Your pulse is the rate at which your heart beats per minute. Your resting pulse, or heart rate, is a strong indicator of your general health. The more fit you are, the lower your pulse.
Normal Male Heart Rates
The average resting heart rate in a male is 70 beats per minute. A better than average heart rate is in the 60s. An ideal resting pulse is in the 50s. If your pulse is above 82 beats per minute, your heart is not healthy.
Athlete Heart Rates
An athlete's resting pulse rate tends to be in the low 50s and a highly conditioned athlete's heart pulses in the 40s. Athletes also tend to have a phenomenon called sinus arrhythmia. Sinus arrhythmia is when the heart tends to speed up and slow down with breathing. Athletes can also sometimes have a benign murmur that comes from the power of their pulse which tends to be stronger than average. The power of a pulse has nothing to do with how many times per minute a heart beats, just the strength of the 'beat.' A powerful pulse in someone with a heart rate of under 60, is a positive sign. A powerful pulse in someone with a heart rate over 80 is a negative indicator that the heart is having to work too hard to pump blood through the body.
How to Take Your Pulse
When measuring your resting pulse you want to be sitting and relaxed. Find your pulse in your wrist using your fingers. Never use your thumb to measure your pulse as the thumb contains a pulse and will give an inaccurate measure. When you have found your pulse, take a few deep breaths, and wait for the minute hand on your clock to hit twelve. You need to count for at least 15 seconds; however, the most accurate count is one full minute.
Environmental Effects on Pulse
Many factors can influence pulse. Emotions such as joy and fear can raise the heart rate. Such spikes are usually benign, but someone with a fragile heart can have a heart attack due to shocking news or even a surprise. Weather affects the heart. Heat and humidity tend to raise heart rates, sometimes to dangerous levels, and cold and wind tend to lower heart rates. Most humans have a comfort zone somewhere in between the high 60s and lows 80s. Outside this range, heat and cold can start to impact health. Altitude lowers the normal pulse about a beat per minute per every thousand feet one climbs, meaning if you move from one elevation to another, your heart rate will change. A person with a weak heart would be more prone to altitude sickness and would want to acclimate at degrees instead of jumping from sea level to mountaintops.
Healthy Heart Tips
In order to obtain your optimum resting pulse, and have a good healthy heart, there are a few steps you can take to improve your heart's overall well being. If you smoke, stop. Smokers are twice as likely to have a heart a heart attack. Make exercise part of your routine. It is essential to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity in 4 to 5 days a week to give your heart the activity it needs to stay at optimum working level. What your diet and eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and multi-grains daily, avoiding saturated fats. Maintain a healthy weight and do what it takes to de-stress daily so that your body has a chance to unwind, replenish and restore.