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How fit you are can be judged by your heart rate during exercise and rest…

Resting heart rate or bradycardia refers to the number of times the heart beats per minute, when you are at rest. Normal range is 50 to 100, most people’s hearts beat 60 to 80 times a minute. Above 100 is considered a rapid pulse, called tachycardia. resting heart rate varies from person to person and over the course of the day, due to genetics and other factors. Heart rate is faster when you get excited, anxious, or angry or if you are in pain or fever. It rises temporarily if you smoke or drink a lot of alcohol or coffee. On the other hand, resting heart rate slows during sleep and tends to be lower if you are very fit.

In general, a slower heart rate is better than a faster one as faster rate puts more pressure and stress on your heart and blood vessels. In fact, studies have shown faster resting heart rates increases risk of heart disease and death from all causes, independent of fitness levels and other cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and being overweight.

A higher heart rate is linked to poorer outcomes in both healthy people and those with heart disease. Resting heart rate may be an even better predictor of premature death than cholesterol and blood pressure. Reducing heart rate is an accepted treatment goal for people with certain heart conditions, but it may also benefit people with hypertension and, preliminary research suggests may be even healthy people.

Heart rate during aerobic exercise raises your heart rate for at least 20 minutes. This enhances aerobic capacity – that is, the ability of your cardiovascular system to deliver oxygen to the body’s cells during exercise.
How long it takes to reach your target heart rate largely depends on how conditioned you are. If you are in poor shape, your heart rate will go up quickly with exercise. If you are in good shape, it will take longer. If your heart rate is naturally low, one has to overwork to get into the standard target zone; if your heart rate is high to start with, you may get into the zone too easily.

the length of time it takes for heart rate to return to normal is a good measure of fitness. The more fit you are, the faster the recovery. Heart rate drops most sharply in the first minute after you stop exercising, it should then fall about 20 beats a minute – a drop of less than 12 beats a minute is considered abnormal. This recovery heart rate is measured as part of an exercise stress test.

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