How fast should my heart beat?
If you’re an adult, your heart should beat between 50 and 90 times per minute when you rest, regardless of your age or gender. If you are a fit athlete, your heart rate may be as low as 40 or 50 beats per minute. If you are overweight, smoke, or have high blood pressure, your heart rate may be a little fast.
How do I measure my heart rate?
The easiest way to measure your heart rate, or pulse, is with a heart rate monitor. It’s a band that wraps around your chest and displays your heart rate on a wristwatch-like gadget. You can find these monitors, which cost between $50 and $200, at most sporting goods stores and on many specialty websites that sell sports equipment.
Of course, if you don’t have a heart rate monitor, you can measure your pulse the old fashioned way. First, find your pulse in your wrist or neck.
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Hold one hand (preferably the one without a watch) in front of you, palm facing up. Press the first two fingers (index and middle) of your other hand to the outer edge of your upturned wrist (under the thumb, just below where your hand meets your wrist), until you feel a strong beat. Don’t use your thumb to feel your pulse, as you can often feel a pulse too.
Neck: Press the tips of your first two fingers against the side of your neck, just below your jawline and halfway between your ear and your chin, until you feel a strong throb. Be sure to press gently; some experts believe pressing hard on your neck can slow your pulse. Once you know how to take your pulse, look at your watch or place a clock in plain sight and wait for the second hand (or the seconds display on a digital watch) to reach the next quarter minute. Count your pulse beats for 15 seconds; then take that number and multiply it by four to get your heart rate (the number of times your heart beats in a minute).
How fast should my heart beat when I exercise?
If you’re starting an exercise program, try to stay in your target heart rate zone so you can get a good cardiovascular workout without overexerting yourself. The zone is usually 50-70% of your maximum heart rate. Stay at the lower end of this range for a few weeks if you start a new fitness routine and gradually increase to 70% of your maximum heart rate. Only very fit people should aim for more than 70% of their maximum heart rate during exercise.
Remember that a heart rate chart can only give you a rough estimate of your heart rate during exercise. If you think the heart rate given in the table is too difficult or too easy for you, use the “conversation test”. If you’re at the lower end of your target zone, you should be able to talk easily and still feel like you’re putting effort into your workout. At the higher end of your zone, it should start to become difficult to hold a conversation or sing a song. To double-check, take a short break halfway through your workout and measure your pulse as described above.
This chart can give you a rough idea of what to aim for. It assumes that you are standing with your feet touching a flat surface while you exercise (i.e. you walk, run, or use a treadmill or similar machine). If you cycle or spin, subtract five beats from the target number; if you are swimming, subtract 10.
|Age||50% of max
|70% of max
|85% of max
It’s best to match your exercise heart rate to how you feel during exercise. If you’re a smoker or have high blood pressure or heart disease, talk to your doctor or certified trainer about a target heart rate that’s right for you.
If you overwork yourself, you can definitely make your heart beat too fast. Your maximum heart rate is a guideline that tells you how fast your heart can beat. The rule of thumb: subtract your age from 220. If you’re 35, for example, your maximum heart rate is around 185. This is an estimate of how fast your heart is capable of go.
Centers for the Control and Prevention of Disasters. Target heart rate and estimated maximum heart rate.
Centers for the Control and Prevention of Disasters. Physical activity for all: measurement of the intensity of physical activity: target heart rate and estimated maximum heart rate.
American College of Sports Medicine. Selection and effective use of a heart rate monitor. 2007.