What shows how healthy someone is by their heart rate - how low it is at resting pulse or how low it is during exercise or how large the difference is between the resting rate and rate with load? Any ideas?

Clarification: Essentially, how does the heart rate reflect healthiness and in which ways (is it the resting pulse, pulse during exercise, differences, etc.)

Thank you for your time and effort

  • $\begingroup$ As an additional note, Chris from the chat room says that "the time you need after an exercise to get to the complete resting pulse is a good indicator." $\endgroup$
    – Turbo
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 23:29
  • $\begingroup$ "Which questions are off-topic?: personal medical questions and health advice." $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 23:33
  • $\begingroup$ @fileunderwater I don't quite think that my question is off-topic since it is not listed under: -> personal medical questions and health advice -> philosophical or ethical questions related to biology If you read the question carefully, this question is the relationship between heart rate and health, not "I go to the gym every week, what else should I do?" $\endgroup$
    – Turbo
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 23:38
  • $\begingroup$ In general, these types of health related questions are closed at BioSE, since they could 1) be a reformulated question on personal health advice or 2) be used to evaluate individual health. Both are off-topic for the site. Your Q is also not framed in terms of biological processes, but only asks about evaluation of health. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 23:45
  • $\begingroup$ @fileunderwater "personal health advice" "individual health" - This is an entire field in biology on the research of fitness where graphs of heart rates (bpm) and breathing rates (metres cubed per hour) are used on a regular basis. User Chris has done some training in this field too. This question stems from research, not individual health interests and actually results from a team practical. $\endgroup$
    – Turbo
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 23:50

1 Answer 1


A healthy heart and cardiovascular system distributes oxygenated blood more efficiently than a less healthy one. Therefore, for a given level of exertion, a healthy heart will need to pump fewer times than a less healthy one to provide the same quantity of oxygenated blood to the rest of the body.

It's pretty much that simple.

However, the whole patient has to be considered. A low heart rate in and of itself doesn't mean someone is fit since there are many drugs and medical conditions that can create a low heart rate. Person A sitting in front of you appears fit and healthy, is on no relevant medications, and has a heart rate of 50? Fitness almost certainly explains it. Person B sitting in front of you is overweight, on several meds and not very fit? Fitness almost certainly doesn't explain it.

  • $\begingroup$ Is there also a relationship with the difference between the heart rate during excise and during rest? e.g. I did a team experiment and Will had a lower heart rate than Harry. However, when it came two exercise, the difference between the exercise heart rate and normal heart rate was larger than Harry's. Is this an error, mere coincidence or something that can tell us more about his health? $\endgroup$
    – Turbo
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 8:29
  • $\begingroup$ @TimTimmy Not an error unless the measurements were in error, but I don't know how to interpret the results you pose. Someone who is more fit should start with a lower heart rate and end up with a lower heart rate for the same level of exertion than someone who is less fit. But that's a huge generalization. Individuals respond very differently to the same levels of exertion. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 6:22

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