Resting Heart Rate and Heart Rate Recovery

This month, we will highlight resting heart rate and heart rate recovery.

One of the cardiovascular adaptations to long-term aerobic training is a decreased resting heart rate (RHR).  Our RHR decreases as a result of the increased efficiency of our cardiorespiratory system and increased activity of our parasympathetic nervous system (the portion of the autonomic nervous system responsible for stimulating rest).

Typically, changes in RHR will present in as little as four to eight weeks of regular aerobic training.  Average RHR is normally between 60 to 100 beats per minute for adults, and as low as 40 to 60 beats per minute for very fit individuals.  You can monitor your RHR using the MYZONE system by putting your belt on right away when you wake up in the morning.  Stay resting in bed for five to ten minutes once your belt has activated (one beep).  Your RHR will automatically record in your profile once you have uploaded the data, and will automatically update if your RHR decreases.  We encourage you to check in with your RHR every four to eight weeks, or whenever you are making progressive changes to the volume or intensity of your training. 

You can use RHR to prevent overtraining.  If you notice that you are not performing optimally during your workouts or feel that your heart rate is not responding as well as usual, monitor your RHR over the course of the week.  If you notice a consistently elevated RHR (more than two mornings in a row at greater than 5 beats per minute higher than usual), you may be overtraining.  An elevated RHR could also be an indicator of illness or other issues, so be sure to consult your physician if you have other signs or symptoms.

Resting heart rate is different than heart rate recovery.  We can monitor heart rate recovery during and immediately following our training sessions using the MYZONE system.  As stated in one of our previous communications, recovery is a key component to a well-balanced and sustainable fitness routine.  Recovery during your workout takes place in between work phases if you are performing tempo or interval training or at the end of your workout in the form of a cool down.  A thorough cool down allows your heart rate to come down gradually. 

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