Heart Rate

Synonyms in the broadest sense

pulse rate, heart rate, pulse, pulse rate, heart rhythm


Heart rate describes the number of heartbeats per minute and is measured in bpm (beats per minute). It is an important measure of the load on the cardiovascular system, as there is a linear relationship between heart rate and load intensity.

Definition resting pulse

The resting heart rate is the frequency of the heart under physical rest conditions. The resting heart rate is determined immediately after waking up in the morning. In an adult it is about 80 bpm and decreases as the training progresses.

Definition maximum pulse

The maximum heart rate is the heart rate that can be achieved under maximum working conditions of the muscles. The maximum heart rate is measured under maximum endurance load (sprinting). As a guideline value, 220 minus age.

The maximum heart rate is an individual value that varies from person to person. It decreases with age. Therefore, the formula 220HF/min minus age is only conditionally used here. A medical examination is particularly necessary at an older age.

Baby’s heart rate

The heart rate of children is naturally always higher than that of adults. The highest resting heart rate can be determined in infants. In the course of life, this pulse rate decreases more and more.

On average, heart rates of about 120 beats per minute are normal for babies – a value that would be much too high for adults! For newborns, the resting heart rate may even be as high as 170 bpm. The reason for this naturally increased heart rate in babies is the higher metabolic rate of the baby, which is proportional to its height.

Large amounts of oxygen are required for a very active metabolism such as that of small children. In order to transport it to the target organs, the heart has to pump large amounts of blood with the help of many contractions. This results in a heart rate that appears to be higher than that of adults.

By determining the heart rate, the desired training intensity can be maintained in relation to the selected training goal (e.g. endurance training for fat burning, marathon preparation, etc.). A control of the heart rate by means of heart rate monitors is required. In order to achieve long-term success in endurance training, heart rate control is particularly useful for beginners in order to maintain the desired training intensity.

The higher the athletic load, the more oxygen and energy is required by the muscles involved. Consequently, the heart has to increase the frequency to supply the body with sufficient oxygen. The performance of the heart is thus described on the one hand by the heart rate, on the other hand both the stroke volume (the amount of blood ejected by the heart in one beat) and the heart minute volume (the amount of blood ejected by the heart in one minute) play an important role. The more blood the heart pumps into the circulation in one beat, the fewer beats are needed. This means that competitive athletes have a lower resting heart rate.