Every second of every day, your heart is actively pumping blood throughout your body.  This blood transfers the chemical energy your cells need to keep going, and so your heart won’t stop until you reach the end of your life.  However, the rate your heart pumps at can be very different depending on factors like your energy level, how much you exercise, and your general health level.   A strong heartbeat is good, but a fast resting heart rate can indicate danger.

What Your Heart Rate Is

Your heart beats at different speeds throughout the day.  When you become excited or go for a job your heart will speed up since your muscles may need more energy.  When you go to sleep you don’t move much and so your heart will slow down to conserve its own energy.  When you’re sitting down and not doing anything exciting, your heart rate is at something called the resting heart rate.  Doctors use this as a measure of your health and physical fitness, because a weaker heart will beat faster even when you aren’t working hard.

Why It Matters

A weak heart is more likely to suffer from a heart attack or other heart diseases.  A strong heart doesn’t have to pump hard all the time because a relatively weak pump can push more blood through your body.  That’s why a strong heartbeat is a slow one.  A heart that has to beat fast all the time can wind up wearing out faster, and a worn-out heart is a vulnerable heart.

How To Check Your Heart Rate

Most people can check their pulse by pressing on the right point on the inside of their wrist or the front of their neck.  Once you find your pulse, you can figure out your heart rate by timing the number of beats you feel in 10 seconds and multiplying by 6.  You could also use a heart rate monitor like a Fitbit or a blood pressure tester.  Various things like your emotions and your medication can change your heart rate, but you can usually find your resting heart rate when you’re calm and you’ve been sitting for around 5-10 minutes.

How To Lower It

What you’d call a healthy heart rate depends on a few factors like your age and sex, but the way you lower it is the same no matter what.  According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the best way to lower your heart rate to safe levels is by getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.  “Moderate” means around 75 percent of your max heart rate, and “vigorous” means up to 95 percent.  You can find charts that show what that rate is based on your age online.

Your resting heart rate is an important indicator of your health.  After all, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and is responsible for nearly a quarter of all deaths.  Checking your heart rate is a good way to test your health at home, and there’s always something you can do to improve it.