Lesson 10: What is My Heart Rate?

I was lucky enough to have a stethoscope available so we started with each participant listening to their own heartbeat.   Since we didn’t have access to any heart rate monitors I taught them how to feel for the pulse on their neck, wrist, and even by just putting a hand over their chest. We talked about what our heartbeat sounded and felt like. We talked about the work our hearts were doing to pump blood through our bodies. Here are some video options that we found to help visualize what we were talking about.

Human Heart

How Does the Heart Work?

The next part of the lesson we did different physical activities and then checked to see how that affected our heart rate. First we did our warm-up and checked our heart rate every few minutes to see how it was beating harder and faster over time.   Next we did some aerobic activity with jumping jacks and high knees marching so that the heart rate was even more elevated and we could feel it beating hard and fast.   From there we brought our heart rates down a little by doing some body weight strength training only on our arms. By isolating our arms and keeping our feet planted we had a moderate heart rate because we weren’t moving our bigger leg muscles but keeping those still and only moving our smaller arm muscles. We did sets of 30 arm exercises repetitions where we had no added weight but concentrated on flexing our muscles. Exercises consisted of arm circles, starting with big rotations and then the size of a quarter, followed by some bicep curls, and triceps extensions with small movements extending arms straight behind with a locked elbow and squeezing inwards while lifting up, almost like you are trying to touch your hands behind your back with your elbows straight. We also did shoulder presses to work the muscles and flexibility in our shoulders by taking our hands from our shoulders with elbows in touching the rib cage and extending our arms straight up trying to keep our arms close to our ears.

After checking our heart rate again we did one more round of higher intensity aerobic exercise by dancing around moving both our arms and legs. We did step touches slow and then fast and moved our arms like we were swimming or running and then finished with fast feet like football players or MC Hammer (depending on your preference).   After taking a few moments to check heart rates again to see what it felt like at the higher intensity, we did a cool down and then some stretches with deep breathing and learned how cooling down and stretching was a safe way to bring our heart rate down back to normal versus just sitting down and having it drop too fast.