Confused by my Heart Rate During a Brisk Walk

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Formerly Cuberant
Aug 8, 2016
I try to walk 4 miles every day during the week plus hopefully something longer or some real trail miles on the weekends. At 61 years of age I have always wondered if I am pushing my heart rate too high. Today I took a hike up some local trails followed by a few miles around town. I brought along my wife's pulse/ox meter to take some readings.

While climbing some steep trail at a forced pace I measured 148-152 bpm and 95% ox sat. This was reassuring as my max heart rate calculation comes out to 220 - 61 = 159, so I'm in the right range there. Once down off the mountain I continued my workout on level surface streets around town. In an attempt to get a good cardio workout I aim for 14-15 minutes per mile and indeed my respiration is generally increased to the point of having to breath through my mouth. Taking my pulse after about a mile of this I got 82 bpm and 88% sat. I was totally surprised my heart rate was that low and the lower o2 saturation at that workout level. I generally have a high-ish at-rest heart rate around 75-78 bpm so I was hardly running higher that my at-rest norm.

I'm thinking that having a low-sh heart rate during a brisk walk is a good thing but I am still surprised it was that low. Does this seem normal to you all? I'd especially love to hear from someone in the medical field chime in.

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Mar 3, 2013
Lower.......less stress. Sat measures level carried in blood. . It doesn't decide what is you sat.... A CO poisoned person can register 100% sat... But it's not O2. I take the USFS pack test every year, I'm 67.... Breath thru mouth. Not uncommon as you get more air .. never have measured bp tho... Personally I'd be happy with a low BP...


New Member
Mar 10, 2019
Hey. This is anecdotal but I have noticed that often after a spiking interval, my bpm goes lower when I ease off than it was prior.

My assumption is that the body has some efficiencies there... Maybe profits off the exertion just prior.

May be nothing, but that's what I attribute that to.



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Oct 30, 2016
Bunch of random datapoints from a non-Dr.

If you aren't wearing a chest strap, I'd take any wristwatch heart rate measurements with a big grain of salt.

Here is me zombie walking behind my wife this afternoon, measurements taken off a watch that costs more than the monthly payment on my truck. The readings bounce between 84 and 146 bpm which is ridiculous.

Screen Shot 2020-04-18 at 4.21.20 PM.jpg

Hydration also plays a large role. Here is a run at a slow steady pace, readings between 90 and 172 bpm. You can see cardiac drift occurring as the readings trend higher the longer I exert myself without any fluid intake. This was a sub-freezing run. The effect is more drastic when it is warm and I'm sweating a lot.

Screen Shot 2020-04-18 at 4.29.30 PM.jpg

My resting heart rate even in my current ski-partying-recovery state is 52bpm and I have to be careful getting up too fast or get light headed to the point of nearly passing out. Looking at a couple archives of walking the dog at a 22min/mile pace recently, average bpm is recorded as 95 bpm. Again the watch readings have to be taken with a grain of salt, but still a 43 bpm difference from resting to walking at a snails pace is quite a bit more than the 4-7 bpm increase you noticed on your walk around town at a much more brisk pace.

I wouldn't worry about pushing your heart too hard. If you are exerting to the point where you are gasping for air, that is the point to be concerned.

Check with a Dr though if you have other reasons to be worried about it.

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