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Fitbit data shows resting heart rate decreases after age 40

This post was originally published on the Fitbit press site. It has been adapted from its original format.

Fitbit, the leading global wearables brand, today revealed a resting heart rate analysis on its global users over the last 18 months. The company analyzed a representative sample of aggregated and anonymized average data of about 4 million of global Fitbit users with PurePulse heart rate tracking devices, including Fitbit Alta HR, Fitbit Charge 2, Fitbit Blaze and Fitbit Ionic from July 1, 2016 to December 31, 2017. Key findings revealed that resting heart rate decreases after age 40, women tend to have a higher average resting heart rate than men, and Fitbit users in the United States and Singapore had the highest average resting heart rate compared to users worldwide.

graph showing an initial increase, then constant decrease in resting heart rate for males and females as people age

Graph showing resting heart rate data analysis by age and gender

The ability to track resting heart rate with Fitbit devices can help provide users with a greater understanding of their heart health, allowing users to know if their resting heart rate falls within an “average” range. The American Heart Association notes that a normal resting heart rate ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute for adults, and it is understood by medical experts that a lower resting heart rate can indicate more efficient heart function and cardiovascular fitness.

With more than 108 billion hours of heart rate data tracked since introducing the first continuous day and night, wrist-based heart rate tracking wearable device in 2014 and with more than 25 million active users, Fitbit has one of the most extensive, longitudinal databases on heart rate metrics in the world as of December 31, 2017. This data uniquely positions Fitbit to identify heart rate trends across millions of global users, providing insights and opening the possibility for additional research at a larger scale that may have been previously unavailable to medical researchers and healthcare professionals.

“Resting heart rate is an important metric for users to gauge their cardiovascular health, track fitness levels, check stress levels, and recognize early signs of illness or health issues,” said Dr. Scott McLean, Principal Research Scientist at Fitbit. “When tracking resting heart rate, users should be aware of other factors such as differences between gender, age, seasonal changes and outdoor temperature, daily sleep and activity levels, and caffeine intake. With so many factors that can influence resting heart rate, users can obtain useful information on their health with the ability to continuously track resting heart rate trends over time rather than on a day-to-day basis.”

The analysis provides a deeper look into the resting heart rate patterns of Fitbit users who identify as men and women in the Fitbit app, as well as users ages 20-80+. The analysis uncovered these correlations and observations, some of which have been observed in the medical community (see Table 1):

  • Female users had a higher average resting heart rate (RHR) than male users by about 3 beats per minute (BPM).
  • Female users ages 40-49 had the highest average RHR of all users at 67.4 BPM. Male users ages 40-49 had the highest average RHR among male users at 64.6 BPM, still lower than females in almost every age group (except females 70+).
  • Male and female users’ RHR increased with age from 20’s-40’s, then decreased after age 40.

Fitbit also evaluated the average resting heart rate among users in 15 countries. The analysis found users in the United States and Singapore had the highest average RHR at 65.9 BPM. Users in Italy had the lowest average RHR at 61.8 BPM (see Table 2).

February marks Heart Health Month, a time to raise awareness on maintaining heart health. Exercising more often, losing weight if necessary, reducing stress, and avoiding tobacco products can help decrease resting heart rate. Wearing a Fitbit device with PurePulse to track heart rate continuously while at rest and during sleep, and seeing trends in the Fitbit app can help determine if lifestyle changes may have a positive or negative effect on heart health.

Fitbit Ambassador and celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak notes these tips to lead a healthy lifestyle:

  • Regularly engage in moderate to vigorous aerobic activities like brisk walking, biking or swimming to help the heart become more efficient at pumping blood, plus you might lose weight which can lower resting heart rate over time.
  • If you notice an increase in resting heart rate while going heavy on training but light on the rest, your body may be telling you to scale back.
  • Chronic sleep deprivation—which can lead to fatigue, a lower metabolism, and extra snacking—can also raise your resting heart rate. Aim for at least seven hours of sleep each night.
  • Keep track of your heart rate data to gauge what is normal or abnormal for you. Knowing your data can be one of the first steps to gauging whether to seek professional medical attention.
  • Additional heart health tips from Harley can be found on the Fitbit blog here.

Data Source: Fitbit analyzed a representative sampling of aggregated and anonymized average data of about 4 million global Fitbit users from July 1, 2016-December 31, 2017.


Table listing out RHR data by age and gender with initial increase until 40's age group and then constant decline until the 80's age group

Table 1: RHR data analysis by age and gender

RHR average by country

Table 2: RHR average by country

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