All About Your Health and Apex, NC

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What Does Your Pulse Say About Your Health?

I have a number of patients who like to exercise at home with videos.  My attitude has always been, whatever works best for you personally is what’s best.  However, the concern that I have with some of these videos is they tell you to check your heart rate, but they don’t tell you what you should be working towards.  I remember when I was in high school, my mother had a Richard Simmons video and he’d always say, “Ok, let’s check our heart rates.  If it’s too high, take it a little slower.”  I’d check my heartbeat, but I didn’t have a clue if it was too high or not high enough.  So if you’re anything like I was, here’s some information about a healthy pulse rate and what you should be striving towards in your exercise regime.

To begin with, pulse (or heart) rate is defined as the rate at which the heart beats in one minute.  As the heart pumps blood into the body, the blood vessels at the wrist, upper arm and neck start pulsating and throbbing.  While the normal pulse rate is usually between 60 to 100 beats per minute, there are certain medical conditions such as cardiac arrhythmia which may alter the normal pulse rate of an individual.  The factors that can influence your pulse rate are your age, gender and fitness level.  So a toddler’s pulse rate is significantly higher than an adult’s.  Similarly females tend to have faster heart rates than men.  Conditioned athletes may have heart rates as low as 40 beats per minute.

How To Calculate the Pulse Rate
You can check your pulse rate by placing the tips of your index, second and third fingers on the palm side of your other wrist, below the base of the thumb or on your lower neck, on either side of your windpipe.  Make sure you do not use your thumb because you can sometimes feel your heart beat in your thumb and that will skew your number.  Now count the beats for 10 seconds and multiply this number by six to get your pulse.  Checking your pulse rates when resting, during exercises or after it, can give information about the overall fitness.

Resting Pulse Rate Chart: The lower your resting heart rate, the healthier your heart tends to be.  To calculate your resting pulse, sit quietly for 10 minutes.  Here is a table to demonstrate the ideal resting heart rates.

Babies to age 1:100 -160
Children aged 1 to 10:60 -140
Children aged 10+ and adults:60 -100
Well-conditioned athletes:40 – 60

Heart Rate During Exercises: Strenuous exercise increases the pulse rates.  A heart beat calculator can help measure the increase in heart rates.  It should be noted, that exercising above 85 percent of your maximum heart rate increases both cardiovascular and orthopedic risk and does not add any extra benefit.  It is therefore advisable to check with your health care provider, before starting an exercise program. Check the heart beat chart below, to find whether you need to increase or decrease your rate of exercise.

AgeTarget Heart Rate (HR) Zone (60-85%) Predicted Maximum Heart Rate
20120 – 170200
25117 – 166195
30114 – 162190
35111 – 157185
40108 – 153180
45105 – 149175
50102 – 145170
5599 – 140165
6096 – 136160
6593 – 132155
7090 – 128150
Your actual valuesTarget HRMax. HR

Checking your pulse rates, using these healthy pulse rate charts, can indicate good health while an irregular pulse is a symptom of heart disease such as a blocked artery.  Consult a health care provider in case of any unusual observation.

Comments (1)

  1. Wouldn’t your target heart rate be drastically different if your resting heart rate was 64 (like mine) than it would if your resting heart rate was 90 (like my husband)?

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