Heart training zones are designed to help you take full advantage of the physical activity that you are performing. Certain fitness benefits are gained from training in a specific heart rate zone. Aerobic and anaerobic are two of five heart rate zones that are calculated using your estimated maximum heart rate. Each zone offers different benefits. You can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from the number 220.
The aerobic target zone is 70 to 80 percent of your maximal heart rate. Multiply your maximum heart rate by this percentage to determine the intensity you must maintain to remain in this zone. For example, if you are a 25-year-old wanting to train at the lower end of this zone, which is 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, that means you must aim for a heart rate of 136 beats per minute to remain in this zone.
The anaerobic zone is slightly more intense than the aerobic zone. Anaerobic means without oxygen, so don't be surprised if you are unable to speak except for short words at a time in this zone. The anaerobic zone is 80 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate. If you are a 25-year-old wanting to train at the lower end of this zone, which is 80 percent of your max, then you must aim for a heart rate of 156 beats per minute.
The aerobic zone helps improve circulation and oxygen transport to your cells and tissues. In addition, it helps improve your lung capacity. Initially, you might find yourself out of breath, but as your body adapts to this zone, you will find it easier to control your breathing. The anaerobic heart zone helps build endurance, particularly by improving your VO2 max -- the maximum amount of oxygen your body can convert to energy.
Consult your physician before working out above 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. Anything above 85 percent pushes your body to its limit and typically requires proper training. Aim for at least 20 minutes of heart zone training a minimum of three days per week to gain benefits. Start slowly and gradually increase your exercise intensity. Initially, you might find that you become winded easily, particularly if you are new to cardiovascular exercise.
- Mayo Clinic: Exercise Intensity: Why It Matters, How It's Measured
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Target Heart Rate and Estimated Maximum Heart Rate
- The Heart Rate Monitor Guidebook to Heart Zone Training; Sally Edwards and Mary Burroughs
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