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Checking Your Heart Rate (Pulse)

    To obtain a resting heart rate (pulse), sit quietly for 5 minutes. Then place your index and middle fingers on your wrist, as shown.

    It takes practice to find and count your pulse accurately – so be patient!Count the pulse beats for 10 seconds and multiply by 6, or count for 30 seconds and multiply by 2. Record that number and the date on your exercise log or note.Monitoring the pulse will tell you how hard your heart is working while you are exercising. With many people the heart rate is a very good guide to the intensity of exercise you can safely do. However, if you have heart failure, atrial fibrillation, a fixed or rate responsive pacemaker – only use the rate of perceived exertion scale and not your pulse rate. In addition, some medications, such as beta-blockers, affect the heart rate, thus it is more important to use the rate of perceived exertion scale (vs. the heart rate) to monitor exercise intensity.

    For More Information

    In the early recovery period, your heart rate should not go higher than 20 beats above your average resting heart rate unless specified otherwise. After the recovery period to increase your exercise progress, obtain further direction from your physician or from the cardiac rehabilitation program staff.

    Note: 20 beats above the resting heart rate is not the target heart rate for exercise, but the upper limit of a safe range for most people in the early recovery period. Your physician may modify this heart rate guideline. If you want help learning how to take your heart rate, ask the medical staff to teach you how to take your pulse.

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