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Racing heart

By Pat, 11 February 2013 Activity

You'll need these materials

You’ll need these materials

Does exercise get your heart racing? grab a stopwatch and measure the difference!

You will need

  • Stopwatch
  • Flight of stairs

What to do

  1. Use your index and middle fingers to find your pulse in your neck. You can feel your pulse just under the back of your jawbone.
  2. When you have found your pulse, count the number of beats in 10 seconds. Use the stopwatch to keep time.
  3. Multiply the number of beats by six, to obtain your resting heart rate in beats per minute.
  4. Walk (don’t run!) up and down the stairs a few times, until you start to breathe a bit faster and feel a little tired. Immediately repeat steps 2 and 3.
  5. Keep walking up and down the stairs for a few more minutes. Take your pulse again. What happens to your heart rate?
    Use your middle and index fingers to find your pulse.

    Use your middle and index fingers to find your pulse.

What’s happening?

Blood is important for transporting oxygen around the body. The circulatory system is responsible for ensuring blood gets to where it is needed around the body. Muscles surrounding the circulatory system squeeze the blood along in a steady beat. This is what you feel as your pulse. Your pulse beats in time with your heart, which is the main pump for moving blood around the body.

When you exert your body, such as by climbing stairs, your cells require more oxygen for the biochemical reactions that provide the energy to do this extra work. The heart beats faster to get more oxygen around your body. This is why your heart rate increases while climbing stairs.

Measure your heart rate by counting the number of beats in 10 seconds and multiplying by six.

Measure your heart rate by counting the number of beats in 10 seconds and multiplying by six.

Our emotions can also affect our heart rate: when we are stressed our heart rate increases, while when we are relaxed it slows down. Some drugs also affect heart rate – for example, the caffeine in the tea and coffee can cause an increase in heart rate.

Applications

Heart rate is often linked to your general health and fitness. If your heart rate is too slow or too fast, it might mean you are sick. Problems with the pulse could indicate a problem with the heart, so the pulse is often monitored during medical emergencies.

People with high levels of fitness have more efficient hearts, meaning they tend to have lower resting heart rates.

Walk up and down the stairs a few times. Measure your heart rate again. Keep walking, then measure your heart rate a third time.

Walk up and down the stairs a few times. Measure your heart rate again. Keep walking, then measure your heart rate a third time.

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