Your Pulse: How to Take Your Own Pulse Easily

Measuring your pulse can help diagnose cardiovascular diseases early. Also, it is a simple procedure that can be done on different parts of the body. How is it done?
Your Pulse: How to Take Your Own Pulse Easily

Written by Carmen Martín

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Taking your pulse is a very useful procedure that allows you to find out your heart rate. Additionally, it can help you better understand the regularity of your heart rate. It’s a very simple way to get more information about your cardiovascular function.

The pulse refers to a series of pulsations that can be felt in some parts of the body. This is because of the contraction and dilation movements of both the heart and the arteries.

The pulse is synonymous with heart rate and is normally expressed in beats per minute. For example, if you measure a person’s pulse for 60 seconds and you count 70 beats, it means that the heart beats 70 times in one minute.

Although taking your pulse is an essential procedure to quickly diagnose a possible heart problem, many people do not know what it is or how to do it. Therefore, you’ll learn all about the heart rate and how to take your pulse in the following article.

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What is the purpose of measuring your pulse?

Doctor taking the pulse of a patient take your pulse

Measuring the pulse is useful for detecting abnormalities in the heart rate, among other things.

Measuring the pulse has many uses since it informs you of the number of beats that your heart performs per unit time (normally, per minute). A normal pulse is between 60 and 100 beats per minute.

First, measuring your pulse can help you detect tachycardia or bradycardia. Tachycardia is when the heart beats faster than 100 beats per minute. Bradycardia, on the other hand, is when the heart beats at less than 60 beats per minute.

Both tachycardia and bradycardia may be indicative that something is not working correctly in your cardiovascular system. Exceeding any of these limits can mean a certain risk for our hearts.

However, most of the time these are normal situations the heart has to adapt to in order to keep up the supply of blood to all the organs and tissues of the body.

For example, while exercising, it’s totally normal to take your pulse and find that you’re in tachycardia. Also, the heart can even suffer from tachycardia in situations of fear, high stress, or danger. Similarly, people who exercise daily tend to have lower resting heart rates. Some athletes can have resting heart rates as slow as 40 beats per minute, without it being indicative of any disease or syndrome.

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So, why should you take your pulse?

First of all, this information can lead you to think that taking your pulse can be useful to check your physical state and progress when exercising. Secondly, you will also be more aware of the limits you face during a workout.

Furthermore, you mustn’t forget that taking your pulse can help you reach an early diagnosis of any illness you may unknowingly suffer from. This is the case, for example, in some serious and more extreme situations, such as an aortic dissection. The simple act of taking your pulse could actually help you to detect it in time and may even save your life.

How do you learn to measure your pulse?

How do you learn to measure your pulse

Pulse can be measured in different parts of the body. However, it’s best to do it on the neck, since it is the area where you can feel it best.

To measure your pulse under normal conditions, ideally, you should be calm and relaxed, without having previously exercised. This way, you can find your resting heart rate.

You may perform this procedure on different parts of the body but the common way is to take your pulse on your neck or wrist. In fact, when first starting to take your pulse, it’s best to do it on your neck, where you can feel it the strongest.

First of all, you need a stopwatch. You can use a watch or your mobile phone. Once you have your stopwatch ready, follow these steps carefully.

  1. Place your index and middle fingers under your chin, on your neck. You should press lightly in that area until you feel your heartbeat. However, you shouldn’t press too hard either, as you could get a false result.
  2. Once you have found your pulse and you can feel each pulsation clearly, start your stopwatch and start counting. You can keep your fingers there counting the beats for one minute or 30 seconds. If you choose this last option, you must multiply the total number of beats you have counted by two.

As you have already read, if the result is between 60 and 100 pulsations at rest, it’s within the normal limits. However, if your heartbeat exceeds 100 beats per minute or you notice any irregularity in the rhythm, consult a doctor as soon as possible.

In conclusion

Measuring your pulse is a very simple procedure that serves many purposes in your daily life. For example, it can help show you you’re working out hard enough to raise your heart rate substantially. You can take your pulse on your wrist, neck, abdomen, etc.

If you have any problem doing so, you can purchase a heart rate monitor. Don’t forget to consult your doctor if you notice any abnormality or if your heartbeat is usually above average at rest.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Pickering D. How to measure the pulse. Community Eye Health. 2013;26(82):37.
  • Kobayashi H. Effect of measurement duration on accuracy of pulse-counting. Ergonomics. 2013;56(12):1940–1944. doi:10.1080/00140139.2013.84074
  • Aprende a tomarte el pulso | CardioSalud. (n.d.). Retrieved September 14, 2019, from
  • Ghasemzadeh N, Zafari AM. A brief journey into the history of the arterial pulse. Cardiol Res Pract. 2011;2011:164832. doi:10.4061/2011/164832

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.