Your pulse rate

Your resting pulse rate is measured by most blood pressure monitors, or you can do it yourself by counting the beats in your wrist or neck against the second hand of your watch
Feeling pulseDo you know your pulse rate?

What you need to know is the number of beats per minute. Generally the lower it is, the fitter you are - unless you have a pacemaker or heart disease.

Pulse rate fluctuations

Your pulse rises to meet the demands of activity, then recovers as you rest. The degree of increase and decrease in pulse, and the speed of recovery increases as you get fitter.

You can calculate the optimum rise duringexercise, and use a pulse monitor to maintain that level during your exercise spells and check your rate of recovery as you rest afterwards. Try recording your 'activity pulse' immediately after you complete your exercise, then your recovery pulse' two minutes later.

The difference between the two figures is a measure of your recovery rate. You can monitor your progress towards fitness by recording your recovery rates after the same spell of exercise each day.

If you set the level of your daily activity according to your pulse, you will gradually do more and get fitter quite safely with each exercise session - three 30-minute spells per week are sufficient.

You will quickly see improvements in your body fat and blood pressure measurement, and recovery of your pulse to resting levels.

So what are 'normal' pulse rates?

The average resting heart rate for an adult is between 60 and 100 beats per minute, while well-conditioned athletes can achieve between 40 and 60 beats per minute. The maximum pulse rate is 220 minus your age, and the target for a healthy pulse rate during, or just after, exercise, is 60-80 per cent of this.

Therefore, if you are aged 50, you should aim to build up fitness gradually until you reach a target pulse rate during exercise of between 102-136 bpm (beats per minute).

If you are aged 55, your target should be between 99-132 bpm, age 60 = 96-128 bpm, age 65 = 93-124bpm, age 70 = 90-120 bpm, and age 75 = 87-116 bpm.

Keeping track of your pulse rate

If you keep track of how long it takes for your pulse rate during exercise to return to its normal resting rate, within four weeks of starting regular exercise your efforts should be rewarded with a noticeable reduction in recovery time.

However, the target rates given are only guidelines, as your pulse rate may be affected by other factors such as medication, pacemakers or certain forms of heart disease.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.


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  • veer singh

    Posted: Monday 06 January 2014

    I read many blogs but I could not satisfy. I want such blog as gives me sufficient information about the wrist blood pressure monitor for me. And I got your blog, your blog is so good. And I am am very impressed with this blog thanks to you. For posting this blog.

  • kim garritley

    Posted: Sunday 05 January 2014

    just took my pulse and it 80 bpm im 55 is this normal my heart is beating quite fast

  • kim garritley

    Posted: Sunday 05 January 2014

    just took my pulse and it 80 bpm im 55 is this normal my heart is beating quite fast

  • Steve Robertson

    Posted: Sunday 29 December 2013

    my pulse rate when resting is at 95, I am 59 years old.

  • Billy Carson

    Posted: Saturday 12 October 2013

    I am 72 this month and I've noticed my heart rate is around 90 while resting and it was around 72 to 75 a couple of months ago, I have promblems doing much excerise because of hip and knee problems but I try and walk 2 to 3 times a week 4 to 8 blocks at a time. Am I doing enough?

  • Troy Sanderson

    Posted: Friday 26 July 2013

    Iam 62 years old male my pluse rate is 115bpm should I be worried.

  • Marlene Halfyard

    Posted: Friday 28 June 2013

    I am female and 65 years old. I have felt unwell recently and feel as though I want to yawn constantly and am sometimes unable to. I have a blood pressure monitor and my heart rate is between 48 and 51 when resting. I take beta blockers and water tablets for my blood pressure. Is my hear rate normal?

  • hazel piner

    Posted: Friday 26 April 2013

    article very interesting. I am 71 years old female, fit a bit overweight, have lately been suffering mild dizziness, and ligthheadedness, and slight neck pain. Right side. blood pressure is good to fair. Any ideas any one. Walk regularly without difficulty.

  • gene

    Posted: Saturday 20 April 2013

    I am 72 year old male. Lately my pulse rate has been over 100 at rest. What could cause this?

  • Claire

    Posted: Monday 08 April 2013

    I am 40 and for a few months now i can feel my heart racing when i have done my pulse it has been 120 + but it seems to be getting a regular thing (every day on and of) is this normal.

  • KC

    Posted: Tuesday 26 March 2013

    I've just taken my BP and HR and they are 98/65 and 55 respectively. I'm 21, female and fairly athletic, exercising at least 4 times a week. Is my BP too low?

  • john donoghue

    Posted: Wednesday 20 March 2013

    i am a 65 year old male. at a recent health check my pulse rate was given as 48 alongside blood pressure of172/ this abnormal and should i be worried

  • Shaun

    Posted: Saturday 09 March 2013

    My pulse is currently at130bpm. I am feeling a bit under the weather. Should I be worried??

  • karen campbell

    Posted: Friday 08 March 2013

    After a year of dizzy, nearly fainting,shortness of breath and general exhaustion, i am now having a ecocardigram and a 24 hour monitor test as after activity at a hospital visit showed my pulse rate to be 41.. my mum has a leaky valve & my nan had a pacemaker aged 76. I am only 45.. I've been told to take it easy till i'm sorted, should i be worried?

  • Chic Stanger

    Posted: Monday 24 December 2012

    I am 55 just started to go gym after 14 years my pulse rate was 32 after ten mins on the bike is that normal and I did 20 mts in the pool under water .

  • Patricia bainbridge

    Posted: Wednesday 14 November 2012

    I am 62 and my pulse rate is 72 when resting

  • Thomas junior

    Posted: Tuesday 09 October 2012

    Hi ther my name is Thomas could you tell me what my pulse should be per minute I am 28 and my pulse lying down relaxing is 115 a minute.thank you

  • simon

    Posted: Wednesday 05 September 2012

    Your picture is not appropriate. The thumb has a pulse itself and the fingers/fingertips should be used when measuring a pulse at the wrist.

  • gladflower

    Posted: Sunday 19 August 2012

    I am 73 years old and resting pulse rate of 45-49 I walk for excerise...

  • Mary the man eater

    Posted: Friday 01 June 2012


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