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Get With the Beat: Heart Rate Explained

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.

According to the American Heart Association, if your heart rate is too high during exercise, you could be straining yourself. If it’s too low, you may not reach your fitness goals. Pay close attention to your target heart rate.

Calculating Your Target Heart Rate

First you must find your maximum heart rate. Find it 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 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. Following the previous example, the average target heart rate of a 20-year-old would be 100 to 170 beats per minute, while a 65-year-old’s should be 78 to 132 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 percent 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.

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 in our AAA Trainer department.

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