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A heart monitor readout is shown.Getty Images/iStockphoto

Let’s Talk Science and the Royal Society of Canada have partnered to provide Globe and Mail readers with relevant coverage about issues that affect us all – from education to the impact of leading-edge scientific discoveries. Let’s Talk Science offers a number of fun activities to get youth engaged in STEM.

Get active in this activity and explore the impact of exercise on your heart rate. Ready, set, GO!

What You Need

● Paper

● Pencil or pen

● Stopwatch

What to Do

  • Find your pulse on your neck. Try putting your fingers below your ear lobe and slowly moving down your jaw bone until you feel a pulse. Alternatively, find your Adam’s apple and gently feel on either side of it until you feel a pulse.
  • Using the stopwatch, count your heartbeats for 30 seconds. Multiply this number by 2 to get your heart rate (beats per minute). Record your heart rate on a piece of paper. A normal pulse rate for a healthy adult is from 60-100 beats per minute (bpm), while babies have pulse rates up to 120 bpm and children range from 80-160 bpm.
  • Now, do a quick walk around the room. Take your pulse again for 30 seconds. Multiply this number by 2 and record your new heart rate below your initial measurement. What do you notice about the two heart rates?”
  • Using the stopwatch, jog in place (or do some jumping jacks) for 30 seconds, then repeat your pulse measurement as before and record this new heart rate below your other two measurements. What has happened?

What’s happening?

A pulse is the movement of blood through arteries. When you take your pulse at your neck, you are feeling for the movement of blood through the carotid artery. When the heart beats, it sends blood into the arteries, stretching the walls of these vessels. Between beats, blood moves along and the arterial walls shrink back to their normal size. This stretching and shrinking with heart beats is what you feel when you take a pulse.

When you exercise, your muscles need more oxygen; therefore, your heart needs to pump more blood to supply them with oxygen. This is why you feel the pulse increase after exercising.

Why does it matter?

The heart is a muscle. Just like any other muscles, hearts need to be exercised in order to stay strong and healthy. Heart disease, known as cardiovascular disease to scientists and doctors, mainly affects older people and can involve problems with the heart and the blood vessels. However, being physically active now can help to prevent heart disease in the future!

Investigate further

● Take the pulse rate of members of your family. How are they similar and/or different?

Discover more free, English and French, Let’s Talk Science hands-on STEM activities, resources and events online.