Your Heart

In February, we often see hearts in decorations for Valentine's Day. Why not learn about your real heart, one of your body's most important muscles?

Your heart moves blood through your whole body. Blood carries oxygen and food to your cells so they are healthy. Blood carries carbon dioxide and other wastes away from the cells of your body to where your body can get rid of them. You should be able to feel the blood moving through different parts of your body. This is called your pulse.

One place to feel your pulse is at your wrist. Use two fingers on your right hand to feel your left wrist. Feel the strong cords in your wrist just below your thumb. Then move your fingers even further from the center of your wrist so you are feeling near the base of your thumb but way at the edge of your wrist. Can you feel the bump, bump of your blood moving through your wrist? This is caused by your heart beating.

Another place to feel your pulse is in your neck. Touch your fingers to your face near the corner of your eye which is farthest from your nose. Now move your fingers down your cheek to your neck. You should be close to where you can feel your pulse in your neck.

Use a clock with a second hand and count the number of times your heart beats in 15 seconds. Now jump up and down 15 or 20 times. Find your pulse again and count the beats in 15 seconds. Is it faster? Why would it be?

Your heart will beat thousands of times in your life time. You can do a few things to help your heart stay healthy. Eat healthy foodsexercise at least 30 minutes every other day, and don't smoke. For more on kids' nutrition, visit the Nutrition.gov site. Want to learn more about the heart? Visit the Franklin Institute's The Heart, An Online Exposition.

For a variety of health resources, visit the National Institutes of Health.

The website of The American Heart Association National Center has many resources about the heart and has its own search engine. Use the site search engine to see Heartpower, classroom materials for school use.
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