The top 50 things that get people’s heart racing

Exercise has unsurprisingly come out top in a comprehensive poll of activities that get our pulses racing, but there are plenty of surprises on the list.

Placing a last-minute bid on eBay and accidentally liking a photo while stalking someone’s social media are some of the unusual activities that can really cause the heart to pound.  

Having sex was number two, followed by attending a job interview and going on a first date.

An argument came in fifth, then making a presentation at work and bringing up a difficult issue or confronting someone close, according to the research.

Other reasons include a near miss while driving or cycling, taking your driving test and the moment you realise you’ve made a mistake at work. 

The average adult will experience a pounding heart four times a week, with more than three quarters admitting it is fairly easy to set it off, the poll of 2,000 Britons, commissioned by Healthspan, revealed.

Placing a last-minute bid on eBay and accidentally liking a photo while stalking someone’s social media are things that set our pulses racing, reveals a poll of 2,000 Britons (stock photo)

Driving and work raise our pulses  

Driving often leads to a spike in your heart rate with being a passenger in a car driven by a bad driver, getting lost, going too fast and trying to squeeze through a narrow gap all featuring.

Many also admitted to suffering a faster heart beat if they struggle to find their vehicle in a car park, worrying it has been stolen.

Running to catch the last bus or train, losing your passport ahead of a trip and the moment before you’re about to take off in a plane also make the top 50.

Worryingly, work-related activities are also to blame for getting the nation’s hearts racing with many saying it beats faster when they hand in their notice, if their boss asks to see them in the boardroom or they ask for a pay rise.

Other reasons for a racing heart include taking an exam, a first kiss, hearing a noise at night and watching your favourite football team in an important game.

Losing your phone, watching a scary film or TV show, bumping into an ex, sending a ‘risky’ text and almost spilling a drink will also lead to a faster heartbeat.

When to worry about your heart

But researchers found some could suffer a racing heart due to health reasons, with 45 per cent admitting they don’t look after the health of the blood-pumping muscle.

Six in ten admit they worry about their heart health, with one in five even consulting a health professional due to their concerns.

And seven in ten have tried to make a change – big or small – to their lifestyle to try and boost their heart health.

Over a quarter of those surveyed in their forties, and forty per cent of those in their fifties had already been diagnosed with high cholesterol but people are still confused about good and bad cholesterol.

Dr Sarah Brewer, GP and Medical Director at company Healthspan who commissioned the research said: ‘We all have moments where we start to worry or become scared about something, causing our heart rate to spike in panic which is perfectly normal.

‘For most of us, the increased heart rate will drop once the worry or fear has subsided, but a racing heart could also be a serious health issue.’

If your resting pulse rate is unexpectedly below 60 beats per minute (bradycardia), or persistently stays above 100 beats per minute (tachycardia) at rest, she advises you should see your doctor. 


1. Exercise

2. Having good sex

3. Going for a job interview

4. A first date

5. Having an argument

6. Making a presentation at work

7. Bringing up a difficult issue or confronting someone

8. A near miss while driving or cycling

9. The moment you realise you’ve made a mistake at work

10. Just before your driving test

11. Almost tipping over backwards in a chair

12. Travelling in a car being driven badly

13. Taking an exam

14. A first kiss

15. Hearing a noise at night

16. Waking up from a nightmare

17. Making a complaint

18. Losing sight of your child

19. Running to catch the last bus/train

20. Watching your favourite football team in an important game

21. Losing your phone

22. Triggering a phobia

23. Getting lost

24. Seeing your crush

25. Watching a scary film or television programme 

26. Realising you forgot to lock the front door 

27. Bumping into your ex

28. Seeing a spider out the corner of your eye 

29. Winning money

30. Last five minutes of a football match when your team is winning 1-0

31. Losing your passport ahead of a trip

32. Just before take-off in a plane

33. Almost spilling a drink

34. Driving fast in a car

35. Making a big purchase

36. Getting married

37. A last-minute bid on eBay

38. Sending an email or text to the wrong person

39. Sending a ‘risky’ text

40. Not being able to find your car in a car park

41. Driving through a narrow gap

42. Handing in your notice at work

43. When the boss asks to see you in the boardroom

44. Getting on the wrong train/Tube/bus

45. When you remember you’ve left the iron on and you’re already out of the house

46. Suddenly realising you’ve forgotten someone’s birthday

47. An on-screen cliffhanger

48. Cycling down a hill

49. Asking for a pay rise

50. Accidentally liking someone’s post or photo on social media