Resting heart rate is how many times your heart is beating per minute while lying still. The best time to find your resting heart rate is first thing in the morning before getting up and going about your day. It’s the point where your body is most rested after a night of sleep.
The method of taking your resting heart rate is after waking up then using the bathroom to empty your bladder, lay back down for a few minutes. With two fingers at the side of the neck, find your carotid artery, just under the side of your jaw, slide down your jaw line from your earlobe, press gently to feel your pulse. Don’t reach your hand across your throat, but same hand on the same side of the neck. Using a watch or timer, count each little pulse starting with “1” for one minute. Be sure to feel your body settle in after getting up. If you are not sure, take your pulse again for another minute. Be certain as you lie there that you are very comfortable, loose, and relaxed. Take a few breathes to help you “melt” into the bed or couch before taking your pulse. The more relaxed you are the more accurate the reading. Make sure your clothes aren’t bunched up under you, or that you are twisted or tilted. Be very still. Tune into your breath as you soften, settle in, quiet and slow. Do this for a week to get your average heart rate for a most accurate reading and to find your base. Then spot check it each month to see how you are doing.
What you can learn from this heart rate is any changes in it over time may give you biofeedback on what’s happening. If you have embarked on a fitness/training plan then you will see changes in your resting heart rate over time as your fitness improves. Your resting heart rate will get lower as you become more fit.
However, if your resting heart rate gets higher can also be a sign about how your body is managing stress or all that is happening. If there is an increase in resting heart rate, you can ask yourself what may be the culprit. Here is a list of what can elevate your resting heart rate:
over training, working at too high a heart rate to frequently, drinking alcohol, dehydration, loss of electrolytes, consuming caffeine, emotional stress with work- family-training-commitments-an upcoming race, not enough sleep, poor quality sleep, poor nutrition, inadequate recovery food, injury, and muscle strain, to name a few.
Knowing your resting heart rate can offer invaluable feedback. Just inquiring about what may be causing an elevation can bring you closer to your own body by creating more awareness of it. There are several factors that can cause stress and therefore elevate your resting heart rate which can then offer you insight as to how to adjust your training to match or balance with your life. What’s needed typically is time, and stress management. Know your average resting heart rate and check it frequently within the month to use it as a guide for your training and living to find that balance between when to push and when to pull back. Know your body, listen to it, and give yourself permission to adjust your life. Your body and mind will be grateful!