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Ask A Scientist

How many times does a normal person’s heart beat in one day? 

Asked by: Elysa Morales
School: Maine-Endwell Middle School
Grade: 6
Teacher: Kevin Wagstaff
Hobbies/Interests: Exercise and Home Renovation
Career Interest: Chef, teacher and artist  

Answer from Jessica Surdey

Instructor, Health and Wellness Studies, Binghamton University

Research area: Stress and Self-Esteem
Interests/hobbies: Exercise and Home Renovation

The heart is one of the most important organs in the body because it pumps oxygen and nutrient rich blood to all body parts, especially the brain. The simple answer to your question is that an average person’s heart beats 60-80 times a minute at rest, which is about 100,000 times per day. This means the heart beats about 36 million times a year and about 3 billion times in a lifetime. To take your own heart rate, place your pointer and middle finger on the thumb side of your wrist on the artery. You should be able to feel your pulse. Set a timer for 30 seconds and count how many times you feel a thump. Multiply that number by two to get your resting heart rate.

The more complex answer to this question is that everyone is not "average" and there are many factors that can affect a person’s heart rate.

A person’s genes can play a major role in heart rate. A family can pass down certain diseases that cause more strain on the heart, like high blood pressure. Also, people often observe behaviors from their family, like how to deal with anxiety or stress, which can cause the heart to beat faster.

Another factor that affects heart rate is how much an individual exercises and whether they live a healthy lifestyle. An athlete who exercises a lot can have a much lower resting heart rate than the average person’s heart rate. For example endurance athletes that participate in events like The Tour de France, have a resting heart rate of 40 beats per minute. The more fit a person becomes, the more fit their heart becomes, which lowers their heart rate. Diet can also impact heart rate. Drinks containing caffeine like coffee, teas, energy drinks, and sodas cause the heart rate to increase.

Having a high heart rate is not good; we don’t want the heart to beat more than it needs to because the heart can get worn out. For example, a car can be driven a certain number of miles. If you drive all those miles, over-working the car in a short time, the car will develop problems much earlier. The same concept applies to the heart. It is not healthy to make the heart work very hard for long periods of time because it will get worn out earlier in life. It is important to remember to exercise regularly and eat healthy to keep the heart working properly!

Last Updated: 9/18/13