Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday: What You Should Know About Your Heart Rate


While we all know our heart is constantly beating, there are a few things we should know about how quickly or slowly it’s working in order to stay as healthy as possible. 

“Your heart rate is actually a measure of how many times a minute your heart beats,” noted Cathy Reece with Sentara Martha Jefferson Cardiac Rehab. “When we measure it we are actually palpating what we call a pulse. A pulse can be felt most of the time at the wrist or at the side of the neck.” 

It’s important to know what your heart rate should be both at rest, and during exercise. 

“A normal resting heart rate according to the American Heart Association is around 60-100 beats per minute. That’s just a normal person, but for most people the inclination is to be closer to 60-80,” noted Reece.  

While there’s no perfect answer to the question, averages are a good guide. When it comes to understanding the max rate your heart can beat, a standard formula to use is 220 minus your age. 

“This means that your maximal heart rate will lower as you age, and that’s a normal finding,” said Reece. 
Finally, to calculate your heart rate during exercise, a good rule of thumb is to be somewhere between 60 and 80 percent of your maximal heart rate. 

“The higher workloads will be for more calorie burns and cardiac fitness and the lower ones will be more for people who are looking to get back into shape and work into an exercise program,” noted Reece. 

Fitness trackers can be used to help measure your heart rate, but experts say you do have to watch for variability. Overall, listening to your body, and how you feel, is the most important thing you can do.

For more information on this topic, please call 1-800-SENTARA. If you have a question about your health you’d like us to answer, email healthquestions@nbc29.com

Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday

Do you have health questions? Get the answers every Monday morning from the experts in our feature: Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday.

Jenn Downs will meet with the experts of Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital and ask them your questions. You’ll see and hear the answers during NBC29 News at Sunrise every Monday morning.

To submit your questions, email them to healthquestions@nbc29.com. Then, tune in every Monday morning during NBC29 News at Sunrise for Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday.

Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital