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Knowing how to take your pulse is an important skill, not only for purposes of fat loss and exercise efficacy but also for health benefits. Case in point: A new study out of China indicates that a resting heart rate (RHR) above 80 beats per minute (BPM) could indicate a 45 percent greater possibility of premature death.
Your RHR indicates how efficiently your heart is pumping blood throughout your body, and the fewer heartbeats it takes to accomplish this task, the healthier and fitter you are. Normal RHR is between 60 and 100 BPM, according to the American Heart Association. For conditioned athletes, that can drop as low as 40 to 60 BPM, and in some cases even lower.
The two best places on your body to measure your pulse are at your wrist and on your neck. Follow the steps below to locate your pulse, and once you’ve found it, count how many times you feel your heartbeat in 15 seconds. Multiply this times 4 to get your BPM.
Your wrist (radial artery)
1. Hold one hand out with your palm facing upward and your elbow slightly bent.
2. Place the pads of your index and middle fingers of your other hand just inside your wrist, below the base of your thumb. Note: Do not use your thumb to take your pulse. It has its own large artery that can often confuse the radial pulse count.
3. Press lightly until you feel your pulse. You may need to move your fingers up and down until you find it.
4. Watch a clock or set your phone timer and count your heartbeat for 15 seconds.
Your neck (carotid artery)
1. Take your index and middle fingers and place them on the side of your neck between the windpipe and the large muscle of your neck.
2. Press lightly in the hollow area until you locate your pulse.
3. Watch a clock or set your phone timer and count your heartbeat for 15 seconds.
What’s your RHR?
To figure out your resting heart rate, take your pulse when you’re fully at rest. Best time: Right when you wake up in the morning and are relaxed.