What is a normal heart rate and how do I check it?

Normal heart rate and taking your pulse
on Tue 4 Jun


What is a normal heart rate and how do I check it?

If we’re healthy we give scant consideration to our hearts and are usually unaware of its rhythm.  Our heart rate is expressed as bpm or beats per minute and this varies from person to person so a normal resting heart beat rate when you’re healthy and relaxed is between 60 and 100 bpm.


A resting heart rate indicates that your heart is pumping the lowest amount of blood your body needs because you’re not exercising. The more fit you are the lower your resting heart rate will be.


If your heart is beating in excess of the normal resting rate you are said to have “tachycardia” (fast heart) if it is beating less,  you are said to have “bradycardia” (slow heart)


Although these extremes are sometimes caused by heart disease the rates can be faster or slower than usual in healthy people for a number of reasons:


  • A high pulse rate may be caused by rigorous exercise, nervousness, excitement, having used a stimulant like caffeine or whilst pregnant.
  • A low pulse rate may be caused by being fit or being asleep 


How do I measure my heart rate?

A simple pulse check can do this. It takes less than a minute and it is vital to do this regularly, especially as we age. Of course,  you may use gym equipment or a personal heart monitor when you exercise and a display will advise you of your heart rate, but if not you can feel your pulse at the wrist or your neck.


Make sure you’re seated, rested and relaxed when you start.


To measure your pulse at the wrist place your middle and index fingers of one hand about one inch below the thumb of your other hand


To measure your neck pulse press your fingers gently to one side of your neck just below the jawline.  If you can’t immediately feel your pulsemove your fingers around slightly to find a better position.


Count your heart beats for 15 seconds.  Multiplying this by 4 will give you a one minute reading.


What if my heart beat is irregular?

An irregular heartbeat is called an “arrhythmia” and the odd one or two is not uncommon even when you’re healthy. In fact most people have at least one premature ventricular contraction (PVC) every day and don’t notice it.  A PVC occurs when the second beat is stronger and comes early.  This can be caused by something as simple as caffeine, stress or alcohol.


Irregular heartbeats can be temporary or permanent but if you feel a persistent irregular heartbeat you should promptly speak to your doctor. Don’t ignore this as, according to the heart rhythm alliance,  arrhythmias cause up to 100,000 sudden cardiac deaths each year.


Exercise and your healthy heart

Your heart is a muscle and needs exercising like all other muscles. If you’ld like to reduce the risk of a heart condition by getting more active you should aim to spend 150 minutes a week when your target heart rate (THR) is between 50% and 70% of your maximum heart rate. 


To help you work this out the British Heart Foundation has an easy to use calculator just here


If this blog post has raised concerns please get in touch with your doctor. If you are in or near London we are one of the few UK practices which has a Cardio Health Station that provides a non-invasive ultrasound scan as part of our heart risk assessment service. Please get in touch if you’d like to find out more.


We make every effort to ensure that all health advice on this website is accurate and up to date. However it is for information purposes and should not replace a visit to your doctor or health care professional. As the advice is general in nature rather than specific to individuals we cannot accept any liability for actions arising from its use nor can we be held responsible for the content of any pages referenced by an external link.



About Stephanie Acne Age-related Macular Degeneration AIDS alcohol units and effects allergies Andropause angina anorexia Anti Ageing Anxiety arrhythmia arthritis asthma atrial fibrillation back pain basic metabolic rate BHRT bio-identical hormones Biog Bloating blood pressure BMR bone density Book review bowel cancer brain fog brain tumour Bronchitis bulimia Bursitis calcium Cancer cancer signs and symptoms carpal tunnel syndromw cervical cancer Cervical smear Charles Bonnet Syndrome check your pulse cholesterol chronic fatigue syndrome coeliac disease cold virus contraception COPD coronary thrombosis coronavirus covid-19 Deep vein thrombosis dehydration signs Delaying menopause Dementia Depression dermatitis Diabetes Digestive problems digital health Donor advice DVT dyspareunia Ear infections Early menopause eating disorders eczema endometriosis exercise fertility fibroids fitness flu gallstones Gardisil Genetic testing government health policy hair loss hayfever Health Awareness Day Health Awareness Month Health Awareness week health warning healthy eating heart attack heart attacks Heart Disease Helpful supplements Hepatitis High blood pressure HIV Hives Hormone Replacement Therapy hormones hot flushes HPV HRT HRT & breast cancer HRT in the news HRT risks hydration benefits Hypertension IBS immune system itching Itchy Skin joint pain kidney function Laryngitis Leukaemia libido lichen sclerosus lifestyle liver Liver Disease Long Covid Symptoms lowered immmunity Lung cancer Lupus LUTS Macular Degeneration Magnesium# Male Menopause Managing Anxiety Managing Stress ME/CFS Men's health Meningitis Menoapuse advice for partners menopause menopause and dental health Menopause Specialist menopause symptoms Menopause Weight Gain menpause Menstrual Cycle Menstruation Menstruation and Athletes mental health Mental health support metabolism microbiome Migraine Migraines Motivation technique mouth cancer night sweats Norovirus oestrogen osteoarthritis Osteoporosis Paget's disease painful sex palpitations Pancreatic Cancer Parkinson's Parkinsons pelvic pain Perimenopause perimenopause and breast pain Pneumonia POI post menopause vocal syndrome Premature Ovarian Insufficiency Probiotics Prolapse prostate prostate cancer Pruritis Psoriasis Psychosexual medicine reflux rheumatoid arthritis Rosacea sarcoma self harming sex sex and disability sexual health Shingles Sinusitis skin cancer Skin health sleep Statins Staying positive STI's Strep A Strep throat stroke Takayasu Arteritis talks and presentations TB testosterone Tinnitus trying to lose weight tuberculosis Type 2 Diabetes underactive thyroid Urinary Infections Urinary Tract Infection Using a private GP UTI's vaginal dryness Vascular awareness month vegan diets Vitamin D Vulval itching Winter Vomiting Bug women's health World Health Day

Email enquiry form

How To Find Us

25 Harley Street, London W1G 9QW

Newsletter Signup

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.


We use MailChimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to MailChimp for processing. Learn more about MailChimp's privacy practices here.