Stroke Prevention Exercise Program (S-PEP) Taking Your Heart Rate

The Comprehensive Stroke and Rehabilitation Services programs at UW Hospital and Clinics have partnered to create a special exercise program for people who have had strokes. The Stroke Prevention Exercise Program or "S-PEP" has been designed to give you safe and fun exercise options to help prevent new strokes.


Checking Your Heart Rate


Woman checking her heart rate via the carotid arteryOne more way to tell how hard you are exercising (besides the Borg Scale) is to take your heart rate while exercising. Each person has a certain target heart rate zone to work within for moderate effort exercise.


Note: Checking heart rate is not a good way for all people to track how hard they are exercising.


Your physical or occupational therapist will tell you if this is a good way for you. If it is, they will also help you figure out your target heart rate zone. Look at S-PEP's Target Heart Rate Zone for details.


How To Do It


To check your heart rate while exercising, use your index and middle fingers on one hand to find your carotid artery on the side of your neck. It is just below your jaw and between your ear and your adam's apple. Gently press with your two fingers until you feel the beats.


Once you have found your carotid artery, count the number of beats in 15 seconds, then multiply the number of beats by four. This is the number of beats per minute.


Note: Review Signs of Exercising Too Hard and Exercise Safeguards before all workouts.