Heart Rate After Exercise

What To Know About Increased Heart Rate After Exercise


Billy Hughes
August 23, 2021

You get home from a spin class and find that your heart rate is higher than usual.

This shouldn’t alarm you because it’s totally normal and happens as a result of cardiac output. Basically, your body requires a higher cardiac output during exercise.

Why? Your body needs three to four times your regular output, as a result of the increased oxygen that your muscles need. This causes your heart to beat faster and stronger.

If you’ve had a more intense workout session, this could cause your heart rate to remain elevated for longer.

Let’s explore everything you need to know about increased heart rate after exercise. 

How Long Does An Elevated Heart Rate Last After Exercise? 

checking pulse

If you’ve completed a session of low to moderate aerobic exercise intensity, your heart rate will usually get back to normal between 10 to 20 minutes after exercise.

However, if you’ve worked out for speed, power, and strength, you’ll be making use of energy from anaerobic energy systems, which means you’ll endure less recovery time between sets. When working out for muscular endurance and anaerobic fitness, your heart rate will increase incrementally throughout the workout.

This is why it takes longer for your heart rate to go back to normal after the exercise – you’re looking at between 20 and 40 minutes.

This basically occurs as a result of more demand put on the cardiovascular system to move more blood out of working muscles and return the blood to vital organs, while cleaning out waste products: CO2 and lactate. 

If your exercise intensity fluctuated during your session, your heart rate will also fluctuate. This has been seen in periods of high-intensity exercise mixed with periods of lower-intensity exercise.

The heart rate will basically copy the intensity – it will increase when the intensity does and increase when the intensity drops. 

Why Has Your Resting Heart Rate Increased After Exercise? 

after exercise pulse check

It’s one thing for your heart rate after exercise to be a bit elevated, but it’s a little different if your resting heart rate has experienced an increase after you’ve worked out.

Before we look at why this happens, it’s worth explaining what a resting heart rate is. Basically, your resting heart rate is how many times your heart beats per minute when your body is resting.

A healthy resting heart rate for adults is 60 to 100 beats per minute. An athlete will have a heart rate that’s much lower than this, though – sometimes around 40 beats per minute. This is as a result of how a lower resting heart rate is a sign of healthy cardiovascular function.

If you’ve been putting your body through strenuous exercise but not giving your body the time it needs to rest, then you might experience your heart rate increasing even when you’re at rest. This is just a sign from your body that you need more chill time. Make sure you always have some time for your body to repair after a workout.

There are other things that could contribute to your resting heart rate being elevated, such as if it’s hot and you haven’t been drinking enough water, or if you’re feeling stressed. 

Understanding Target Heart Rate – Why Does It Matter? 

what is target heart rate

Target heart rate is a heart rate range that ensures you stay safe when exercising.

It’s based on 60 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate, and will vary depending on your age. It’s not just about safety, though. Focusing on your target heart rate ensures that you can take advantage of various benefits.

For example, by keeping your heart rate in the lower range, you’ll be able to exercise for longer periods at a time and boost your weight loss. On the other hand, if you keep your heart rate in the higher range, you’ll experience improved cardiorespiratory fitness. 

If you’re 20 years old and your heart rate is 120 beats per minute, that’s 60 percent of your heartbeat. On the other hand, 70 percent will be 140 beats and 80 percent will be 160 beats.

By comparison, if you’re 25, 60 percent of your heart rate is 117 beats, 70 percent is 137 beats and 80 percent is 156 beats. We can see from a useful table that as you get older, your target heart rate gets lower.

For example, when you’re 35, you’ll release 111 heartbeats at 60 percent of your heart rate, 130 beats at 70 percent, and 148 at 80 percent. This happens because one’s maximum heart rate decreases with age. 

How Do You Measure Your Maximum Heart Rate? 

To work out your maximum heart rate, you should subtract your age from 220.

This number will be the average maximum number of times your heart should beat every minute during exercise. 

What Should Be Your Recovery Heart Rate?

Earlier, we talked about why your heart rate increases after exercise, but to know even more about it we need to look at recovery heart rate. Why is this important? 

Generally, it’s said that having a lower recovery rate after vigorous exercise is said to be better. This is a sign of being fit.

If you’re not happy with your recovery heart rate because it’s not as low as you’d want it to be, you can do some important things.

  • You should wait a few days before checking your pulse because this rate can vary from one day to the next. Your heart rate can increase from a variety of things, such as tiredness, too much caffeine, or a lack of hydration. 
  • To improve your recovery rate, you should follow a healthy lifestyle, eat nutritious food, exercise regularly, stay hydrated, get enough sleep, relieve stress, and avoid alcohol. All of these can improve your heart recovery rate.

So, what should your recovery heart rate be?

recovery after workout

To calculate your heart rate recovery after exercise, you need to take your heart rate as soon as you stop exercising. Then, check it again after a minute. Heart rate recovery is usually measured at one, two, and three minute intervals.

An easy way to get your recovery rate is to see the difference between the number taken as soon as you stopped exercising and the number a minute later.

So, if your heart rate is 170 beats per minute when taken as soon as you stop working out, then it drops to 150 beats per minute a minute later, the difference between the two is your heart recovery rate – that means your rate is 20 beats per minute.

A recovery heart rate that’s between 25 and 30 is considered healthy, while 50 to 60 is also very good. But what’s considered a normal heart recovery rate varies. Some studies say that a normal rate is a drop greater than 12 beats per minute, while other studies state it’s more than 18 beats per minute.

Instead of getting bogged down by what is considered normal, it’s more useful to try to improve your heart recovery rate over time. You should check your recovery heart rates twice a week so you can monitor your fitness and see how it’s improving. 

Related Questions 

When’s the best time to check your resting heart rate?

The best time to check your resting heart rate is first thing in the morning when you wake up.

This is because you haven’t had caffeine in tea or coffee yet that can cause your heart rate to increase.

What factors influence your resting heart rate?

Your fitness, age, cardiovascular health, body position, emotions, body size, and medication can all affect your resting heart rate.

If you’re a smoker or have a health condition such as diabetes or high cholesterol, these can also influence your resting heart rate.


If you regularly exercise, it’s important to monitor your pulse as this will give you insight into how your fitness is improving and will alert you of any problems.

For example, if your resting heart rate is higher than it should be and you think it’s because you’re putting your body through too many strenuous workouts in a short period of time, this can help you to pace yourself and become a bit healthier.

In this article, we’ve featured important things to know about heart rate and exercise, such as how to know what heart recovery rate is healthiest. 


Billy Hughes

Billy Hughes is a fitness trainer based out of New York. She has registered success in training clients at multiple fitness centers and thus aims to establish her module relevant to the post-pandemic era. Her space, Cerevellum.com, is an attempt towards encouraging and educating more people on the scope of indoor fitness. She believes the power of fitness can transform attitude, personality, and way of living. She also finds it rewarding to help people achieve their goals and make their lives better.