The best time of day to check your resting heart rate is right in the morning after you’ve woken up, George Welch, M.D., cardiologist at Manhattan Cardiology, tells SELF. “During the day, changes in your activity level, body position, emotional state, caffeine intake, and hydration levels all will affect your HR.”
“The more you exercise and the harder you train, the lower your resting heart rate,” Welch says. That’s why resting heart rate is often cited as a good measure of how fit a person is.
“If HR spikes when you’re not active, it could be an indication of dehydration, overcaffeination, or that you’re developing a fever,” Dr. Welch says. “Throughout medical history, HR has been a very useful determinant of when something is going wrong.”
“Sometimes, people have issues with the conduction system of the heart. In particular for older people, when resting HR is below 50 we see that as a degenerative change in electrical conduction,” Dr. Welch says. “That’s uncommon for younger people, though.”
Dr. Welch says that trackers can give a patient good insight into their personal health and fitness levels, but that the findings should be “taken with a grain of salt.” He says, “It’s a useful tool, but probably once a week I see someone who’s overly obsessed with their biometric data, so on occasion I’ve had to suggest people take off their Fitbit and not wear it because it was really weighing heavily on them.”
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