How to Test Your Heart Rate

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Taking your pulse (or the number of times your heart beats in one minute) can be useful in a variety of situations. Many people use this tool to evaluate their exercise program. Average heart rates can vary from person to person, but your resting heart rate will be lower than your exercise rate. Testing your heart rate is a simple process.

Things You'll Need

  • Stop watch or watch with a second hand
  • heart rate monitor
  • Use the tips of your index, middle and ring finger and place them on the palm side of the opposite wrist (below the base of your thumb). This is also called your radial pulse. You can also take your pulse by placing your fingers at the base of your neck on either side of your windpipe. This is called your carotid pulse since you are placing your fingers on your carotid artery.

  • Feel for your pulse until you are in a position to feel beats consistently.

  • Using a stop watch (or watch with a second hand), count beats for 10 seconds. Multiply this number by six to get your heart rate, which is measured in beats per minute. You can also count for 15 seconds and then multiply by four.

  • Use a heart rate monitor. A monitor will give you a more accurate count. Some people find this is easier during exercise as it can be difficult to measure your own pulse when you are in motion.

Tips & Warnings

  • According to the Cleveland Clinic, a normal resting heart rate for children (ages 6 to 15) is 70 to 100 beats per minutes. A normal rate for adults (18 and older) is 60 to 100 beats per minute. You may want to take your resting pulse rate for several days in a row to get a baseline number. As you become more fit, your resting heart rate should decrease, according to TopEndSports. According to the American Heart Association, the best time to test your resting heart rate is in the morning.
  • If your resting heart rate makes a sudden change (of 10 beats or more per minute), this could be a sign of illness or fatigue. If you have an exercise coach, let her know.

References

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