Resource 2: Experiments on pulse rate

Background information / subject knowledge for teacher

Practical hints on measuring pulse rate

Investigating the effect of exercise on heart rate/pulse rate

You can find out how fast your heart is beating, that is your heart rate, by feeling your pulse. The wave of pressure which passes down an artery as a result of each heart beat is felt as a pulse when an artery is near the surface of the body and runs over a bone.

Finding the pulse

You can find the pulse in your wrist by turning your hand palm-side up. Gently place the middle and index finger of your other hand on the inside of the wrist at the base of the thumb. Press your fingers down in the groove between your middle tendons and your outside bone.

Do not use your thumb to feel the pulse as it has a pulse of its own.

You can also use a pulse in your neck region. To find this pulse, place your fingers gently on one side of your neck, below your jawbone and halfway between your main neck muscles and windpipe.

Do not press too hard when measuring your pulse.

Extension investigation on the effect of exercise on heart rate/pulse rate

For an extra investigation, some groups could choose one pupil to be the subject. The subject should then do two minutes of exercise again. Their pulse rate is measured immediately after this as before and then at one minute intervals until the pulse rate has returned to the resting rate. The fitter a person is the quicker the rate will return to normal.

Resource 1: Making Science relevant

Resource 3: Data on the effect of exercise