Know your target heart rate for exercise

September 21, 2020 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

Want to get the most out of your workout? Get heart smart and stay in the zone.

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week or 75 minutes of higher intensity workouts per week. Knowing your target heart range, and staying in it when you exercise, can help maximize the benefit of all that work.

The best way to find your target heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. For example, if you are 40, your maximum heart rate would be 180. That’s the number you’ll work from when determining your target heart rate for a workout.

For a moderate level workout, you’ll want to stay within 50 to 70 percent of your maximum range. For a higher intensity level, stay within 70 to 85 percent of the maximum.

If your goal is to burn more fat when you exercise, higher intensity isn’t better. Stay within 65 to 70 percent of your maximum range for best results.

To make sure you are staying within your range, check your pulse every three to five minutes during your workout. Smart watches or the monitors on most exercise equipment provide a quick and easy way to check your heart rate.

You can also calculate your heart rate by taking your pulse on the inside of your wrist, thumb side. Place two fingers, not your thumb, lightly on the artery and count the beats for 30 seconds. Multiply that number by two to get your heart rate. You can also do the same by finding your pulse on the left side of your neck.

And while making sure you stay within your target range during your workout is important, so is your cool down. Don’t abruptly end your workout without bringing your heart rate back down. Skipping your cool down could cause you to become dizzy or sick.

You want to cool down for a good five minutes or more to let it come back down slowly. Don’t just all of a sudden drop to nothing.

If health issues, such as joint pain, limit your workouts or prevent you from reaching your target heart rate, don’t give up. Talk to your doctor about an appropriate way to work exercise into your daily routine. This may mean doing smaller workouts throughout the day.

Instead of trying to focus on duration, focus on frequency and add it up over time. For example, try to do one percent more than the day before.

It’s all about trying to establish a meaningful behavior. You can’t do that by trying to move mountains every day.

Want to move more? Spend time outdoors? Breathe in some fresh air? Join us on an 8-week journey to explore the outdoors and tackle fun, weekly challenges to get your whole group moving! Learn more about the Healthy Driven Take a Hike! Challenge.

Explore fitness classes and programs at Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness.

Know your risk for heart disease. Take a free, 5-minute test that could save your life.

Learn more from Healthy Driven Chicago:

Seven tips to improve your fitness

Six ways exercise benefits your health


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