How to Determine the Baseline Heart Rate

Man checking heart rate

Your baseline heart rate can be an important measurement for understanding your physical activity abilities as well as to establish the appropriate intensity level to exercise. Baseline heart rate refers to the beats per minute of your heart during rest or inactivity. Knowledge of your heart rate will help estimate the condition of your cardiovascular system so that you may find a comfortable rate of exercise to maximize your workout. Neither under- nor overexercising is healthy for the body.

Make sure that your body is at rest by sitting in a comfortable position for several minutes. Your body needs to be completely relaxed to obtain the most accurate baseline measurement.

Locate your pulse. There are two places to check for it: either the radial artery between the bone and tendon on the inside of your wrist or the carotid artery at the side of your neck.

Place the tips of your fingers on the location that will provide you with the strongest reading.

Count the beats for 10 seconds.

Multiply this number by 6 to calculate the beats per minute. The resulting number is your baseline heart rate.

Assess your heart rate. According to the Mayo Clinic, a normal baseline heart rate ranges between 60 and 100 beats per minute.


According to the American Council on Exercise, the best time of day to calculate an accurate baseline heart rate is in the morning, after waking up and before you get out of bed.

Avoid placing too much pressure on your wrist or neck because it could inadvertently lower your heart rate.

To ensure greater accuracy, calculate the rate several times and average the rates.


Remember that the measurement you obtain is an estimate. Many factors may influence your heart rate, including activity level, temperature, position of the body, emotions, size and certain medications. Contact your physician for a more accurate reading if your heart rate falls outside of the normal range.