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How do I measure Resting Heart Rate?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

The resting pulse rate is best measured first thing in the morning when the person wakes naturally (i.e. no alarm clocks).  A resting pulse rate is obtained by counting the pulse for one minute, immediately upon awakening and before getting out of bed or doing anything.  The most convenient site to measure the pulse is the radial site on the inner aspect of the wrist.  Doing this for three consecutive days provides the best data.

At other times during the day a resting pulse rate can be obtained by having the person rest in a supine or reclining position, with their feet off the floor for 10 minutes and then measuring the pulse rate.

Mike Allard, NASM Elite Trainer
Fitness Specialist

There are two places where we typically measure resting heart rate:

Radial Pulse: The radial pulse is located on the inside of the wrist, right at the base of the thumb. Gently place two fingers on this location and feel for a pulse. Count the number beats in 15 seconds and then multiply that number by 4. This will give you your resting heart rate in beats per minute.

Carotid Pulse: The carotid pulse is located on the side of your neck just below your jaw. Place two fingers on this location and feel for a pulse. Again, count the number of beats in 15 seconds and multiply it by 4.

The preferred site to measure resting heart rate is at the radial location. The best time to take your resting heart rate is upon rising. Take your pulse at the same time for 3 days in a row and average them.

Resting heart rates vary but typically the average for females is 75bpm and for males it is 70bpm.

Resting heart rate (RHR) is measured by counting the beat of your pulse for one minute, in a rested state.  To get a true resting reading, measure your heart rate before getting out of bed in the morning, upon waking naturally (without a startling alarm clock).    It is best to measure RHR on three consecutive mornings and calculate the average.
Typically, sitting quietly for 5-10 minutes will suffice to get an estimate of RHR.  Additionally, a 30-second count of your heart rate, multiplied by two, or a 15-second count multiplied by four can be used to quickly estimate heart rate.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.