Checking your pulse
You can tell if you have a regular or
irregular heart rate by checking your pulse. Your pulse may
increase during the day when doing your normal activities and when
you’re exercising. Your pulse is usually checked when you’re
resting, but measuring it after exercise can also help show how fit
Finding your pulse
The easiest places to find your
- Put one of your hands out so
you’re looking at your palm.
- Use the first finger (your index
finger) and middle finger of your other hand and place the pads of
these fingers on the inside of your wrist, at the base of your
- Press lightly and feel the
pulse. If you can’t feel anything press slightly harder or move
your fingers around until you feel your pulse.
- Press your index and middle
finger gently against the side of your neck, next to your
- Press lightly to feel your
pulse. You may need to move your fingers around if you can’t find
How to check your
Once you’ve found your pulse, continue
to feel it for about 20-30 seconds. Feel your pulse and check if
it’s regular or irregular. You
can work out your heart rate in beats per minute (bpm) by:
- counting the number of beats in
your pulse after 60 seconds, or
- counting the beats for 30
seconds and multiplying by two.
If your pulse feels irregular, you
should check for a full 60 seconds.
What should you
Your heart rate:
- Most adults have a resting heart rate
between 60 and 100 bpm
- Your heart rate may be lower if you do
lots of exercise and are very fit. Some athletes have heart rates
ranging from 40 to 60 bpm.
Your heart rhythm:
- Occasional irregularities such as
missed beats are very common and usually nothing
to worry about, but it is still best to check this with your
- An irregular pulse
could also be a sign of an arrhythmia
(an abnormal heart rhythm), such as Atrial
Fibrillation (AF). This is more likely if you are 65 or
If your pulse is irregular or
if you’re concerned in any way about your pulse you should make an
appointment to see your GP.
What does a regular heart rhythm sound like?
Listen to the example heart rhythms below to help you spot an
irregular heart beat: