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How To Assess How Healthy Your Heart Is…Even If You Are Not a Doctor

August 12th, 2009 · 5 Comments ·


Recently, I just learned a new way to assess how healthy my heart is using Heart Rate Recovery. It is a measurement how much the heart rate falls after peak exercise. This method was first introduced by a doctor, Michael Lauer with his research team, back in late 90s.


Nowadays, doctors are using this test when they suspect their patients have heart problem. Patients are asked to run on a treadmill with increasing intensity until they are not able to go on. Then, their heart rates are recorded to see how the heart beats are slowing down. The healthier a person’s heart, the faster it returns to its normal heart beat. To get an idea of your own heart rate recovery, you simply subtract your heart rate at two minutes after stopping exercise from your heart rate at the very end of exercise.

Here is How Heart Rate Recovery Works:

  • Say, at the end of the exercise, your heart rate is 180 beats per second minute.
  • Rest for 2 minutes, then take your heart rate again. Say, it is 120 beats per second minute.
  • So, within that resting two minutes, your heart beat has slowed down by 60 ( 180 minus 120).
  • Because you have rested for 2 minutes, divide 60 with 2 and you will get 30 beats per minute.

This is the general guide line for heart rate recovery:

  • A really fit person will experience a decrease of 25 or more beats per minute.
  • A normal person will have decrease of 15 to 25 beats per minute.
  • People with not so good heart rate recovery will have decrease of 12 to 15 beats per minute.
  • Those with decrease of 12 beats per minute or less are at a greater risk for death from heart disease.


By now, I am sure you are excited and eager to want to calculate your heart rate recovery. Yes, I am sure you can do so, but you will not be able to get a reliable figure from your average jog or brisk walking. Remember that I mentioned you need to undergo maximal exercise by pushing yourself to the limit before you rest and take the heart rates. So, you need to run almost at the top of your speed on treadmill before taking the reading.

Also, you need to get a good heart rate monitor.

If you wonder how you can get resting heart rate (note, resting), check out this article – Do You Know Your Resting Heart Rate?



Category: Health

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5 responses so far ↓
  • IMCurtain // Aug 12, 2009 at 10:33 AM

    Without doing the instructions above, I know that my heart is not healthy at the moment. Too much Nasi Lemak, Roti Canai and Teh Tarik and no exercise at all…

  • Tami // Aug 12, 2009 at 4:29 PM

    Hey Mun
    Can you go over “Here is How Heart Rate Recovery Works:”
    bit again. You say if you heart rate is 180 beats per second… I think I would be an ailen machine if that were the case. Did you mean minutes?
    Sorry I want to try this at the gym later and would like to know


  • Mun // Aug 12, 2009 at 5:06 PM

    Hi Tami,

    Opps. Thanks for pointing the mistakes out. Probably only mutant has 180 beats per second. :o)

  • Tom Parker // Aug 19, 2009 at 4:32 AM

    Good post Mun. We used to use this method in PE classes at school.

  • Chris // Aug 23, 2009 at 3:33 AM

    Hey, my heart rate will completely max out at 195 bpm if i am going as hard as i can. I can’t sustain that for more than probably a minute and it is hard getting it there. 180 is about the max i can normally go and i can get just enough to go faster and hit 195.

    I havent’ timed yet to see how long it takes to recover, so that’ll be my next goal.

    btw, simple not always perfect formula for max heart rate for guys: 220-age, so i’m 32 and that puts me at 188. this is NOT totally accurate and there are other ways to find it based on your fitness level, but it seems to be close enough for me to work.

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