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Resting heart rates

A normal resting heart rate for adolescents and adults ranges between 60-100 beats per minute.

In general, a lower resting heart rate means that the heart functions more efficiently and that the individual has a better cardiovascular fitness. As an example, athletes who are well trained may have a normal resting pulse of around 40 beats a minute.

Certain factors can influence a person's heart rate, and they can include the following:

  • Fitness level.
  • Activity level.
  • Changing body positions such as lying down or standing up.
  • Medications.
  • Air temperature.
  • Body size.
  • Emotions.
Your doctor should be consulted if your resting heart rate is always above 100 beats a minute, called tachycardia, or if your resting heart rate is below 60 beats a minute, called bradycardia, and you're not a trained athlete. This is especially of importance if you experience symptoms or signs such as shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness or fainting.

Active heart rates

An increased heart rate, when one is active, is normal. If the heart rate is elevated at times of rest or inactivity, then this may be due to excessive intake of caffeine or even illicit drug use.

Physical activities help teenagers stay active and fit. It's important that teenagers know how to pace themselves properly so that they can get a challenging workout done without hurting of burning themselves out. A way in which you can monitor how hard your body is working, is by taking note of your heart rate.

As mentioned, a teenager's heart rate can normally vary between 60-100 beats per minute. When one is active, the heart rate then rises and the maximum it can safely get to is around 200-205 beats per minute.

The current formula to determine an individual's active heart rate is 208 – (0.7 x your age).

In order to maximize the fat-burning and cardiovascular benefits of exercise, without straining your body or causing injury, you need to aim for an active heart rate that is 70-85% of your maximum allowed heart rate, which can be worked out using the formula above.

Monitoring a resting and active heart rate can be done by feeling your pulses, either at the wrist or at the side of the neck, and counting the beats per minute or beats per 15 seconds and then multiplying by 4. This will allow you to monitor where your heart rate is at, and whether you are in the correct "target zone" for optimal physical exertion. Investing in a heart monitor may be a good choice as this gives you an immediate, real-time reading so that you can monitor your progress.

Although a persistently high heart rate, even during periods of inactivity, may indicate pathology, this isn't always the case. Illicit drugs such as cannabis and cocaine can increase resting heart rates, but so can stress and anxiety to everyday situations.

With that being said, there are medical conditions such as paroxysmal atrial tachycardia, which is a condition where the heart’s conduction system produces rapid electric signals, and hyperthyroidism can result in an elevated active and resting heart rate.

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