Your resting heart rate can vary with your fitness level — the fitter you are, generally the lower your resting heart rate. This is due to the heart getting bigger and stronger with exercise and becoming more efficient at pumping blood around the body. But age can also be also factor.
Fitbit has a database of more than 25 million active users. The company’s Pure Pulse heart rate sensor was introduced in 2014, and since then Fitbit has accumulated more than 108 billion hours of heart rate data. This gives it a unique position to identify heart rate trends. The company tapped into this database and found that resting heart rate decreases after the age of 40, and that women tend to have a higher average resting heart rate than men.
Essential reading: Guide to lowering your resting heart rate with wearables
Your resting heart rate is an important number to know in regards to your general health. A normal resting heart rate can range anywhere from 60 to 100 beats per minute. A lower resting heart rate can indicate more efficient heart function and cardiovascular fitness.
It is generally thought that as you age, your readings will go up due to the decline of physical fitness and a decline in the elasticity of the heart. But Fitbit heart rate analysis found that this is not the case. It seems after the age of 40, a person’s resting heart rate starts to gradually decline. And this is the case for both men and women. Why this is so, the company did not reveal. Perhaps the fitness tracker wearing segment of the population is more health conscious and active, and that translates into healthier hearts.
“Resting heart rate is an important metric for users to gauge their cardiovascular health, track fitness levels, check stress levels, and recognize early signs of illness or health issues,” said Dr. Scott McLean, Principal Research Scientist at Fitbit.
“When tracking resting heart rate, users should be aware of other factors such as differences between gender, age, seasonal changes and outdoor temperature, daily sleep and activity levels, and caffeine intake. With so many factors that can influence resting heart rate, users can obtain useful information on their health with the ability to continuously track resting heart rate trends over time rather than on a day-to-day basis.”
Fitbit also found that men tend to have lower resting heart rates than women. Their analysis of heart rate trends over the past 18 months revealed that female users average 66.6 beats per minute, versus 63.5 for men. Females in their 40s had the highest average resting heart rate of all users (67.4 bpm), while men in their 80s registered the lowest values (59.7 bpm).
The San Francisco wearables manufacturer also looked at differences by country. The analysis found that users in the US and Singapore had the highest average resting heart rates of the 15 countries analyzed (65.9 bpm). Users in Italy had the lowest values (61.9).
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The good news is, whatever your resting heart rate there are things you can do to improve it. Regular amounts of high intensity exercise are particularly important, as they strengthen the heart and improve its efficiency. Other positive lifestyle changes include reducing stress, avoiding tobacco products and losing weight if necessary.
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