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Target Heart Rate

To achieve the most benefit from exercising, you should alternate the intensity in which you exercise. To determine the intensity of exercise, you can count the number of times your heart beats in a minute. You can do this at either your carotid artery in your neck or on the radial artery in your wrist. If you choose not to take the entire minute to count the beats, you can take your pulse for ten seconds and multiply by six. Compare your actual heart rate with what is recommended for your age group and you can estimate your fitness level.

When participating in aerobic exercise, you will want to achieve a heart rate between the ranges of 50-85% of your maximum heart rate. This is commonly referred to as your target heart rate. When you exercise regularly within your target heart rate, the result will be an increase in aerobic capacity and an improved level of fitness.

Each person’s target rate will be determined by his or her age. There are several methods to use to determine what the appropriate target heart rate is. The most common method is to take 220 minus the person’s age. This will give an estimated maximum heart rate. Multiply this number by .50 (low end of the heart rate zone) and .85 (high end of the heart rate zone) to determine the target heart range.

For example, for a 35 year old

220-35 = 185.

185 x 0.5 = 92.5;

185 x 0.85 = 157.25.

In this case, target heart rate is between 92.5 and 157.25 beats per minute. This is not completely accurate but gives a good idea for a beginning exerciser to shoot for.

Another method that is not quite as simple is the Karvonen Formula. Here the maximum heart rate is determined using 206.9 (0.67 x age). You will also need to determine your individual resting heart rate. This should be done when you first awake in the morning or when you have been idle for a while. The number of beats per minute of your heart while in this resting condition is the resting heart rate.

Using the same age for an example, the formula is:

206.9 (0.67 x 35 {age}) = 183.45

183.45 – 65 (resting heart rate) = 118.45

118.45 x 0.5 = 59.225; 118.45 x 0.85 = 100.68

59 + 65 (resting heart rate) = 124

100.68 + 65 = 165.68

Therefore, the target heart rate for this 35 year old is 124-165.

A non-mathematically related way to determine your exercise intensity is the “talk test.” Simply put, a person engaged in a light workout will be able to sing while doing the activity. When moderately exercising he or she will be able to talk without huffing and puffing. When unable to carry on a conversation, this person may well be participating in vigorous exercise.

A more formalized scale of perceived exertion is the Borg scale. The most common are the 15 and 10-point scales.

15-point scale

6 – 20% effort7 – 30% effort – Very, very light (Rest)8 – 40% effort9 – 50% effort – Very light – gentle walking10 – 55% effort11 – 60% effort – Fairly light12 – 65% effort13 – 70% effort – Somewhat hard – steady pace14 – 75% effort15 – 80% effort – Hard16 – 85% effort17 – 90% effort – Very hard18 – 95% effort19 – 100% effort – Very, very hard20 Exhaustion

10-Point Scale

0 – Nothing at all1 – Very light2 – Fairly light3 – Moderate4 – Some what hard5 – Hard67 – Very hard8910 – Very, very hard

If your fitness goal is to increase your heart-lung abilities, your best course of action should be to maintain your heart rate at the higher end of the target heart rate.

If instead, your goal is to burn fat then your goal should be to conduct lower intensity exercise for a longer period.

No matter what your goal is, exercise is beneficial and fun! Just get on out and walk!