Your Heart Rate

What Is Your Pulse?

Your pulse is your heart rate, or the number of times your heart beats in one minute. Heart rates vary from person to person. Your pulse is lower when you’re at rest and higher when you exercise.

Knowing how to take your pulse can help you evaluate your exercise program. If you are taking heart medications, recording your pulse daily and reporting the results to your doctor can help him see if your treatment is working.

How Do I Take My Pulse?

  1. Place the tips of your index and middle finger on the palm side of your other wrist, below the base of the thumb. Or place the tips of your index and middle finger on your lower neck, on either side of your windpipe.
  2. Press lightly with your fingers until you feel the blood pulsing beneath your fingers. You may need to move your fingers around until you feel the pulsing.
  3. Count the beats you feel for 10 seconds. Multiply this number by six to get your heart rate (or pulse) per minute.

What Is a Normal Pulse?

A normal resting heart rate is usually 60-100 beats per minute. Your number may vary. Children tend to have higher resting heart rates than adults.

What Is Maximum Heart Rate?

The maximum heart rate is, on average, the highest your pulse can get. To calculate your predicted maximum heart rate, use this formula:

220 - Your Age = Predicted Maximum Heart Rate

For example, a 40-year-old's predicted maximum heart rate is about 180 beats per minute.

Your actual maximum heart rate can be determined by a graded exercise test. If you are taking medicines or have a medical condition (such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes), ask your doctor if your maximum heart rate (and target heart rate) should be adjusted.

What Is Target Heart Rate?

You gain the most benefits when you exercise in your ''target heart rate zone.'' Usually, this is when your exercise heart rate (pulse) is 60%-80% of your maximum heart rate. In some cases, your doctor may decrease your target heart rate zone to begin with 50%.

Continued

Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program. Your doctor can help you find a routine and target heart rate zone that match your needs, goals, and physical condition.

When beginning an exercise program, you may need to gradually build up to a level that is within your target heart rate zone, especially if you have not exercised regularly before. If the exercise feels too hard, slow down. You will reduce your risk of injury and enjoy the exercise more if you don't try to overdo it.

To find out if you are exercising in your target zone (between 60%-80% of your maximum heart rate), stop exercising and check your pulse. If your pulse is below your target zone (see the chart below), step up the intensity of your workout.

 

Age

Target Heart Rate (HR)

Zone (60%-80%)

Predicted Maximum Heart Rate

20

120-170

200

25

117-166

195

30

114-162

190

35

111-157

185

40

108-153

180

45

105-149

175

50

102-145

170

55

99-140

165

60

96-136

160

65

93-132

155

70

90-128

150

Your Actual Values:

Target HR:

Max. HR:

 

 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on June 01, 2016

Sources

SOURCE: American Heart Association.

© 2016 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Pagination