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Why Do Breathing and Heart Rate Remain Elevated After Exercise Stops?

written by: Caramel • edited by: Stephanie Mojica • updated: 6/20/2010

This article 'Why Do Breathing and Heart Rate Remain Elevated After Exercise Stops?' will first give a working definition of what the heart rate is. It will go on to explain what things affect bpm at rest, during and after exercise.

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    Why Do Breathing and Heart Rate Remain Elevated After Exercise Stops?

    Have you ever asked yourself the question, "Why do breathing and heart rate remains elevated after exercise stops?" To answer that question it may be important to take a look at the rate at which the heart beats before and during an exercise. The human heart has many stimuli that cause its rate to change. Knowing just what is considered a normal rate after exercise is important in determining if there’s a problem and a need to seek medical attention.

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    Normal Heart Rate Facts

    The heart rate is basically the amount of times the heart beats per minute. An adult usually has a normal resting heart rate of about 60 to 100 beats per minute, or bpm. A well-trained athlete's resting heart rate is around 40 to 60 beats per minute. Some things that may influence heart rate readings are a person's fitness level, medications; also your age and even mood may also affect your heart rate.

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    About the Maximum Heart Rate

    The maximum heart rate is defined as the highest rate by which the heart can beat per minute. To calculate your maximum heart rate subtract your age from 220. During an exercise session your heart rate should be around 100 to 150 bpm (50 percent to 85 percent target heart zones.) The target heart zone lets you measure your fitness level and monitor your progress in a fitness program. For example a 20-year-old person should have a bpm of about 100 to 170 which is a 50 to 85 percent target heart rate zone during exercise.

    When just starting an exercise program it’s wise to stay within 50 percent of the target heart zone until the body is better conditioned (a few weeks.) Starting an exercise program with a workout that is too intense coupled with being out of shape may cause higher than normal bpm readings.

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    How to Check Your Recovery Heart Rate

    The recovery heart rate is the amount of time it takes the heart to return to normal bpm rates after an exercise session is over (usually about one minute.) With the recovery heart rate, the healthier a person is the quicker their bpm returns to normal. Knowing these numbers can indicate whether or not a person is at risk of a heart attack or cardiovascular disease.

    The best way to check you recovery heart rate is to first record your heart rate before an exercise. Next get on a stationary bike or treadmill for about 1 minute to record a simple test. Tests that are more formal require you to exercise until you are tired. During the exercise the heart rate is monitored also. When the exercise session is over record the bpm to see how high it has raised. In the first minute the heart rate needs to be recorded every fifteen seconds, then once every minute until it returns to the normal bpm. As stated earlier, this is the recovery heart rate, the amount of time it takes the heart to return to a normal bpm after an exercise session is over.

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    Importance of Heart Rate Checks

    If you are in good health your heart rate should return to normal at 10 to 15 minutes after your workout session is over. A normal heart rate recovery is when the pulse rate decreases 15 to 25 beats per minute after exercising. However, an abnormal heart recovery rate is usually a drop of 12 or fewer beats per minute.

    If you are 40, experience dizziness, pain, or shortness of breath during exercise, or have a family history of heart disease, it may be wise to have a cardiologist administer a stress test.

    This information offered to answer the question of, "Why do breathing and heart rate remain elevated after exercise stops?" is meant to answer the heart rate issue question but also guide those who need to seek medical intervention.

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