Intervals for Cardio


Resting Heart Rate

A person's heart rate is measured in pulse beats per minute.  The Resting Heart Rate is simply a person's heart rate at rest.  A normal resting heart rate ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute.  The resting heart rate will usually rise with age and it's generally lower in people with high fitness levels.  Individuals with high fitness levels, such as pro athletes can have a range as low as 40 to 60 beats per minute.  I had a friend in high school who was a skate boarder who skated almost everyday for hours on end which in turn got him in very fit.  There was a blood drive at our high school and he volunteered to donate blood.  When the nurse took his pulse it was 39 beats per minute and she couldn't believe it.  So she double checked his pulse again just to be sure, and sure enough it was 39 again.  This just goes to show you that you don't have to be a pro athlete to achieve a high fitness level.

Taking the Resting Heart Rate

The resting heart rate should be taken when you are relaxed and not after any type of physical activity even if you just went up one flight of stairs.  The slightest physical activity can raise your heart rate and give you an inaccurate reading.  The best time to take your resting heart rate is upon awaking in the morning after a good night's sleep.  If you want to take your heart rate during the day rather than first thing in the morning you should sit without activity for about 10 minutes and then take your heart rate.

To figure out your resting heart rate you need to take your pulse or have someone take it for you.  The pulse can be taken at many spots on the body but for this instance I will use the radial artery in the wrist which is commonly used.

Press your index and middle fingers on the radial artery in the wrist just below the thumb.  Don't press too lightly or too hard, just gradually apply pressure until you feel the pulse.  You will begin to feel a beating pulse if you are on the right spot. 

After finding the pulse in the wrist, relax and take a few deep breaths, then count the beat for 15 seconds.  Multiply the number of beats you counted within 15 seconds by 4 and this will be your heart rate.  So for example lets say that you counted 18 beats in 15 seconds, your heart rate would be 72 beats/minute (18 X 4 = 72).  To get a more accurate heart rate it is recommended that you count the beats for a whole minute.

Body Positioning

You can take your pulse sitting, lying down, or standing, however, sitting is the most preferred position.  Keep in mind that taking your pulse in different body positions will give you different results.  Your heart rate will be lower lying down than it will be sitting or standing.  Why?  There is less gravitational pull on the circulatory system when the body is in a horizontal position therefore making the heart's job easier.  When lying down the heart is at the same level of the head and extremities thus needing less pressure to circulate blood horizontally throughout the body.  When sitting or standing the heart needs more pressure to circulate blood vertically throughout the body.  Go ahead and take your heart rate lying down, sitting, and standing, and you will see the difference for yourself.