Knowing your baseline heart rate can help you evaluate and monitor your cardiovascular health. According to the National Emergency Medical Association, factors such as emotional state, body temperature, stress and activity levels can affect heart rate. For these reasons, the American Heart Association recommends checking your heart rate by taking your pulse in the morning right after awakening. This measure, known as your resting heart rate, will let you determine a "baseline" heart rate to use when assessing your heart health and calculating your target and maximum heart rates during exercise.
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Place the tips of two or three fingers gently against the underside of your opposite wrist. An ideal spot is just below the wrist joint on the side closest to your thumb.
Press gently and move your fingertips carefully until you can feel the blood flowing in the vessels beneath your skin.
Count the number of beats, or pulses, you feel during 10 seconds. Use a watch or clock that measures seconds to ensure the timing of your count is accurate.
Multiply the number of beats you counted by six. This is your resting pulse, or baseline heart rate, which is measured in beats per minute.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- American Heart Association: Resting Heart Rate
- American Heart Association: Target Heart Rate
- Cleveland Clinic: Pulse and Target Heart Rate
- National Emergency Medicine Association: Heart Rate or Pulse
- American Heart Association: Heart and Stroke Encyclopedia
- Cleveland Clinic: Women and Abnormal Heart Beats
- Cleveland Clinic: Simple Clues to Your Heart