Post-exercise palpation of pulse rates: Its applicability to habitual exercisers

Allison E. De Van, Barbara K. Lacy, Miriam Y. Cortez-Cooper, Hirofumi Tanaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Despite the increased popularity of heart rate (HR) monitors, endurance-trained adults as well as habitual exercisers often use pulse rate palpation to periodically monitor exercise intensity. However, due to the rapid recovery of HR following exercise bouts, post-exercise palpation of pulse rates may underestimate exercise HR. To test this hypothesis, we studied 20 young physically active adults performing two sets of exercise for 5 min at 70% and 85% of maximal HR on the treadmill; one with carotid and another with radial pulse count. Post-exercise palpation of pulse rate was lower (P < 0.01) than the actual HR during exercise, underestimating exercise HR by 20-27 bpm (beats per min). Even when ECG tracings of HR were analyzed immediately after exercise (0-15 s), a significant underestimation of exercise HR (7-9 bpm) still persisted (P < 0.05). Following exercise, pulse rate obtained by carotid palpation at both intensities and radial palpation at the lower intensity was no different from the corresponding HR measured with ECG. In the radial artery trial at the higher exercise intensity, pulse rate following exercise was lower (10 bpm; P < 0.05) than ECG-derived HR. Arterial stiffness, which is closely associated with arterial baroreflex sensitivity, was not significantly related to the changes in HR with carotid palpation. We concluded that post-exercise pulse palpations may not be appropriate as an indicator of exercise intensity in habitual exercisers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-181
Number of pages5
JournalScandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2005


  • Arterial stiffness
  • Carotid artery
  • Endurance training
  • Exercise prescription

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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