Exploring sport online: Athletes and efficient hearts
Exploring sport online: Athletes and efficient hearts

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Exploring sport online: Athletes and efficient hearts

4.3 Measuring your heart rate

The most common way of measuring heart rate is by feeling the pulse at one of the arteries. The pulse is quite literally that – a pulse of blood running through the artery each time the heart does one pumping motion.

Figure 6
Figure 6 The two positions at which you can measure a pulse

Activity 4: Measuring your pulse: what you need to do

Can you measure your own pulse? The heart rate is measured in the number of heart beats per minute. First, find a watch or clock? You can use the clock that shows on the desktop of most computers. To use it, double-click on the clock to open it so that you can see the second hand. Now put your fingers on your wrist as shown in Figure 6. If you can feel your pulse there, count how many times the artery pulses for thirty seconds, then double this number to find your own heart rate.

Discussion

Some people have trouble finding the pulse in their wrist, so don’t worry if you can’t find it easily. Another simple place to feel the pulse is at the neck, as shown in the second photograph. If you can’t find the pulse at your wrist, try at the neck. You might have to push a little to feel it strongly, but you should be able to find it.

Ask someone else to check their pulse. How does your pulse compare to theirs?

The national average for heart rate should be about 75 beats per minute. How does your pulse compare with this? Don't worry if yours is different from the national average. Your heart rate might be higher or lower than this average because you have had a busy day, are sitting up, have just eaten, have a cold, are hot or a whole range of other reasons. Try taking it again perhaps first thing in the morning before you get up. If you are concerned about your heart rate, you should seek medical advice.

Y164_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has over 40 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus