Tracking your heart rate

Your heart rate is super important when it comes to physical activity.
Your heart rate will increase as your activity level rises, but there is a healthy range for your heart rate, and anything outside of that may be an indicator of a heart condition. Learning how to calculate your heart rate ranges can be a valuable tool not only for monitoring your health, but also ensuring you get the most out of your workouts.

If you find that you are short of breath, are in pain or can’t work out as long as you’d planned, your exercise intensity is probably higher than your fitness level allows. It is probably a good idea to slow down a bit and build intensity gradually. Beware of pushing yourself too hard too often.

I am sure you are wondering how to gauge your heart rate. The easiest way these days is by using a fitness smart watch which tracks calories, time, steps, speed, intensity, including your heart rate. Training with one offers many benefits – it ensures your workouts are intense enough, that you’re taking adequate rest between exercises/circuits, helps you train in different zones of intensity, and enables you to track your fitness progress over time.

Another way to gauge your exercise intensity is to see how hard your heart is beating during physical activity. What you want to do is first figure out your maximum heart rate, the upper limit of what your cardiovascular system can handle during physical activity.

The basic way to calculate your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. For example, if you’re 45 years old, subtract 45 from 220 to get a maximum heart rate of 175. This is the maximum number of times your heart should beat per minute during exercise. Once you know your maximum heart rate, you can calculate your desired target heart rate zone, the level at which your heart is being exercised and conditioned but not overworked.

These are the general recommendation of target heart rate:
Moderate exercise intensity: 50 to about 70 percent of your maximum heart rate
Vigorous exercise intensity: 70 to about 85 percent of your maximum heart rate

If you’re not fit or you’re new to working out, it is best for you to aim for the lower end of your target zone. Then, gradually build up the intensity. If you’re already used to an intense exercise regimen, you can opt for the higher end of the target zone. A quicker medium is to use an online calculator to determine your desired target heart rate zone or, you can calculate it yourself:

Subtract your age from 220 to get your maximum heart rate.
Calculate your resting heart rate by counting your heart beats per minute when you are at rest, such as first thing in the morning. It’s usually somewhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute for the average adult. Calculate your heart rate reserve (HRR) by subtracting your resting heart rate from your maximum heart rate. Multiply your HRR by 0.7 (70 percent). Add your resting heart rate to this number. Multiply your HRR by 0.85 (85 percent). Add your resting heart rate to this number. These two numbers are your training zone heart rate. Your heart rate during exercise should be between these two numbers.

It’s important to note that maximum heart rate is just a guide. You may have a higher or lower maximum heart rate, sometimes by as much as 15 to 20 beats per minute. If you want a more definitive range, consider discussing your target heart rate zone with an exercise physiologist or a personal trainer.

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