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Exercise - check your pulse

exercise; aerobic; pulse; check; rate; fitness; physical; activity. ;


taking a pulseYour heart is a pump which pumps blood out around your body through your arteries. You can feel the blood pumping where the arteries are close to your skin. These are your pulse points, and if you feel gently with your fingertips you can count how fast your heart is beating.

The idea of aerobic (air-oh-bik) exercise is to get your heart pumping faster, which will exercise and strengthen your heart as well as the muscles that you are using in your body (see our topic Fitness).

Learn how to take your pulse, and you will be able to see how well you are doing in your aerobic exercises.


How to take your pulse

You can find your pulse in several places. Here are two of the easiest places to find it.

  • To find your pulse in your neck
    neck pulsePut three fingers of your left hand onto your Adam's apple in your throat (that's the bit that sticks out and goes up and down when you swallow.)

    Push gently down on one side of it, and you will find your pulse beating (you can feel it going up and down). It can be a bit tricky to find this pulse, so you may not be able to feel it.


  • To find your pulse in your wrist
    Hold your hand in front of you.

    wrist pulseStick your thumb of this hand up in the air and turn the palm towards you.

    With the first two fingers of your other hand, stroke from the top of your thumb down along the side of your hand until your fingers reach the end of your forearm nearest to your wrist.

    Let your fingers slide downwards onto the inside of your forearm until you feel a tendon - which feels like a cord which is going from a muscle to a bone in your hand, and gently feel for your pulse on the thumb side of this tendon.

    When you have found a steady beat, count how many beats in 30 seconds (use a watch or clock with a second hand).

    Times your score by 2, and that will tell you your pulse rate per minute.

To see how well you are exercising:

  • exercisingTake your pulse before you start - this is your 'starting pulse'.
  • Take your pulse after you have been doing high level exercise. You should be aiming for over 120 beats a minute (if you are well). Aim to keep it at the higher rate for 10 minutes.
  • Take your pulse when you have finished your cooling down exercises. It should be the same as, or a bit lower than your starting pulse.

To really improve your stamina and endurance, you should do 20-40 minutes of aerobic exercise at least three times a week.

Aerobic exercise uses your whole body. Try walking fast, running, swimming, cycling, rowing, dancing, gymnastics, training for a sport, etc. Or you could join in team athletics or .....well whatever really gives your body great exercise. Much aerobic exercise is free and the only equipment you need is your body.

Dr Kim says:

Dr KimDon't forget to do your warm up and stretching exercises before starting high energy exercise.

You will notice that your recovery time (how quickly your pulse gets back to normal) gets shorter the fitter you get.



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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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