Your target heart rate (THR) helps you exercise at a safe and effective pace that’s right for you. The key is to make sure activities aren’t so hard that you get discouraged and not so easy that you don’t see results or fail to get into the fat burning zone. The answer is to work in your target heart rate zone. This is based upon your age and fitness level and is designed to give maximum aerobic and fat burning benefits for you as an individual. The easiest way to calculate your target heart rate is 220 minus your age then multiply that number by 50% and 85%. The numbers represent lower and upper end of your target heart rate zone.
220 – ________ = ________ x .50 = ________ ( Minus your age ) ( THR ) ( lower THR ) 220 – ________ = ________ x .85 = ________ ( Minus your age ( THR ) ( upper THR )
While you exercise, your heart rate should fall between these two numbers. If you are just starting, strive to keep your heart rate towards the low end of your target heart rate zone (50% to 60%). If you have been exercising regularly, your heart rate can fall within the low to middle zone (60% to 70%). For those who wish to exercise at a higher intensity, your heart rate should fall in the upper zone (70% to 85%). While you exercise, try to keep up the intensity of your workout and take your pulse for a count of ten seconds then multiply by six. This will give you an estimated heart rate per minute. To take your heart rate or pulse, use your first two fingers, never your thumb. Press your fingertips lightly just underneath your jawbone on the right or left side of your neck (in the groove of your neck). Monitor your heart rate (pulse) periodically during your workout as you continue to keep up the same intensity. If it’s too high, back off a little so that your heart rate lowers to a more appropriate exercise level that is safe for you and effective. But if you find that your heart rate is too low, pick up the pace and check your pulse again after about five minutes of exercise. The drawback to this basic method of taking your pulse is that it’s difficult to get an accurate reading. Heavy breathing and muscle movements can make it hard to find your pulse. Often you can’t count fast enough to get all your heart beats and if you stop or slow your exercise intensity, it will not give you a true indication of how hard you are working. An alternative to the basic method for taking your pulse is a heart rate monitor.