Resting Heart Rate tracking


I have started tracking my resting heart rate. This has prompted a few questions:

  1. What are the best practices for taking measurements? I am interested in issues such as when and where to take the measurement, wether to average a few readings or log a min or max, as well as any other significant issues.

  2. What is typical day to day variation in resting heart rate?

  3. What are possible causes of resting heart rate changing more than predicted by typical day to day variation?

I have not found good references or any real consensus on these questions with my web searches. I would really appreciate if anyone could point out any good references that might help or opinions on the issues.


Hi Rod,
in my experience (and also from the data gathered by HRV4Training, an app I made in a slightly different context but anyways providing also resting heart rate data):

  1. HR is affected by many factors, however, it’s more stable than other physiological parameters that you can extract from RR intervals (such as certain heart rate variability - HRV - features). Normally, this is the case because when we talk about HR, we don’t mean instantaneous HR (which is basically the inverse of the RR intervals), but we consider as HR the average HR over a certain period of time, therefore making it more stable than instantaneous measures by definition. Some best practices, usually used for “more strict” HRV measurements: take the measurement right after waking up, before you get your head thinking about stuff (which might cause stress and therefore alter your HR). Possibly, do it while still in bed, this way you are certainly not affected by physical activity. I blog about best practices for HRV measurements from time to time, you can probably find some of the tips applicable, see for example: or more specifically to HRV, in case you get into that:

  2. Provided that your lifestyle is pretty much the same every day, you might see changes as small as 1-2 beats per minute, when taking the measurement over a 60 second window, or even no difference. Even when your perform intense trainings, differences might be extremely small, see for example this post where I analyzed HR and HRV data longitudinally for months, the HR variations (day to day) are very small: or here looking at data from other users: the HR plot towards the bottom gives you an idea.

  3. Some factors affecting your HR: sickness, if you are ill your HR will change consistently, also alcohol intake, no need to get drunk but the day after you will still have higher HR at rest (for me I get easily +10-15 beats). I would say these together with very intense trainings are probably the factors that are often showing up in a “normal lifestyle” (whatever that is).

Hope this helps


Thanks Marco,

The information and links you provided are very helpful! You’ve done some nice work. I’m typically a light drinker, but you’ve inspired me to experiment a bit with the effect alcohol as well.


not sure that was the intention :slight_smile:

some other anecdotal evidence since apparently it was not my lucky weekend, you can see how HR and HRV change with respect to my averages, when having fever:

I put together a trend chart of my experience tracking Resting Heart Rate over the last 10 months. The most significant things I have learned so far is to take the measurement before getting out of bed in the morning, just after waking, and to wait for the reading to stabilize. These seem to be consistent with Marco’s recommendations based on HRV measurement. The attached trend chart shows the reduction in variability in the last 3 months since I adjusted my measurement techniques.



Its not uncommon for distance runners and very fit atheletes to have a lower resting heart rate, as thier heart are stronger and pump more efficiently. I would say you have nothing to worry about since you seem to be able to handle that level of excercise with no problems. I would mention it to your doctor the next time you have a physical or office visit. If you experience any chest pain, dizzyness, or undue shortness of breath…call your doc immediatly. It has been said that lance armstrong has a resting heart rate of about 25-30 beats per minute. Plus normal range is 60-100 so your really not that low…oh…if you blood pressure runs normal that will tell you a lot too. No one test such as pulse, blood pressure…can give a full picture of the shape that your heart is in…they can give clues…but if you are very concerned then call your doctor, you can also visit WEBMD and use their questionaire.
Good luck.

We just released a new app for the iPhone to measure and track resting heart rate.

Resting Heart Rate by SensorBLE

A person’s resting heart rate does not change much day to day allowing significant changes to stand out. By making it easy to measure and see long term trends we hope this app will help you discover insights into your health and fitness.

We would really appreciate any feedback to improve future versions of the app. An Android version will be available soon.

Thanks - Rod


The Android version is now available on Google Play:

A special feature that may be of interest to the QS community is the Email Report. The report not only includes a current screenshot, but also a .csv file with the last year’s Reseting Heart Rate data formatted as yyyymmdd,HeartRate for easy spreadsheet analysis.