Active Minutes per Day vs Average Resting Heart Rate by Country: Chart

This data comes from the Fitbit company who manufacturers wrist watch style heart monitor computers. They are expensive, so usually those with extra money would buy them. In other words, this is not indicative of the average person in the country, but only those that are willing and able to buy these devices. This usually means the more affluent and better educated people.

I am surprised that, for example, people in China exercise on average 60 minutes per day. While some do, most Chinese do not like to exercise, so this is puzzling.

This chart plots the average number of minutes of exercise per day by the average resting heart rate, for various countries that have bought and used Fitbits.

Country vs. Country

“These are my favorite charts,” says Emir-Farinas. She plotted age-adjusted data from the 55 countries with the most Fitbit wearers.

It graphs the citizens’ activity levels (horizontal axis) against their average resting heart rate (vertical). source

Active Minutes per Day vs Average Resting Heart Rate by Country, FitBit data

Active Minutes per Day vs Average Resting Heart Rate by Country, FitBit data

The variation in heart rates is, to me, just crazy. Among people who get about 55 minutes of activity a day, the RHR is about 62 beats a minute in Costa Rica, but almost 70 in India! What could that mean?

“That means there’s other factors at play,” Emir-Farinas says. “It’s their nutrition, it’s their BMIs, it’s their practices, medication — and genetics, of course. That’s also a big part of it.”

In general, Europe beats the world here. “They have designed their cities so that there will be more physical activity. People have to walk more just do normal activities: going to the grocery store, going to work, they have to walk a little,” she says. (Check out Sweden, for example: almost 90 minutes of activity a day!)

They also drink a lot of wine in Europe. Just sayin’.

The scientists note that Qatar seems to be an outlier. Seventy percent of the Qatari population is obese — yet their RHR is an impressive 62. How could that be?

Emir-Farinas’s theory is that huge numbers of them are on blood-pressure and heart meds.

Congratulations to Italians, by the way, with an impressive 84 minutes a day of activity, and a nearly-dead 61 beats-a-minute RHR.

And as for Pakistan, with the worst activity level and a sky-high RHR — get with it, people!

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