• Scrap piece of paper
• Pen or pencil
• Clock or timer that shows seconds or a helper with a watch
• Comfortable exercise clothes (optional)
• Simple and fun exercise equipment, such as a jump rope, bicycle, hula-hoop, two-pound weight, etc. Alternatively you can do exercises that do not require equipment, such as walking, doing jumping jacks, jogging in place, etc. You will want to do at least two different types of exercises, both of which you can sustain for 15 minutes. (Remember to always stop an exercise if you feel faint.)
• Practice finding your pulse. Use the first two fingers of one hand to feel your radial pulse on the opposite wrist. You should find your radial pulse on the “thumb side” of your wrist, just below the base of your hand. Practice finding your pulse until you can do it quickly. (You can alternatively take your carotid pulse to do this activity, but be sure you know how to safely take it and press on your neck only very lightly with your fingers.)
• Measure your resting heart rate, which is your heart rate when you are awake but relaxed, such as when you have been lying still for several minutes. To do this, take your pulse when you have been resting and multiply the number of beats you count in 10 seconds by six. This will give you your resting heart rate in beats per minute (bpm). What is your resting heart rate? Write it on a scrap piece of paper.
• You will be measuring your heart rate during different types of physical exercises over a period of 15 minutes. Choose at least two different exercises. Some examples include jumping rope, lifting a two-pound weight, riding a bike, hula-hooping, walking, etc. Gather any needed materials. (If you want to make a homemade hula-hoop, steps for doing this are given in the activity Swiveling Science: Applying Physics to Hula-Hooping .) Do you think the activities will affect your heart rate differently? How do you think doing each activity will affect your heart rate?
• Choose which exercise you want to do first. Before starting it, make sure you have been resting for a few minutes so that your heart is at its resting heart rate.
• Perform the first exercise for 15 minutes. While you do this, write down the number of beats you count in 10 seconds after one, two, five, 10 and 15 minutes of activity. (You want to quickly check your pulse because it can start to slow within 15 seconds of stopping exercising.) How do the number of beats you count change over time? How did you feel by the end of the exercise?
• Calculate your heart rate after one, two, five, 10 and 15 minutes of exercise by multiplying the number of beats you counted (in 10 seconds) by six. How did your heart rate (in bpm) change over time?
• Repeat this process for at least one other exercise. Leave enough time between the exercises so that your heart rate returns to around its normal resting level (this should only take a few minutes). How did you feel by the end of the second exercise? How did your heart rate change over time for this exercise?
• Take a look at the results you wrote down for this activity. Which exercise increased your heart rate the most? Which exercise increased your heart rate the fastest? Which exercise(s) elevated your heart rate to the target heart rate zone (50 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate, where your maximum heart rate is 220 bpm minus your age)? Do you notice any consistent patterns in your results?
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