Understanding Your Target Heart Rate
Nearly all exercise is good. But to be sure youre getting the most fromyour workout yet staying at a level thats safe for you, you can monitorhow hard your heart is working.
Aiming for whats called a target heart rate can help you do this, says Johns Hopkins cardiologist Seth Martin, M.D., M.P.H. Think of it as the sweet spot between not exercising hard enough and overexerting.
Exercise And Target Heart Rates
Exercise appears on nearly every list of ways to improve health and reduce risk for heart disease. It can take many different forms, and everyone should be able to find some sort of exercise they enjoy, whether its walking, biking, playing sports, or another favorite activity.
One excellent barometer of exercise intensity is your heart rate the number of times your heart beats each minute. Heart rate is influenced by a range of factors. Certainly, exercise intensity plays a role, but other factors like heat and humidity, altitude, stress, and emotion can all increase heart rate. On a hot day or a day when you are experiencing stress, your heart rate may be higher even at rest, so be aware of these outside factors that can impact how your body responds to exercise and adjust your workout when needed.
The term target heart rate refers to the optimal range for your exercise the range of heart rate that will provide a beneficial workout but not overexert the body. For individuals with an existing heart condition, its especially important to not overexert during exercise and cause unnecessary stress to the heart.
Target heart rate is often expressed as a percentage of your maximum heart rate, or the fastest your heart can safely beat. The quickest way to find your maximum heart rate is by subtracting your age from 220. For a 50-year-old, the maximum heart rate would be 220 minus 50 and so equal 170 bpm. For a 40-year-old, it is 160 bpm.
Heart Rate Tips To Keep In Mind
- Start at your beginning. Before getting overly concerned about your heart rate, Martin says, its best to simply get moving. If you havent exercised much before, start where youre comfortable and gradually exert yourself more over time.
- Listen to your body. Your body provides other indicators of how hard its working that you need to consider along with heart rate. Pay attention to how hard youre breathing or sweating, and stop if you feel very uncomfortable, Martin says. Devices recording your heart rate have been known to malfunction, for exampleanother reason listening to your body is important.
- Remember that target heart rate is just a guide. Dont get overly fixated on numbers, Martin says. Ideally, they just push you to work a little harder.
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Maximum Heart Rate And Age
Maximum heart rate is determined by factors within your heart’s electrical system that cause your heart to contract and relax for so many beats per minute. This maximum limit is genetically determined and decreases with age.
For example, if you are 35 years old, your estimated max heart rate should be 185 beats per minutes . At 50 years, your max heart rate is 170 bpm.
Measure Your Heart Rate
To determine your heart rate, use your first two fingers to press lightly over the blood vessels on your inner wristthe side by your thumb. Count your pulse for ten seconds and multiply this number by six.
If your heart rate is 50 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate, you have hit your target heart zone and are working at the right level of intensity.
Wearing a multifunctional fitness tracker such as the Fitbit, or Nike+ FuelBand SE, does the work for you. The device is worn like a bracelet or watch and measures your heart rate.
Exercising at the right level of intensity improves heart and respiratory endurance and helps keep your workout at a level that is vigorous enough to meet your health goals.
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What Are Other Things To Keep In Mind To Maintain A Healthy Exercise Heart Rate
Monitoring your heart rate is a great thing to do when working out. It helps you to keep yourself from overdoing it during a workout, it helps you to maximize your workouts but it helps you to play it safe.
If you are just starting an exercise program, it is wise to start with a target heart rate slightly under your optimal target.
While you may not get as much out of your workout as you would if you pushed it, this might give your heart, as well as the rest of your body, a chance to acclimate to a workout routine.
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What Is The Best Way To Track Heart Rate
The best way to track your heart rate is with a chest strap heart rate monitor, because this type of monitor provides the most accurate results .
You can also use a wearable device such as an armband, smartwatch, or wrist fitness tracker. Other options include earphones, exercise machines, and blood pressure machines.
While you can manually measure your heart rate by taking your pulse, a wearable device will provide more accurate results and allow you to track your heart rate over a set period or during an activity.
Some devices provide additional metrics that give you valuable insight into your heart health, fitness level, and overall health.
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Does The Average Person Need To Track Their Heart Rate
If you have heart disease, its important to learn target heart rates and monitor them as you exercise. For everyone else, the talk test works just fine, says Travers. Can you talk and carry on a conversation when youre exercising? Then youre in a heart-healthy, moderately easy zone. Dont stress about the numbers.
What matters most is that you make an effort to move more. Any exercise, for any length of time, will improve fitness. If tracking your heart rate makes you happy, then go for it. But if heart rate calculations become a stumbling block, forget about it. Your journey to becoming stronger and healthier is too important to let anything get in the way.
How To Improve Your Aerobic Capacity
Unless you’re an athlete or training for a specific sport, you should aim for a moderate level of activity during exercise to improve heart health and aerobic capacityyour body’s ability to use oxygen efficiently.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week. That can be easily accomplished by getting 30 minutes of activity, five days per week.
You might find it challenging to take your pulse during exercise. Using a device, such as a smartwatch, can help. However, heart rate monitors that use a chest strap are more accurate.
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How Much Exercise And How Often
General guidelines call for a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training. Try to get in a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise such as walking, cycling or swimming at least five days a week. Do moderate weightlifting to tone muscles and build muscle endurance twice a week, or frequently enough to cover the major muscle groups.
A Tale Of Two Workouts
Researchers compared two workout strategies in healthy adults ages 70 to 77 during a five-year study in Norway .
The moderate-intensity continuous training workout involved exercising for 50 minutes. Participants aimed for a target heart rate of 70% of their estimated maximum heart rate.
The “4×4” HIIT workout, which lasted 43 minutes, followed this pattern:
1. 10-minute warm-up at 60% of maximum heart rate
2. Four minutes of high-intensity exercise at 85% to 95% of maximum heart rate
3. Three minutes of lower-intensity exercise at 60% of maximum heart rate
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 three times, for a total of 4 cycles
5. Five-minute cool-down.
Note: To get a rough idea of your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. For 60%, multiply by 0.6 for 85%, multiply by 0.85, and so forth. As an example, the estimated maximum heart rate for a 75-year-old would be 220 75 = 145 60% of that would be 145 × 0.6 = 87.
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Target Heart Rate And Estimated Maximum Heart Rate
For moderate-intensity physical activity, your target heart rate should be between 64% and 76%1,2 of your maximum heart rate. You can estimate your maximum heart rate based on your age. To estimate your maximum age-related heart rate, subtract your age from 220. For example, for a 50-year-old person, the estimated maximum age-related heart rate would be calculated as 220 50 years = 170 beats per minute . The 64% and 76% levels would be:
- 64% level: 170 x 0.64 = 109 bpm, and
- 76% level: 170 x 0.76 = 129 bpm
This shows that moderate-intensity physical activity for a 50-year-old person will require that the heart rate remains between 109 and 129 bpm during physical activity.
For vigorous-intensity physical activity, your target heart rate should be between 77% and 93%1,2 of your maximum heart rate. To figure out this range, follow the same formula used above, except change 64 and 76% to 77 and 93%. For example, for a 35-year-old person, the estimated maximum age-related heart rate would be calculated as 220 35 years = 185 beats per minute . The 77% and 93% levels would be:
- 77% level: 185 x 0.77 = 142 bpm, and
- 93% level: 185 x 0.93 = 172 bpm
Zone : 70%80% Of Max Heart Rate
In zone 3, your activity level is “moderate.” This level of exercise improves your lung and heart endurancethe length of time that you can continue to exercise without taking a break. If you’re running, you’re breathing harder. You can still speak, but you’re only able to do it one sentence at a time.
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Vigorous: 77% To 95% Of Mhr
The vigorous heart rate zone is from 77% to 95% of your maximum heart rate. You are now in the vigorous-intensity zone. You will be breathing very hard and able only to speak in short phrases.
This is the zone to aim for when training for endurance. It spurs your body to improve your circulatory system by building new blood vessels and increases your heart and lung capacity. Aiming for 20 to 60 minutes in this zone is believed to give the best fitness training benefits.
With the increase in intensity, you burn more calories in the same amount of time, as you are covering more distance in that same time. The calories you burn depend most on distance and your weight. If you go farther in the same amount of time, you burn more calories per minute.
In the vigorous zone, you burn 50% of your calories from carbohydrates, less than 1% from protein, and 50% from fat.
You would typically be in this zone by running or cycling, but you could achieve it by racewalking or walking fast for an aerobic walking workout.
When you train at the high end of this range , this intense exercise will improve the amount of oxygen you can consumeyour VO2 max. This exertion level takes you to the limit where your body begins to produce lactic acid. Runners, cyclists, and racewalkers use this zone to build their ability to go even faster.
In the high end of the vigorous zone, the body burns 85% carbohydrates, less than 1% protein, and 15% fat.
Using Exercise To Tune Up Your Cardiovascular Health
If we compare a persons initial fitness response to testing, to responses three to six months later, we see progress, says Dr. Stewart. The oxygen consumption will be higher. The time on the treadmill will be longer. The heart rate and blood pressure will be lower. Its like tuning up your engine. Only the engine is your heart and the bodys circulatory system for distributing blood, and its working more efficiently.
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Charts Of Normal Resting And Exercising Heart Rate
The heart is an organ located just behind and slightly to the left of the breastbone, and pumps blood through a network of veins and arteries known as the circulatory system. The right atrium is sent blood from the veins, and delivers it to the right ventricle. It’s then pumped into the lungs where it is oxygenated. The left atrium is sent oxygen enriched blood from the lungs and delivers it to the left ventricle, where it’s then pumped throughout the body, and the ventricular contractions create blood pressure.
A pulse is the beating of the heart as it’s felt through the walls of an artery, such as the radial artery at the wrist. Pulse rates can also be felt and measured at the carotid artery located on the side of the neck, the temporal artery at the temple, or the femoral artery on the anterior side of the hip, and a chart showing normal heart rate can be used to check on your heart rate.
How To Calculate Your Maximum Heart Rate
There are a few ways you can measure your maximum heart rate during a workout and ensure youre maintaining a normal heart rate while exercising.
For most people, the ideal heart rate during exercise is between 5085% of the maximum heart rate. You can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220for example, if youre 40 years old, your maximum heart rate would be 180 beats per minute .
Another common way to determine your heart rate during exercising, be it walking or doing aerobic exercises, is by using a heart rate monitor, which is a device you strap around your chest to measure your heart rate. Additionally, some exercise machines have heart rate sensors you can keep track of while working out.
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What The Experts Do Monitor Heart Rate For Motivation
For Johns Hopkins cardiologist Michael Blaha, M.D., M.P.H., most workoutstake place on an elliptical trainer in his home. His machine has electrodeson which he can place his hands to automatically see his heart rate. Itgives me a sense of how hard Im working, he says.
Blaha also uses his targeted heart rate to guide the course that heprogrammed into the machine, so that he works up to where he wants to be interms of exertion. Knowing your target heart rate and trying to achieve itcan be very motivating, he says.
Determine Target Heart Rate Zones
You can get different fitness benefits by exercising in different heart rate zones. These five exercise zones are based on the percentage ranges of maximum heart rate. In each zone, you will feel a different level of exertion and your body will be burning a different percentage of carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
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Aerobic Heart Rate Zone Vs Anaerobic
Aerobic exercise is when your body is able to take in enough oxygen to sustain how physically active you are without dipping into another energy source. Working out at 70-80% of your max HR will improve your aerobic fitness level. This will allow you to build endurance and create lean muscle for things like distance running or cycling. Its also good for your overall cardiac health.
Anaerobic exercise causes your muscles to need more energy than is provided by the oxygen you are breathing in, so they begin to break down sugars and produce lactic acid. A target heart rate of 80-90% of your max will increase your lactate threshold. This heart rate zone is often useful to improve performance in weightlifting and other non-endurance sports that require power output.
How To Check Your Pulse And Heart Rate
Exercise is an important part of cancer prevention. You need 150minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorousexercise each week to help lower your cancer risk. Your heart rate canhelp you determine if the exercise youre doing is moderate orvigorous.
If youre working at 50 to 70% of your maximum heart rate, then thatexercise is considered moderate. If youre working at 70 to 85% ofyour heart rate then its vigorous exercise.
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Maximal: 96% To 100% Of Mhr
The top zone is from 96% to 100% of your maximum heart rate. You can’t go any higher and most people can’t stay in this zone for more than a few minutes. You will be unable to speak except for gasping single words.
This zone should only be used for short bursts during interval training, where you work intensely for a minute and then drop back down to a lower intensity for several minutes, then repeat.
While you burn lots of calories per minute in the maximal zone, 90% of them are carbohydrates, less than 1% protein, and 10% fats.
You should consult with your doctor to ensure you can work out at such a high heart rate safely.
How Do I Get My Heart Rate In The Target Zone
When you work out, are you doing too much or not enough? Theres a simple way to know: Your target heart rate helps you hit the bullseye so you can get max benefit from every step, swing and squat. Even if youre not a gym rat or elite athlete, knowing your heart rate can help you track your health and fitness level.
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