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Part of monitoring personal health is to know how to measure the heart rate at rest and while exercising. Learning to take a pulse reading at the wrist or neck can help determine whether the heart is healthy or not. For children, a normal resting heart rate should be between 70 and 100 beats per minute, and for adults, it should be between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Everyone’s heart is different, so resting heart rate can vary from person to person, but a healthy heart should be within the bounds mentioned above.

When the body is worked through physical exercise, the heart pumps blood faster in order to deliver the oxygen within the blood throughout the body. So naturally, a working heart rate will be much faster than normal, resting heart rate. The maximum heart rate for the body is the count of heart beats per minute when the body is working at it maximum capacity. To calculate an approximate healthy maximum heart rate, a useful formula is to multiply 220 by your age. Another helpful calculation is to find the target heart rate. This is another calculation that caters to each individual, so everyone’s target heart rate is different. Target heart rate is 60-80% of an individual’s maximum heart rate and is the most efficient rate at which to exercise while still challenging the body. The best way to exercise is to gradually build the intensity of the physical activity until target heart rate is reached—whether it’s a process that takes multiple workouts or just one that takes warming up before a workout.

Some simple exercises that can increase heart rate include the following:

Jumping Jacks. Doing jumping jacks for a minute or more will provide the heart with a healthy workout and increase the heart rate right away. Multiple repetitions will also benefit the heart and keep the heart rate going fast.
High Knees. These exercises also will work the heart when they are done at a quick pace without breaks. Repetitions are also encouraged for this exercise.
Stairs. Jogging up and down stairs will also provide a workout for the heart, as well as other muscles in the body.
Running, bicycling, swimming. All of these require an increase in heart beats and therefore are great exercises for increasing heart rate.

The most important fact about heart rate is to keep the beats per minute healthy by gradually increasing the work the heart must do. Beginning a lifestyle change with an intense workout is not nearly as beneficial to the body as gradually working up to the target rate of the heart.