Pulse Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:04 Thump, Thump, Thump
  • 0:44 Keeping the Beat
  • 1:35 What's My Rate?
  • 2:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lindsy Frazer

Dr. Frazer has taught several college level Science courses and has a master's degree in Human Biology and a PhD in Library and Information Science.

Lub. Dub. Thump. Thump. These are the sounds we think of when we imagine our hearts beating. We can't hear our hearts beat, but we can feel it by taking our pulse. Let's learn what a pulse is, how you can measure it, and what your pulse tells you about how hard your heart is working.

Thump, Thump, Thump

Stick your left hand out in front of you like you're asking for some candy. Now place the first two fingers of your right hand on your left wrist, just under your thumb. Press down gently. You should feel a thump, thump, thumping under your fingers!

You can feel your pulse by placing two fingers on the inside of your wrist under your thumb and pressing down.

What you are feeling is your pulse, the movement of your arteries (which are vessels that carry blood) as your blood rushes through them. You can feel your pulse by pressing down anywhere a large artery is near your skin. Aside from your wrist, you can feel your pulse in your neck and even behind your knee. Try it out!

Each thump you feel is actually one heartbeat. Isn't that neat?

Keeping the Beat

What would happen if you used all of your muscle to squeeze a tube of toothpaste? You would make a giant mess! Squeezing on the tube with all your might would cause the toothpaste to squirt out of the tube.

Your heart is a muscle that contracts, or squeezes, to move blood around your body. Before every beat, your heart fills with blood. Once it's full, it beats. During the beat, the sides of the heart squeeze together, like the sides of a toothpaste tube, and the blood inside is pushed out quickly into your arteries. The push from the heart causes the thumping of your pulse.

While the walls, or sides, of the heart are made of strong muscle, the walls of the arteries are thin and elastic, like a rubber band. The force of the blood rushing through the arteries causes the elastic walls to stretch. You feel this stretching when you take your pulse.

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