According to Medline Plus, from the National Library of Medicine in the National Institutes of Health, pulse rate is the number of beats per minute. Other terms for the pulse rate are the heart rate or heart beat. A 40-year-old woman may be interested in knowing a normal pulse rate so that she can evaluate and monitor her own pulse rate.
The resting pulse rate is how many times your heart beats in a minute when you have been quietly resting for at least 10 minutes. The best time is in the morning after waking up, before getting out of bed. You can measure your resting pulse rate where an artery is near the skin's surface, such as the neck, wrist, or temple. Individuals have their own normal resting pulse rates, and according to Medline Plus, the normal range for a 40-year-old woman is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Well-trained athletes might have a pulse rate between 40 and 60 beats per minute.
Your maximum pulse rate is the fastest your heart can beat when you are at maximum exertion. You can find your maximum pulse rate by doing a maximal test. You can do this in a distance race, such as a 5K, or on a treadmill supervised by a physician.
The American Council on Exercise states that you can use pulse rate to guide your exercise program, since your heart must always be beating at the appropriate speed to deliver the necessary amount of oxygen to your working muscles. For most people, the pulse rate is between 50 and 80 percent of the maximum during aerobic exercise. A 40-year-old woman with a maximum rate of 180 beats per minute would need to maintain her pulse rate between 90 and 144 beats per minute during aerobic exercise.
Sometimes it is not possible to take your pulse rate during exercise. If that is the case, you can use the talk test for aerobic exercise. The American Heart Association says that you should be able to talk during aerobic exercise, but that if you can sing, you are not working hard enough. If you cannot talk, you are working too hard. If you cannot do a maximum pulse rate test, the American Council on Exercise suggests that you estimate your maximum heart rate using the equation 220 minus age. From this equation, a 40-year-old women would expect to have a maximum pulse rate of 220 minus 40, or 180 beats per minute.
A 40-year-old woman experiences variations in her pulse rate for a variety of reasons. Resting heart rate might increase at higher altitudes or with an infection. During exercise, heat or dehydration can elevate the pulse. Pulse rate during exercise might also change over time. As a woman gets in better shape, her pulse rate at the same exercise intensity might drop, making pulse a good way to monitor fitness.