Your pulse rate or heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute. Knowing your pulse rate can give teenagers key information about their health and fitness level. A “normal” pulse rate or heart rate is actually a range rather than a specific number. Your heart rate depends on a number of contributing factors, including your age, activity level, and stress level. Temperature, strong emotions, your body position, and your weight can also affect your pulse rate.
According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, you can measure your pulse in a number of areas of your body where an artery passes close to the surface of your skin. Most people choose to measure their pulse at their wrist or on their neck. To measure at your wrist, place your index finger and middle finger on the underside of your opposite wrist below the base of your thumb. To measure at your neck, place your index finger and middle finger below your Adam’s apple in the soft, hollow area of your neck.
Regardless of the location, press firmly until you feel your pulse. Then count the number of beast for one minute, or count the number of beats for 30 seconds and then multiply your result by two. This number is your pulse rate. To determine your resting pulse, be sure to have been resting for at least 10 minutes. To determine your exercise heart rate, measure your pulse while exercising.
Do not use your thumb to measure your pulse rate, as you can also feel your pulse in your thumb and this will lead to an inaccurate measurement.
Values at Rest
The U.S. National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association report that 60 to 90 beats/minute is normal for teenagers at rest. This range is lower than the normal range for children and higher than that for adults and seniors.
Values During Moderate Exercise
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that your pulse rate during moderate exercise should be 50% to 70% of your maximum pulse rate (which is 220 beats/minute minus your age). Subtract your age from 220 and multiply by 0.5 and 0.7 to find the lower and higher pulse range for moderate exercise. For example, to figure out the pulse rate for a 16-year-old, the equations would look like this: 220 -16 = 204. 204_0.5 = 102 and 204_0.7=142.8. So the range would be 102 to 143 beats/minute with rounding for a 16-year-old.
Values During Intense Exercise
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that your pulse rate during intense exercise should be 70% to 85% of your maximum pulse rate (220 beats/minute). Subtract your age from 220 and multiply by 0.7 and 0.85 to find the lower and higher pulse range for intense exercise. For example, to figure out the pulse rate for a 16-year-old, the equations would look like this: 220 - 16 = 204. 204 0.7 = 142.8. 204 0.85 = 173.4. So the range would be 143 to 173 beats/minute with rounding for a 16-year-old.
According to the National Emergency Medical Association, knowing if your pulse rate deviates from your normal pulse rate can help you identify if you have a health condition. If it’s too fast, you could be experiencing tachycardia, you may have an infection, or you could be dehydrated. According to the American Heart Association, a teenager may have tachycardia if his resting heart rate is more than 90 beats/minute and if his exercising pulse rate exceeds 200 beats/minute.
If it’s too slow, you could be experiencing bradycardia, which can be dangerous if accompanied by low blood pressure. Symptoms of a low heart rate or pulse include loss of energy and fainting.
If you find your pulse usually matches one of these descriptions, consult with your physician.