Target Heart Rate

The difficulty in determining the intensity of exercise lies in the fact that everyone is different. What makes one person huff and puff will barely break a sweat on someone else. To adequately measure intensity, the target heart rate is used.

Measuring target heart rate first requires knowing your average maximum heart rate, which is determined by subtracting your age from 220. Your target heart rate is 50–85 percent of your maximum. It is a wide range. When you begin an exercise program, your target is the lower end of the range, and as you become more physically fit, you aim higher.

Some high-blood-pressure medications can lower your maximum heart rate. Check with your doctor to determine if your medication does this, and to find your new target heart rate.

Begin by measuring your pulse. To do this, put two fingers, preferably your second and third fingers, on your carotid or radial artery. The carotid artery is alongside your windpipe, and your radial artery can be found in the groove of your inner wrist, below your thumb. Move your fingers around until you feel the pulse. Using a timepiece with a second hand or a stop watch, count the pulse beats for ten seconds. Multiply by six for your beats per minute (bpm). (Alternatively, you can count for six seconds and multiply by ten.).

Target Heart Rate

Age

Target Heart Rate (50?85 percent)

Average Maximum Heart Rate (100 percent)

20

100-179 bpm

200 bpm

30

89-162 bpm

190 bpm

40

90-153 bpm

180 bpm

50

85-145 bpm

170 bpm

60

80-136 bpm

160 bpm

70

75-128 bpm

150 bpm

It is possible to estimate intensity without the heart rate. It's called the chat test, and it is useful if your activity doesn't allow you to take your pulse. If you can chat easily during your activity, your intensity is low. If you can speak, but are breathing heavily, your intensity is moderate. If you can't talk at all, your intensity is high.

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