Equation to Target Your Heart Rate During Cardiovascular Exercise

It is important to stay within your ideal heart rate during exercise.

It is important to stay within your ideal heart rate during exercise.

Due to individual variation, there is an equation to determine your target heart rate during cardiovascular exercise rather than a predetermined number for everyone. Variables that affect heart rate include your current fitness level, the intensity of your workout, your overall fitness capability and the health of your cardiovascular system. Your target heart rate is the number of times your heart beats in one minute, which will increase when you begin to exercise.

Exercise and Heart Rate

As your muscles stretch and contract during exercise, they need oxygen. Your cardiovascular system delivers this oxygen in the blood that courses through your arteries. As the intensity of your exercise activities increases, so does your muscles' need for additional oxygen. You begin to breathe harder, taking in more oxygen and your heart starts pumping faster to deliver the influx to all parts of your body. The more frequently your body experiences this increased need for oxygen, the better your system becomes in utilizing it. So eventually your breathing and heart rate will not climb as high to support the same level of effort.

Formula for Your Ideal

Although experts disagree slightly, the Cleveland Clinic recommends that your ideal heart rate should be between 60 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. The standard formula used to determine your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. That answer is your maximum heart rate. By multiplying your answer times .60 and .80, you can determine your personal target heart rate range.

Alternate Formula Options

The CDC indicates that your target heart rate can range from a low of 50 to 70 percent for moderate-intensity physical exercise. For vigorous-intensity physical activity, their recommended rates change to 70 to 85 percent. Beginners should stay toward the lower end of the range until they are able to perform higher intensity activities without becoming breathless or extremely fatigued. Your doctor may advise starting at even lower rates if you have certain medical issues.

Cautions and Concerns

Everyone should check with a doctor before starting a new exercise program. Your target heart rate can change due to many medical issues, including pregnancy. As your overall condition improves, your resting heart rate will gradually lower from the normal rate of around 100 beats per minute to around 60 beats per minute. This is normal.

 

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