A person’s heart rate, also known as their pulse, refers to how many times their heart beats per minute. Our heart rates vary tremendously, depending on the demands we make on our bodies – a person who is sleeping will have a much lower heart rate compared to when he/she is doing exercise.
There is a technical difference between heart rate and pulse, although they both should come up with the same number:
- Heart rate- how many times the heart beats in a unit of time, nearly always per minute. The number of contractions of the lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles).
- Pulse (pulse rate) – as the blood gushes through the artery from a heart beat, it creates a bulge in the artery. The rate at which the artery bulges can be measured by touching it with your fingers, as on the wrist or neck.
So what is your resting Heart Rate
For a human aged 18 or more years, a normal resting heart rate can be anything between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Usually the healthier or fitter you are, the lower your rate. A competitive athlete may have a resting heart rate as low as 40 beats per minute.
Champion cyclist, Lance Armstrong has had a resting heart rate of about 32 beats per minute (bpm). Fellow cyclist Miguel Indurain once had a resting heart rate of 29 bpm.
According to the NHS the following are ideal normal pulse rates at rest, in bpm (beats per minute):
- Newborn baby – 120 to 160
- Baby aged from 1 to 12 months – 80 to 140
- Baby/toddler aged from 1 to 2 years – 80 to 130
- Toddler/young child aged 2 to 6 years – 75 to 120
- Child aged 7 to 12 years – 75 to 110
- Adult aged 18+ years – 60 to 100
- Adult athlete – 40 to 60
Measuring your own Heart Rate
Although their are numerous areas you can measure your Heart Rate these are the two most common -
- The wrist (the radial artery) – place the palm of your hand facing upward. Place two fingers on the thumb side of your wrist gently, you will sense your pulse beating there. Either count them for up to one minute, or thirty seconds and then multiply by two. Counting for 15 seconds and then multiplying by four is less accurate. It is also possible to test the pulse by touching the other side of the wrist, where the ulnar artery is.
- The neck (the carotid artery) – place the index and third fingers on the neck, next to your windpipe. When you feel your pulse, either count for the whole sixty seconds, or do it in a 30 or 15 second spell and multiply by two or four.
Although aerobic exercise can include bicycling, swimming, jogging, and aerobic classes, walking may be one of the best activities. That’s because you can do it anywhere, and you need little equipment outside of a good pair of shoes.
Numerous studies have found that walking offers tremendous cardiac benefits. It helps people improve their fitness levels and endurance capacity, and it burns calories to aid in weight loss. Walking can lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol levels and your body’s ability to handle glucose or sugar, and reduce your risk of diabetes.
Aim to do 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise at least five days a week, or 20 minutes of vigorous activity three times a week. Moderate-intensity exercise is seen as the equivalent of a brisk walk, as if you have someplace to go, while vigorous exercise is even faster walking. If you’re starting an exercise program, just avoid doing vigorous activity until you’ve been exercising for a few months. The same goes for people with existing heart problems: Unless you have your doctor’s or nurses okay, stick with moderate-intensity regimes.
If 30 minutes sounds too daunting at first, you can get the same benefits by doing three 10-minute bouts each day. For instance, maybe you walk your dog for 10 minutes in the morning, take a 10-minute stroll at lunch, and walk for another 10 minutes after dinner.
Strength training will not replace aerobic exercise but compliments and boosts muscular strength and endurance; helps your body handle blood sugars; reduces blood pressure; and increases lean body mass, which can help prevent weight gain. Because you’re losing lean body mass, which burns more calories than fat, you gain weight. However, when you do strength training, you maintain lean body mass and prevent weight gain.
Do strength training for your entire body twice a week, completing one set of eight to 12 repetitions for each muscle group. As you progress, increase to two or three sets. If you’re not sure where to start, work with a certified personal trainer for one or two sessions, or buy an instructional DVD or book. If the Gym is a local council run gym they are certified to help you make decisions, even better apply to join a Healthy Lifetsyle Team monitored event.
Pair your strength training and aerobic activities with a heart-friendly diet and you’ll be well on your way to building a stronger, healthier heart.
Always consult your Doctor or Heart Failure Nurse if you are doing strength training and if you have been sedentary for awhile, check with your Doctor or Heart Failure Nurse before starting any exercise regime.