Wellness Wednesday – Heart Rates with Nurse Lauren
Hi there, Nurse Lauren here with your Wellness Wednesday tip! It’s February and this month we are going to talk all about your heart! Maybe your heart is beating fast thinking about your Valentine, but put down that box of chocolates because today we are going to talk about healthy heart rates. Let’s start with the basics. What is your heart rate? It’s the number of times your heart beats per minute (bpm.) For the average adult a normal, resting heart rate is anywhere between 60 and 100 beats a minute. Normal heart rates depend on your age. Your heart rate is considered a “vital sign.” Have you spent years watching medical dramas on TV? Then you have heard the phrase “take their vitals” before. Vital signs are measurements and indicators of the state of your body. Your “vitals” include: pulse rate, temperature, respiration rate, and blood pressure. You should calculate what your normal resting heart rate is. Once you know that number it is easier to figure out what your target heart rate should be when exercising.
What’s the difference between your heart rate and your pulse? Nothing! They are one in the same. Your pulse is the rate at which your heart beats which is why people take their pulse to measure their heart rate.
Now that you know your resting heart rate it will be easier the figure out what your target heart rate should be while you are exercising. When you exercise, your heart rate will increase. Depending on the level of intensity of your workout and your age, your target maximum heart rate will vary. It’s important to periodically check your heart rate while working out to see if you are overexerting yourself or if you could push yourself a little more. Your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. Calculate this first. During a moderately intense activity your heart rate should clock in about 50 – 69% of your maximum heart rate. During a strenuous, hard, physical workout, your heart rate should be 70% – 85% of your maximum heart rate.
Why is physical activity important? Exercise helps reduce your risk for cardiovascular diseases and some cancers. It strengthens your muscles and bones and can improve your mental health! Bottom line: Physical activity increases your chances of living a longer, healthier life. For more on all of the benefits of physical activity on your health check out the The Benefits of Physical Activity from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the American Heart Association, you should check your resting heart rate in bed in the morning after you have had a good night’s sleep. How to take your pulse: place the tips of your first two fingers inside your wrist on the same side as your thumb and lightly press over a vein on your wrist. Count the number of pulses you feel in 10 seconds and multiply by 6 to determine how many beats per minute. It is important to know your heart rate because knowing what is normal for you will help you determine if something is not normal.
What is the difference between heart rate and blood pressure? While your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute, your blood pressure is the force of your blood moving. Both are vital signs but different measurements. It is important to remember that just because your heart rate is increasing, it does not necessarily mean your blood pressure is increasing too.
Remember that many different factors that can be attributed to affecting your heart rate. We have discussed age and exercise but there are other circumstances that could change how fast your heart is pumping. The position your body is in, the temperature of a room, if you are stressed or having anxiety, and if you are taking certain medications are all reasons that could potentially affect your heart rate. You should concerned or see your doctor when your pulse is either extremely low or you are frequently having episodes of fast heart rates. If these episodes are making you faint, weak, or dizzy you should seek a professional’s opinion.
This is Nurse Lauren, contributor of NursesNOW, signing off with your Wellness Wednesday tip. Wishing you a happy, healthy, heart pumping Valentine’s Day today!