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What Should My Pulse Be - How to Check Your Pulse Rate - BPM Chart

  • Synopsis: Published: 2011-06-09 (Revised/Updated 2017-10-23) - Instructions on how to check your pulse rate (bpm) includes a normal beats per minute pulse rate charts for children and adults. For further information pertaining to this article contact: Ian Langtree at Disabled World.

Your pulse is defined as the rate at which your heart beats. Your pulse is usually called your heart rate, which is the number of times your heart beats each minute (bpm). The pulse may be palpated in any place that allows an artery to be compressed against a bone, such as at the neck (carotid artery), at the wrist (radial artery), behind the knee (popliteal artery), on the inside of the elbow (brachial artery), and near the ankle joint (posterior tibial artery). The pulse can also be measured by listening to the heart beat directly (auscultation), traditionally using a stethoscope. You check your pulse rate by counting the beats in a set period of time (at least 15 to 20 seconds) and multiplying that number to get the number of beats per minute.

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Quote: "You can measure your pulse rate anywhere an artery comes close to the skin, such as in your wrist, neck, temple area, groin, behind the knee, or top of your foot."

By checking your pulse, and comparing the resulting beats per minute (BPM) using the pulse rate chart below, you can find out how well your heart is working, as well as your general health and fitness levels.

Pulse rates vary from person to person. The normal pulse rate for humans is usually 60 to 100 beats per minute, however, there are certain medical conditions such as cardiac arrhythmia which may alter the normal pulse rate of an individual. Other influencing factors include your age, gender and fitness level.

How To Check Your Pulse Rate

Checking pulse rate on the wrist
About This Image: Checking pulse rate on the wrist
You can measure your pulse rate anywhere an artery comes close to the skin, such as in your wrist, neck, temple area, groin, behind the knee, or top of your foot.

  • Wrist

    You can check your pulse rate by placing tips of your index, second and third fingers on the palm side of your other wrist, below the base of the thumb or on your lower neck, on either side of your windpipe. Do not use your thumb because it has its own pulse that you may feel.

  • Carotid Artery

    This is located in your neck, on either side of your windpipe. Be careful when checking your pulse in this location, especially if you are older than 65. If you press too hard, you may become lightheaded and dizzy.

  • Heart Beat

    Your pulse can also be measured by listening to the heart beat directly (auscultation), traditionally using a stethoscope.

  • Pulse Meter

    Electronic pulse meters automatically check your pulse in your finger, wrist, or chest. These devices are helpful if you have trouble measuring your pulse or if you wish to check your pulse while you exercise. Some exercise machines such as treadmills have a pulse meter built into the device.

  • Beats Per Minute

    Count the beats for 15 seconds and multiply this number by 4 to get your pulse per minute. Checking your pulse rates when resting, during exercises or after it, provides general information about your overall fitness level.

Baby and Child Pulse Rate (BPM)
1st month of life - 70-190 bpm
Between 1 and 11 mths - 80-160 bpm
1 and 2 yrs - 80-130 bpm
3 and 4 yrs - 80-120 bpm
5 and 6 yrs - 75-115 bpm
Between 7 and 9 yrs - 70-110 bpm
10 years of age plus - 60-100 bpm


The chart below shows target heart rates for different ages. An adults maximum heart rate is around 220 bpm minus your age.

Average Pulse Rate for Adults
AgeTarget Heart Rate 50 - 85%Average Maximum Heart Rate 100%
20 years100-170 beats per minute200 beats per minute
30 yrs95-162 bpm190 bpm
35 yrs93-157 bpm185 bpm
40 yrs90-153 bpm180 bpm
45 yrs88-149 bpm175 bpm
50 yrs85-145 bpm170 bpm
55 yrs83-140 bpm165 bpm
60 yrs80-136 bpm160 bpm
65 yrs78-132 bpm155 bpm
70 yrs75-128 bpm150 bpm


  • Tachycardia

    Means the heart is beating too fast at rest (usually over 100 beats a minute (BPM))

  • Bradycardia

    A heart rate that is too slow (usually below 60 beats a minute(BPM))

  • Target Heart Rate

    You gain the most benefits and lessen the risks when you exercise in your target heart rate zone. Usually this is when your exercise heart rate (pulse) is 60 percent to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate - (Target Heart Rate Calculator and Chart)

  • Maximum Heart Rate

    The maximum heart rate is the highest your pulse rate can get. To calculate your predicted maximum heart rate, use the formula: 220 - Your Age = Predicted Maximum Heart Rate

It is recommended that a physician be consulted for advice in event of doubts or therapy.

Related Information:

  1. Routine Pulse Checks May Prevent Avoidable Death and Disability - A regular pulse check can save you from death disability and poor health arising from heart rhythm disorders.
  2. Blood Pressure Chart - Blood pressure chart showing high low and average blood pressure for adults Blood pressure refers to the pressure of the circulating blood as blood moves through arteries.
  3. Blood Type Chart: Facts & Information on Blood Group Types - Ian Langtree

Information from our Calculators & Charts: Health Weights & Measures section - (Full List).

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