The US National Institutes of Health has published a list of normal resting heart rates. The pulse gets progressively slower through childhood toward adolescence.
The normal resting heart rate for adults, including older-aged adults and everyone over the age of 10 years, is between 60 and 100 heartbeats a minute.
Athletes who have done a lot of training may see their resting heart rate fall below 60 beats a minute, possibly to as low as 40 beats a minute.
The following list shows how heart rate (in beats a minute) gradually slows down through young childhood:
- First month of life -> 70 - 190
- Between 1 and 11 months -> 80 - 160
- One- and two-year-olds -> 80 - 130
- Three- and four-year-olds -> 80 - 120
- Five- and six-year-olds -> 75 - 115
- Between seven and nine years -> 70 - 110
- From 10 years of age -> 60 - 100
The normal heart rate undergoes healthy variation, going up in response to some conditions, including exercise, body temperature, body position (such as for a short while after standing up quickly), and emotion (such as anxiety and arousal).
Abnormal heart rates have medical names (the values given are typical, but being above or below the figure may be normal and harmless for some):
- Tachycardia means the heart is beating too fast at rest (usually over 100 beats a minute)
- Bradycardia is a heart rate that is too slow (usually below 60 beats a minute).
How to measure your pulse and heart rate?
Arteries run closely under the skin at the wrist and neck, making the pulse palpable at these points.
Here is a reminder of how to check the pulse and heart rate:
- Simply put two fingers on the wrist and press gently until you can feel the pulse.
- Count the number of beats you feel over the course of a minute by doubling the number you have felt as the clock ticks through to thirty seconds.
The easiest way to monitor your heart rate is to take your pulse at the wrist.
You should use your first two fingers (index and middle finger) while holding out the underside of your wrist upward - find the pulse on the side that is in line with the base of the thumb.
You can also find the pulse on the neck, by placing two fingers in the same way, gently pressing into the soft groove either side of the windpipe (trachea).
Less easy places to feel the pulse where an artery runs close to the skin are:
- Behind the knees
- In the groin
- At the temple on the side of the head
- On top or the inner side of the foot.