Taking your pulse will give you your heart rate, which is the number of times your heart beats in one minute. You can find your pulse on your wrist, neck, elbow or even the top of your foot. The easiest place to check your pulse is your wrist or neck.
You can find your pulse on your wrist, neck, elbow or even the top of your foot. But the easiest place for taking your pulse is your wrist. Follow these steps:
The steps to finding your pulse on your neck are slightly different:
You can also count the beats for 10 seconds and use this formula:
Count your pulse: _____ beats in 10 seconds x 6 = _____ beats per minute
For the average adult at rest, the normal pulse rate is usually between 60 and 100 bpm.
The more active and fit you are, the lower your average resting heart rate. Athletes tend to have lower resting heart rates than non-athletes.
Average heart rates at rest based on age:
During physical activity, your pulse rate should be between 50% to 70% of your maximum heart rate.
You can calculate your maximum heart rate using this formula:
220 – your age = predicted maximum heart rate
For example, a 30-year-old’s predicted maximum heart rate is 190 bpm (220 – 30 = 190). Using this maximum heart rate, a normal pulse rate during exercise would be between 95 to 133 bpm.
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It’s normal to have occasional irregular heartbeats or notice missed beats. If it happens often or causes you significant symptoms like shortness of breath, dizziness or chest pain, talk to your healthcare provider.
Bradycardia is the term for a low heart rate, which is anything under 60 bpm. If you’re an athlete, a low heart rate doesn’t pose a health risk. It is normal for your heart rate to slow down when you're sleeping. Also, medications such as beta blockers can lower your heart rate.
But make an appointment with your healthcare provider if you have a low heart rate along with these symptoms:
There are a few factors that can change your heart rate, including:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Learning how to take your own pulse can help you monitor your heart health over time. The easiest and most reliable way to find your heart rate is to count your pulses for 30 to 60 seconds on your wrist. Do this regularly as a quick, simple way to keep tabs on your health.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/30/2022.
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