Your heart rate after exercising is important because it measures your physical fitness and can indicate whether you’re exercising appropriately. Exercise expert Dr. Kenneth Cooper recommends exercising more strenuously if your heart rate is too low and less strenuously if it’s too high. Your heart rate one minute after exercising is particularly important because a heart rate that declines fewer than 12 beats per minute during that minute is a “powerful and independent predictor of the risk of death,” according to “The New England Journal of Medicine.”
Exercise Heart Rates
Fit hearts recover quickly from exercise, so knowing what a good exercise heart rate for you is the first step. You get the most cardiovascular benefit from exercise when your heart rate is 60 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate, according to the health textbook “An Invitation to Health.” Your maximum heart rate is 220 heartbeats per minute minus your age. If you’re 30 years old, a good exercise heart rate for you is 114 to 162 heartbeats per minute. What constitutes a good exercise heart rate will gradually decline as you enter your 40s and beyond.
Dangerous Heart Rates
You should measure your pulse immediately after you finish your exercise and measure it again one minute later. Consult a doctor if your heart rate declined fewer than 12 heartbeats per minute during that one minute because a slow recovery heart rate might be an indication that you have a bad heart. A Cleveland Clinic Foundation study concluded that people whose heart rates declined fewer than 12 heartbeats per minute in the first minute after a workout were about four times more likely to die within six years than other people. The study, which was published in “The New England Journal of Medicine” in 1999, reported that the median heart rate one minute after exercise was 17 heartbeats per minute fewer than the exercise heart rate.
You have a good post-exercise heart rate if your recovery rate number, which measures your fitness, is between three and four, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s “Exercise Exercise Exercise” report. Your recovery rate number is your exercise heart rate minus your recovery heart rate one minute after exercise divided by 10. If you have an exercise heart rate of 130 heartbeats per minute and a recovery heart rate of 100 heartbeats per minute, your recovery rate number is three. Your post-exercise heart rate becomes excellent when your recovery rate number is at least four. This occurs when your recovery heart rate falls to 90 heartbeats per minute.
Post-Exercise Heart Rates
You should exercise strenuously enough to have a good exercise heart rate and recover well enough to have a good post-exercise heart rate. People who are 30 years old and have an exercise heart rate of 138 heartbeats per minute, the average good rate for someone their age, have a good post-exercise heart rate when it’s 98 to 108 heartbeats per minute one minute after exercise. The good post-exercise heart rate declines to about 90 to 100 heartbeats per minute for 40-year-olds and continues to drop thereafter.
- New England Journal of Medicine: Heart-Rate Recovery Immediately After Exercise
- Federal Aviation Administration: Exercise Exercise Exercise
- An Invitation to Health; Dianne Hales
- Controlling Cholesterol The Natural Way; Dr. Kenneth Cooper
Jay Schwartz has had articles printed by the "Chicago Tribune," "USA Today" and many other publications since 1983. He's covered health, fitness, nutrition, business, real estate, government, features, sports and more. A Lafayette, Pa. college graduate, he's also written for several Fortune 500 corporate publications and produced business newsletters.