Respiratory rate (Vf, Rf or RR) is also known by respiration rate, pulmonary ventilation rate, ventilation rate, or breathing frequency is the number of breaths taken within a set amount of time, typically 60 seconds. A normal respiratory rate is termed eupnea, an increased respiratory rate is termed tachypnea and a lower than normal respiratory rate is termed bradypnea.

Normal range[]

Average respiratory rate reported in a healthy adult at rest is usually given as 12–18 breaths per minute[1][2] but estimates do vary between sources, e.g., 12–20 breaths per minute, 10–14, between 16–18,[3] etc. With such a slow rate, more accurate readings are obtained by counting the number of breaths over a full minute.

By age[]

Average resting respiratory rates by age are:[4]

  • birth to 6 weeks: 30–60 breaths per minute
  • 6 months: 25–40 breaths per minute
  • 3 years: 20–30 breaths per minute
  • 6 years: 18–25 breaths per minute
  • 10 years: 15–20 breaths per minute
  • adults: 12–20 breaths per minute

Minute volume[]

Respiratory minute volume is the volume of air which can be inhaled (inhaled minute volume) or exhaled (exhaled minute volume) from a person's lungs in one minute.


  1. G J Tortora & N P Anagnostakos, Principles of Anatomy and Physiology, 6th edition, New York: Harper-Collins, 1990, ISBN 0-06-046669-3, p. 707
  2. Lauralee Sherwood, Fundamentals of Physiology: A Human Perspective, Thomson Brooks/Cole, 2006, ISBN 0-534-46697-4, p. 380 [1]
  3. Brian S. Beckett, Illustrated Human and Social Biology, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995, ISBN 0-19-914065-0, p. 78 [2]
  4. Wilburta Q. Lindh; Marilyn Pooler; Carol Tamparo; Barbara M. Dahl (9 March 2009). Delmar's Comprehensive Medical Assisting: Administrative and Clinical Competencies. Cengage Learning. p. 573. ISBN 978-1-4354-1914-8.


Loyola Medical Center