Find out what a cardiologist has to say about how long resting heart rate should stay elevated after intense exercise.

Those who faithfully exercise will be curious about resting heart rate.

“Pulse should be elevated for only a brief time after intense exercise such as a stress test in a normal heart in a conditioned individual,” says Dr. Sameer Sayeed, a cardiologist at ColumbiaDoctors of Somers, NY.

“This is called heart rate recovery. Normally, a rapid drop in heart rate after strenuous exercise within a given period of time indicates a healthy and conditioned heart.

“The heart rate should drop by 12 BPM or more, one minute after stopping exercise.

“If it does not, it could indicate a deconditioned heart or a heart that is not receiving enough parasympathetic and vagal nerve tone which usually slows the heart down.”

Biggest Predictor of All-Cause Mortality

“This poor heart rate recovery is usually a predictor of higher mortality from left ventricular systolic dysfunction, cardiac ischemic disease and chronotropic incompetence cardiac arrhythmia,” says Dr. Sayeed.

According to studies, a poor heart rate recovery is the biggest predictor of all-cause mortality. You should keep in mind that causal relationship is extremely important.

For example, a person who smokes and does not regularly exercise, very most likely will have a poor heart rate recovery and a resting pulse that stays quite elevated after physical activity or unexpected exertion.

It stands to reason that such an individual (sedentary smoker) won’t live a long life.

To bring heart rate back down more quickly after stopping exercise (e.g., improve heart rate recovery), you should do aerobic exercise at least three times a week, and two of those sessions should consist of interval training.

The other session should be long-duration, fixed-pace aerobics.

Dr. Sayeed performs echocardiograms and stress tests at the Midtown Manhattan and Westchester offices at Columbia Doctors. He is also trained in cardiac CT imaging.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.