What does this tool help you learn?
This tool will help you find your target heart rate based on your age, resting heart rate, and activity level. Your target heart rate can guide you to how hard you should exercise so you can get the most aerobic benefit from your workout.
Do not use this target heart rate measurement if you are taking medicine that affects your heart rate, such as beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, or digoxin. Talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program.
How does this tool measure your target heart rate?
Target heart rates can be measured in slightly different ways. In this tool, your target heart rate is measured using your maximum heart rate (based on your age), your resting heart rate, and how active you are. The calculation used in this tool is accurate for all activity levels, from inactive to very active.
How can you take your resting heart rate?
You can easily take your own pulse to find your resting heart rate. You can check your resting pulse the first thing in the morning, just after you wake up but before you get out of bed. Or you can sit or rest quietly for at least 10 minutes and then take your pulse.
What is your activity level?
Your target heart rate depends on how physically fit you are. For example, if you are not active and not physically fit, your target heart rate is a little lower than the target heart rate of someone who exercises every day. This tool gives you a range of what your target heart rate is, based on how much you usually exercise.
To find your target heart rate range, you will choose the category that best matches your level of physical activity. The categories are:
- Not active. You do less than 30 minutes of light activity no more than 2 times a week. Cleaning house, slow walking, and playing golf are examples of light activity.
- Moderately active. You do up to 30 minutes of light to moderate activity 3 to 5 times a week. Brisk walking, jogging, riding a bike, swimming, and playing tennis are examples of moderate activity.
- Very active. You do more than 30 minutes of moderate activity at least 5 times a week.
How can you use your target heart rate?
You can use your target heart rate to know how hard to exercise to gain the most aerobic benefit from your workout. You can exercise within your target heart rate to either maintain or raise your aerobic fitness level. To raise your fitness level, you can work harder while exercising to raise your heart rate toward the upper end of your target heart rate range. If you have not been exercising regularly, you may want to start at the low end of your target heart rate range and gradually exercise harder.
To take your heart rate during exercise, you can count the beats in a set period of time (for example, 30 seconds) and then multiply by a number to get the number of beats per minute. For example, if you count your heartbeat for 30 seconds, double that number to get the number of beats per minute. You can also wear a heart rate monitor during exercise so you do not have to take your pulse. A heart rate monitor shows your pulse rate continuously, so you see how exercise changes your heart rate. Then you can work harder or easier to keep your heart working in your target heart rate range.
Target heart rate is only a guide. Each individual is different, so pay attention to how you feel, how hard you are breathing, how fast your heart is beating, and how much you feel the exertion in your muscles.
Try to make physical activity a regular and essential part of your day. But if you haven't been active, start slowly and be sure to talk to your doctor before you add regular exercise to your day. For more information, see the topic Fitness: Getting and Staying Active.
Other Works Consulted
- Anspaugh DJ, et al. (2011). Increasing cardiorespiratory endurance. Wellness: Concepts and Applications, 8th ed., pp. 75–97. New York: McGraw-Hill.
- McArdle WD, et al. (2010). Training for anaerobic and aerobic power. In Exercise Physiology: Nutrition, Energy, and Human Performance, 7th ed., pp. 451–489. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Current as of: May 5, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Donald Sproule MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Richard B. Kreider PhD, MX, DPC, FACSM, FASEP - Exercise Physiology
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