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How To Tell Your Heart Rate

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How To Find Your Real Maximum Heart Rate

How To Check Your Heart Rate

by: Shin Ohtake, Fitness & Fat-Loss ExpertAuthor of MAX Workouts, The Ultimate Lean Body Fitness Program

Exercising within your target heart rate zone has long been accepted as a standard training protocol, but what if I told you that the formula for calculating your max heart rate is inaccurate? And that even the doctor that created the formula admits to being completely surprised at how the medical and fitness communities have made it the standard formula, without anyone actually doing any extended research.

Heres the real story on how the formula for calculating your max heart rate came about :

Can you imagine if your MHR was 160, but according to the formula your MHR was supposed to be 185? You could push your self until you passed out and still not reach your calculated MHR. Or, on the other hand, what if your MHR was actually 200, but the formula calculated it to be 180? You would always be training at sub-par intensities, wondering why the people around you were sweatin up a storm when you barely broke a sweat.

The truth is that the popularity of the formula was more about timing than about exact science. It was available at just the right time, when people wanted an easy way to objectively figure out an intensity that would satisfy filling the criteria for both the medical field as well as the fitness field.

So what is the best way to find out how hard you need to train, without going into the danger zone? Well, you have a couple of options.

Stay Lean,

How To Find Your Target Heart Rate

First, it helps to know your resting heart rate, Martin says. Find your pulse . Then count the number of beats in a minutethats your resting heart rate. The average resting heart rate is between 60 and 100, he says. The more fit you are, the lower your resting heart rate for very fit people, its in the range of 40 to 50 beats per minute.

Target heart rate is generally expressed as a percentage of your maximum safe heart rate. The maximum rate is based on your age, as subtracted from 220. So for a 50-year-old, maximum heart rate is 220 minus 50, or 170 beats per minute. At a 50 percent exertion level, your target would be 50 percent of that maximum, or 85 beats per minute. At an 85 percent level of exertion, your target would be 145 beats per minute. Therefore, the target heart rate that a 50-year-old would want to aim for during exercise is 85 to 145 beats per minute.

But theres an easier way to figure it out if you want to skip the math: Wear a fitness tracking device, or exercise on a treadmill or other machine that calculates target heart rate for you, Blaha suggests.

What Are Heart Palpitations

A heart palpitation is when you suddenly become aware of your heart beating, usually in an irregular way. Sometimes you can feel it in your ears or your chest when youre lying down. Your heart beat may feel:

  • too fast or slow
  • like its fluttering
  • like its thudding, or pounding.

It is not unusual to feel heart palpitations occasionally and mostly they are harmless. However if youre experiencing them on a regular basis, see your doctor.

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How To Check Heart Rate At Home

Wondering how to calculate resting heart rate on your own?

One convenient method involves an electronic fitness tracker. These devices can come in many forms, including a watch or chest strap. Some workout machines even have a built-in BPM monitor, so you can see your heart rate at a glance.

You dont need high-tech equipment to determine your heart rate though. The following techniques will also get the job done.

Note that its best to check your heart rate in the morning, before you have your morning cup of coffee or tea. Measuring it after a workout will also give you an inflated number.

  • Radial pulse: use your middle and pointer finger to find a pulse at the base of your thumb, along the inside fold of your wrist. Count the beats for 15 seconds. Multiply that number by four to determine your BPM.
  • Carotid pulse: use your middle and pointer finger to find a pulse on the side of your windpipe, just under your jawbone. You can find it on either side of your neck. Count the beats for 15 seconds and multiply that number by four.
  • Pedal and brachial pulse: you can use the same technique to find a pulse on the top of your foot and near the inner crease of your elbow. Its common for doctors to use the latter method to determine heart rate in children.

Understanding Your Target Heart Rate

How much Cardio Do I Need? How Much Cardio is Too Much?

Nearly all exercise is good. But to be sure youre getting the most fromyour workout yet staying at a level thats safe for you, you can monitorhow hard your heart is working.

Aiming for whats called a target heart rate can help you do this, says Johns Hopkins cardiologist Seth Martin, M.D., M.P.H. Think of it as the sweet spot between not exercising hard enough and overexerting.

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Warning Signs Of Heart Failure

By themselves, any one sign of heart failure may not be cause for alarm. But if you have more than one of these symptoms, even if you haven’t been diagnosed with any heart problems, report them to a healthcare professional and ask for an evaluation of your heart. Congestive heart failure is a type of heart failure which requires seeking timely medical attention, although sometimes the two terms are used interchangeably.

If you have been diagnosed with heart failure, it’s important for you to manage and keep track of symptoms and report any sudden changes to your healthcare team.

This table lists the most common signs and symptoms, explains why they occur and describes how to recognize them.

What Are The Different Training Zones

A heart rate training zone is a range that defines the intensity of your training. The upper and lower boundaries of each zone are calculated using your maximum heart rate which also depends on your age.

Moderate Activity : 50-60% of HRmax. This is the most comfortable training zone. It is primarily used to warm-up and to recover after a more intense zone. It strengthens your heart and improves muscle mass while it reduces body fat, cholesterol, blood pressure, and your risk for degenerative disease.

Weight Control : 60-70% of HRmax. This is the best zone for burning fat. It gives you all the benefits of the moderate activity zone but with increased intensity. 85% of calories burned in this zone are from fat.

Aerobic : 70-80% of HRmax. Aerobic exercise makes your lungs work harder as your bodys need for oxygen increases. This zone improves your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. It also increases the size and strength of your heart. More calories are burned in this zone but only 50% of the calories come from fat.

Anaerobic : 80-90% of HRmax. Training in this zone improves your athletic performance. Only 15% of the calories burned in this zone come from fat.

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How To Measure Different Kinds Of Heart Rate

There are four different heart rate measurements you should know about. They all have some place in monitoring health and fitness, but your resting heart rate and max heart rate are the two most important.

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What Is The Danger Zone

How to check your resting heart rate (aka your pulse)

A heart rate over 85 percent of your maximum pulse is considered the danger zone. Some of the characteristics include feeling like your heart is going to jump out of your chest and your legs feel like giving out. It gets very uncomfortable fast.

Working out at in this zone can put extra stress on your immune system if you are not careful. The extra stress on your body increases the number of catecholamines and cortisol, which decrease immune cells in your body. This puts you at risk for getting sick or unable to recover in a proper amount of time, especially if you are training for a race.

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How Do You Check Your Pulse

Checking your pulse to see if you are in atrial fibrillation is simple. Indeed, most of my patients can learn to tell within 10 seconds. All you have to do is find your pulse.

How you check your pulse doesntmatter. It can be on your wrist, neck, the temple of your head, or just about anywhere else you can feel your pulse.

If you feel your pulse about once per second, and it is regular, then you are probably in sinus rhythm. Atrial fibrillation typically has a fast and chaotic pulse. The heart rate is often faster than 100 beats per minute at rest, and every heartbeat is irregular.

Lowering Your Heart Rate

There are several ways you can do this to help your heart stay healthy:

Exercise. Physical activity strengths your heart just like other muscles in your body. It trains your heart to be more efficient so it doesnât work as hard when youâre at rest. A walk, bicycle ride, or yoga class can all help.

Quit smoking.Smoking causes your arteries and veins to get smaller. This can lead to a higher heart rate. Nixing tobacco products can bring your pulse down to a healthier level.

Relax.Stress can send hormones like adrenaline and cortisol racing through your blood, which can raise your heart rate. Things like meditation and yoga can help lower stress levels. Over the long term, they can lower your resting heart rate, too.

Eat more fish. A healthy diet is the cornerstone of heart health. In addition to fruits and vegetables, which are rich in vitamins and minerals, add fish to your menu. Eating it regularly can help lower your heart rate.

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Resting Heart Rate Is Just One Number

While resting heart rate can alert you to any changes in your hearts functioning, there are various factors involved in your risk for heart disease, including your family history as well as these lesser-known risks. With heart health, its important to talk with your doctor about the bigger picture more so than focusing on any single number, or getting caught up on what normal means for other people.

Your Maximum Heart Rate

What your heart rate can tell you about your health ...

The rate at which your heart is beating when it is working its hardest to meet your body’s oxygen needs is your maximum heart rate. Your maximum heart rate plays a major role in setting your aerobic capacitythe amount of oxygen you are able to consume. Several large observational studies have indicated that a high aerobic capacity is associated with a lower risk of heart attack and death. And a small controlled trial demonstrated that men and women with mild cognitive impairment who raised their aerobic capacity also improved their performance on tests of memory and reasoning.

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When Should I Take My Child’s Pulse

Usually, there’s no need to take your child’s pulse. Your doctor will check it during office visits.

Sometimes, though, a parent may need to take a pulse. You might do this if your child has:

  • a medical condition that requires you to monitor their heart rate. Your doctor will let you know if you need to do this, and if you should do it regularly or only on occasion. If you’re not sure, ask your doctor.
  • a skipping, pounding, or racing heart
  • chest pain
  • fast breathing

Go to the ER or call 911 right away if your child has any of the symptoms listed above and:

  • is hard to wake up
  • has trouble breathing. Look for muscles pulling in between the ribs or the nose puffing out with each breath.
  • has pale or grey skin, or blue lips

The 911 operator may ask you to take your child’s pulse and count the heart rate.

Keeping An Eye On Heart Rate

Having too high of a heart rate while running can be detrimental to your training. Keep an eye on your pulse to make sure you stay below your maximum heart rate, as determined by the formulas above. The easiest way to track your heart rate is with a fitness tracker or a GPS watch. If you are having problems with your heart rate continuously being too high, it is important to contact your doctor.

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Your Ekg Gives You A Thumbs

Next time you pop by your doctor’s office for an annual checkup, make sure you get an electrocardiogram . It’s not usually part of a physical unless you have symptoms of heart disease, but you can request one from your doctor.

This simple and painless test measures how long it takes an electrical wave to go through the heart, which lets you know if your heartbeat is normal, slow, fast or irregular. To get one you have to take your shirt off and then lie down on the table. Several sticky electrodes will be placed on your chest and on each arm and leg. Then those are attached by wire to the EKG machine and will track your heartbeat while you lie still for about a minute.

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How It Is Done

How to Figure Your Resting Heart Rate

You can measure your pulse rate anywhere an artery comes close to the skin, such as in your wrist or neck, temple area, groin, behind the knee, or top of your foot.

You can easily check your pulse on the inside of your wrist, below your thumb.

  • Gently place 2 fingers of your other hand on this artery.
  • Do not use your thumb because it has its own pulse that you may feel.
  • Count the beats for 30 seconds then double the result to get the number of beats per minute.

You can also check your pulse in the carotid artery. This is located in your neck, on either side of your windpipe. Be careful when checking your pulse in this location, especially if you are older than 65. If you press too hard, you may become lightheaded and fall.

You can buy an electronic pulse meter to automatically check your pulse in your finger, wrist, or chest. These devices are helpful if you have trouble measuring your pulse or if you wish to check your pulse while you exercise.

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What’s A Normal Heart Rate

Most adults have a resting heart rate between 60 and 100bpm.

The fitter you are, the lower your resting heart rate is likely to be. For example, athletes may have a resting heart rate of 40 to 60bpm, or lower.

See a GP to get checked if you think your heart rate is continuously above 120bpm or below 40bpm, although it may simply be that this is normal for you.

Visit the British Heart Foundation for more information on checking your pulse.

How To Check Your Heart Rate

According to the Harvard Medical School Special Health Report Diseases of the Heart, it’s easy to check your pulse using just your fingers, either at the wrist or the side of the neck.

  • At the wrist, lightly press the index and middle fingers of one hand on the opposite wrist, just below the base of the thumb.
  • At the neck, lightly press the side of the neck, just below your jawbone.
  • Count the number of beats in 15 seconds, and multiply by four. That’s your heart rate.

To get the most accurate reading, you may want to repeat a few times and use the average of the three values. For a resting heart rate measurement, you should also follow these steps:

  • Do not measure your heart rate within one to two hours after exercise or a stressful event. Your heart rate can stay elevated after strenuous activities.
  • Wait an hour after consuming caffeine, which can cause heart palpitations and make your heart rate rise.
  • Do not take the reading after you have been sitting or standing for a long period, which can affect your heart rate.

Various smartphone apps to check your heart rate are also available. For most of these, you place your finger on the phone’s camera lens, which then detects color changes in your finger each time your heart beats.

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When To See A Professional About Heart Rate

Certain medications or irregularities in your heart rate may warrant a visit to your doc. For example, many people on beta blockers are asked by their doctor to monitor and log heart rate. Keeping tabs on your heart rate can be helpful for your doctor when determining dosage or other treatment.

Additionally, if your pulse is very low, very high or switches frequently between the two, tell your doctor right away. Your pulse is an insightful tool into the status of your health and fitness level. Always check with a doctor before beginning an exercise program.

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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