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Your pulse rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute. And while pulse rates vary from person to person, they are influenced by factors such as age and fitness level. There is also a slight difference in rates by gender, as men tend to have a slightly lower resting and maximum heart rate than women. Your pulse rate is an excellent indicator of your overall heart health 3. In fact, according to a New England Journal of Medicine study, men with an abnormally high resting heart rate of more than 75 beats per minute are three times more likely to die of a heart attack or experience other heart ailments.
You can measure your pulse by placing two fingers on the artery in your inner wrist or the side of your neck, next to your windpipe. Count the number of beats in 15 seconds and then multiply the number by four in order to get the number of beats per minute. Never use your thumb to measure your pulse rate, as it has its own strong pulse. Instead, use your index and middle fingers for more accurate results. You can also use a wrist watch to monitor heart rate as well as a wrist pulse monitor.
Your resting heart rate is your heart rate while at rest or sitting still. According to the American Heart Association, the best time to check your resting pulse rate is right before you get out of bed in the morning 2. The normal rate for an adult male is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. For an endurance athlete, the resting heart rate will typically be lower, indicating a more efficient heart function.
Maximum Heart Rate
A man can calculate his maximum heart rate by subtracting his age from the number 220, while women should subtract it from 226. This number indicates the maximum rate that your heart can withstand during physical activity. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should aim for a target rate of 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate during vigorous exercise 1. That means that a 40-year-old man would have a maximum heart rate of 180 beats per minute, and that during aerobic exercise his target heart rate should rise to about 144 beats per minute. Meanwhile, a 20-year-old man’s target rate would be higher, at about 160.
Measuring your resting pulse rate is one of the best predictors of longevity. Men with a lower resting rate are much less likely to die of a heart attack and tend to be healthier in general. Men’s Health magazine suggests that one of the best ways to lower your resting heart rate is to mix high-intensity and low-intensity exercise 3. For example, sprint for five minutes, and then jog slowly for the next five minutes. Repeat this pattern until you are tired. If you have other heart ailments, like hypertension, consult your doctor for any necessary modifications.
The range of “normal” pulse rates varies greatly for many reasons, including genetics. Usually, having a heart rate slightly higher or lower than the average is nothing to worry about. However, there are several diagnosable heart-rate abnormalities. One is arrhythmia, which is an irregular rhythm in the heart, while another is tachycardia, defined as a resting heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute.