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Get With the Beat: Heart Rate Explained

Why you should pay close attention to your target heart rate when exercising.

heart rate

After a great round of cardio exercise, the heart-pumping cool down is usually welcome. But do you know if it’s too much or too little?

Your heart rate is an indication.

If your heart rate is too high during exercise, you could be straining yourself, according to the American Heart Association. If it’s too low, you may not reach your fitness goals. Knowing how to calculate and monitor your target heart rate can help improve your overall fitness.

Calculating Your Target Heart Rate

First you must find your maximum heart rate. Do this by subtracting your age from 220. For example, a 20-year-old’s average maximum heart rate is 200 beats per minute. A 65-year-old’s is 155 beats per minute.

Your target heart rate should be 50 to 70% of your maximum heart rate during moderate exercise. Following the previous example, the average target heart rate of a 20-year-old would be 100 to 140 beats per minute, while a 65-year-old’s should be between 78 and 109 beats per minute.

Monitoring Your Heart Rate

Periodically check your pulse as you exercise. Place two fingers on your wrist closer to your thumb, over the blood vessels, and count your pulse for 10 seconds. Multiply that number by six to find your current heart rate.

If it’s higher than 50 to 85% of your maximum heart rate, you’re straining. If it’s lower, and the intensity of your exercise feels light, you may want to increase the intensity.

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Why It’s Important

According to the American Heart Association, the more beats your heart has to take eventually takes a toll on its overall function. So, if you’re pushing yourself too hard as you exercise, your risk of developing cardiovascular disease increases.

Plus, if you monitor your heart rate, you’re more likely to notice a change in rate and regularity, which can be a sign of a heart condition.

Check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise routines.

What’s your cardio routine like? Tell us in the comments below.

Find more fitness-related articles on our Health and Fitness page.

Comments
  • I do two HIIT classes and one Zumba class per week, outdoors at my local Y. I actually haven’t checked heart rate in years, but am inspired to do so after reading the article. I’ve been doing fitness classes for 39 years now, and kind of have a sense of how hard to push myself, but it’s good to double check.

    Reply

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