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Heart Rate Roundup


Measure your heart rate before and after physical activity to learn why your heart beats faster during exercise.


Timer, pencil & paper, stool, jump rope (optional)


Cardiovascular exercise increases your heart rate in order to supply your muscles with the additional oxygen they need to function at a high level (and to remove waste products produced during elevated aerobic respiration). Participating in cardiovascular activities for 20 minutes a day, three times a week, can increase your heart's efficiency and overall health.


Have students calculate their resting heart rate in beats per minute (bpm) by counting your pulse for 15 seconds then multiplying by 4. Break students into small groups and give each group a different activity to complete. Activities like running in place, jumping rope, push-ups, walking, and jumping jacks are all great. Make sure some activities are strenuous and others are easy.

Each student in the group should complete the activity for 60 seconds then calculate their heart rate. Each student should subtract the resting heart rate from the active heart rate, then find the average heart rate difference for their group. Compare the average heart rate differences between the groups to determine which activity got the students' hearts pumping the fastest.


  • Your maximum safe heart rate can be estimated by subtracting your age from 220. The most exercise benefits (and fewest risks) are gained when your active heart rate is 60-80% of your maximum heart rate.
  • Which activity raised heart rates the most? What other activities would increase heart rate?

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