measurement of all is the performance of just one muscle: Your heart. According to longstanding research from the Journal of the American Medical Association, resting heart rate recovery (HRR) is a reliable measure of an individual’s risk of life-threatening heart disease. Fortunately, it’s easy to measure and track this figure yourself, so you’ll know when to bring it to the attention of your doctor.

How do you measure heart rate recovery?

Your heart rate recovery is simply a measurement of how long it takes your heart to return to a normal resting heart rate after strenuous exercise. In general, the faster your heart is back to a resting rate, the healthier your heart is. To measure your heart rate recovery, take your resting heart rate before beginning exercise. Then, perform moderate to strenuous activity for about 2 minutes—you might jump rope, run on a treadmill, or run up and down the stairs. If you are not used to strenuous activity, try a brisk walk around the block instead. Then, measure your heart rate immediately after you exercise. Continue to measure your heart rate every two minutes until it is back to normal.

What should your number be? 

Everyone’s normal resting heart rate and recovery rate will vary depending on their individual lifestyles. For example, a professional athlete will have a higher resting heart rate than the average person. However, when considering heart rate recovery, you want to look for a reduction of 15-25 beats per minute in the first two minutes after exercise. If your result is less than this, then you should talk to your doctor about how you can better your heart health.

MeMD makes it easier to get the healthcare you need exactly when you need it. Our physicians are available around the clock, so all you need is an internet connection to talk to a doctor right away.

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