Introduce the concept of a pulse by stating that a healthy heart should take less than 60 seconds for circulation to occur. Complete the Pulse Activity to show students how long it takes for the heart to pump blood through the body.


1. Explain to students that a pulse can be calculated by determining the number of times a heart beats in one minute.

2. Have students feel their pulse on their wrist or on their neck at the baseline of their jaw using the tips of the index and middle finger. Note: Do not use the thumb because it has its own pulse.

3. Starting at the same time, have them count to themselves the number of beats for 15 seconds and multiply that amount by four. Have students record their pulse.

4. Take the average of the class’s pulse and compare it to the average for children their age:

Ages 1-10 70-120 beats per minute

Ages 10 and up 60-100 beats per minute

*Note: You may want to review the concept of ranges with students.

5. For the next ten minutes, have students engage in a game or activity that gets them moving around (i.e., have them run in place, do jumping jacks next to their desks). Have students record their pulse.

6. After ten minutes of physical activity, have them re-take their pulses.

7. Take the average of the class’s pulse and write it on the board again.

8. Discuss the following questions with the class. What happened to your pulse the second time in comparison to the first time? What does this tell you about the heart as it relates to doing high energy activities?


(Example Beats/Minute)


Pulse (before activity)


Class average

(before activity)


Pulse (after activity)


Class average

(after activity)


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