What Is a “Good” Heart Rate?

May 5, 2022 11:30 am Published by

In the past, most of us had no idea what our heart rate was. But these days, with fitness trackers and smartwatches galore, it’s easy to check your pulse with a glance at your wrist. So, what is a good heart rate?

The short answer is: It varies. A “good” heart rate for you will depend on several factors, including your overall health and activity level. Learn to measure your heart rate and what’s normal.

How to Measure

If you don’t have a smartwatch or similar device, how can you determine your heart rate? You can measure it the old-fashioned way! You can check your pulse, another name for heart rate, on either your wrist or the side of your neck.

If checking your heart rate on your wrist, place your index and middle fingers on one hand on your opposite wrist just beneath the thumb. Your fingers will go between the bone and the tendon over the radial artery.

If checking your heart rate on your neck, place your fingers on the side of your neck, just beneath the jawbone.

Once you begin to feel your pulse, count the number of beats in a 15-second span. Multiply that number by four to determine your beats per minute, which is your heart rate.

To get the most accurate reading, don’t measure your heart rate a couple hours after exercising or an hour after consuming caffeine. It’s best to measure your pulse when you’ve been doing normal daily activities.

You can also ask a nurse or doctor at your primary care provider’s office to teach you how to check your pulse.

What Your Heart Rate Tells You

If you checked your heart rate using the steps above, you’ve determined your resting heart rate. This is a measure of how efficiently your heart is pumping blood when you’re at rest.

Resting heart rate varies a good bit from person to person—and even in the same person at different times of day. A normal resting heart rate is usually between 60 and 100 beats per minute and can fluctuate due to activity, stress, hormones and medication use.

What’s considered a good heart rate? When it comes to your resting heart rate, the lower, the better. This means your heart is working efficiently.

You can also monitor how your heart is working during physical activity. To get to peak performance, you want to get your heart pumping faster. Many people aim for what’s known as the target heart rate, which represents a certain percentage of a person’s maximum heart rate.

Recommended maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age—for example, someone who is 20 has a recommended maximum heart rate of 200 bpm, while someone who is 50 has a recommended maximum heart rate of 170 bpm.

Once you’ve determined your maximum heart rate, you can aim to hit between 50 and 85% of that heart rate during your workouts. This is the target heart rate zone, when you’ll be exercising most efficiently and boosting your heart health.

In general, during moderate intensity physical activity, such as walking or jogging, you want to aim for 50 to 70% of your maximum heart rate. During strenuous activity, like running or playing tennis, you can aim for 70 to 85% of your maximum.

As you exercise consistently over time, you may find that you can maintain a higher heart rate for a longer period of time. This means your cardiovascular fitness has improved.


Could your heart use a checkup? The Magnolia Heart & Vascular Center offers advanced heart care right here in Alcorn County.

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This post was written by Magnolia Regional Health Center

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