Thursday, July 7, 2011

Your Target Heart Rate - A Way to Measure How Hard You are Exercising

Not sure how hard you are working during exercise? Knowing your maximum heart rate and your target heart rate will give you a good idea. To receive all the wonderful benefits of physical activity, it's important that you pace yourself as you don't want to tire too quickly. By taking your pulse rate periodically while you are exercising, you can monitor your heart rate to see if you are exercising within 50-85 percent of your maximum heart rate. This is called the target heart rate zone. You will obtain the most benefit for your body and reduce the risk of injury when you exercise in your target heart rate zone. This can be especially helpful for anyone who is new to exercise or has come off of a period of inactivity perhaps due to illness or pregnancy. Now, you do not want to exercise above 85 percent of your maximum heart rate because doing so can increase both cardiovascular and musculoskeletal risk and does not add any extra benefit to the body. Also, I would like to note there are some medications and medical conditions that can affect your maximum heart rate, so if you are taking medicine or have a medical condition like heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes, always ask your doctor if your maximum heart rate and your target heart rate will be affected. If so, your doctor can prescribe the proper heart rate ranges for your exercise program.

So how do you calculate your target heart rate? Well it's very easy. First you calculate your maximum heart rate which is simply: 220 minus your age.

Example: you are 30 years old so your maximum heart rate is:

220-30= 190

Your maximum heart rate is 190.

For our example, you want to stay within 50-85% of 190 while exercising. So for our example, you want to be working between 95-162 beats per minute. This is your target heart rate for exercising at age 30.

How do you take your pulse rate? You place your three fingers (index, middle, and ring finger)at either your wrist or neck. Now, count the beats you feel while looking at the minute hand of your wrist watch (you can also use the time clock on any cardio machine. Next, count the number of beats you feel in six seconds; add a zero to that number and you have your heart rate.

The following is a chart that you can use to determine where you should fall.

Age Target Heart Rate Maximum Heart Rate
20 years: 100–170 beats per minute, 200 beats per minute
25 years: 98–166 beats per minute, 195 beats per minute
30 years: 95–162 beats per minute, 190 beats per minute
35 years: 93–157 beats per minute, 185 beats per minute
40 years: 90–153 beats per minute, 180 beats per minute
45 years: 88–149 beats per minute, 175 beats per minute
50 years: 85–145 beats per minute, 170 beats per minute
55 years: 83–140 beats per minute, 165 beats per minute
60 years: 80–136 beats per minute, 160 beats per minute
65 years: 78–132 beats per minute, 155 beats per minute
70 years: 75–128 beats per minute, 150 beats per minute

This is simply a guide for you and you should adjust according to how you feel during exercise. If you are first starting out with an exercise program, exercise in the lowest part of your target zone (50 percent) perhaps for the first few weeks or so. Then gradually increase to the middle and higher part of your target zone (65-75 percent). After six months or more of regular exercise, you may be able to exercise comfortably at up to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. However, you don't have to exercise that hard to stay in shape. Just try to maintain some activity that elevates your heart rate every day. If you are not comfortable in the 85% range keep it lower if it helps you maintain a good pace while exercising.

There is also another gauge you can use if you don't want to take your pulse and that is the conversational test. If you can talk and walk at the same time, you are probably not working too hard. If you can sing and still maintain your level of exercise, that's also an indication that you are probably not working hard enough. However, if you get out of breath quickly, then you are probably working too hard and should slow it down. You be the judge. Do what's comfortable for you. These are just ways you can gauge your activity level and they are by no means hard and fast rules. You will still be getting the benefits of exercise if you can walk and talk to a friend or if your target heart rate is 60% of your maximum. It depends on your goal. Are you trying to lose weight or simply trying to stay in shape. The important thing is that you exercise regularly and stay active. As a society we do far too much sitting and that is not good. So get up periodically and walk around.

I hope you found this helpful!
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1 comment:

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