The target heart rate zone is a term used to define a heart rate at which cardio exercises are to be done. Exercising regularly at a target heart rate ensures that there is minimum undue stress on the heart and maximum benefit from the exercises. The American Heart Association recommends people to exercise in their target heart rate zones, which are calculated as a percentage (usually between 50 and 85%) of your maximum (safe) heart rate. Exercising below 50% may not help you meet the goals of fitness, and exercising beyond 85% may cause problems such as sore muscles or even a heart attack.
The maximum heart rate is based on age. To find your maximum heart rate, you need to subtract your age from 220. Therefore, if your age is 30 years, the maximum heart rate is 220 minus 30, which equals 190 beats per minute (bpm). At a 50% exertion level, your target would be 50% of your maximum heart rate, which equals 95 bpm. At an 85% level of exertion, your target would be 162 bpm. Therefore, the target heart rate that a 30-year-old would want to reach during exercise is 95-162 bpm.
Below is a chart showing age-based maximum heart rate and target heart rate zone:
Target Heart Rate Zone
Maximum Heart Rate
You can measure your heart rate by keeping your index finger and middle finger on the outer side of your wrist as the wrist faces upward (side of the thumb). However, technology has made counting your heart rate much easier. There are treadmill machines that measure your heart rate while you run on it. There are fitness trackers that you can tie on your wrist to measure your heart rate while you do any kind of activity.
Although the normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 bpm, research says that it is better to have one at the lower level of the range. Athletes are known to have resting heart rates between 40 and 50 bpm. The lower your heart rate, the more healthy your heart is. Exercising in your target heart rate zone can help you reach this heart-healthier rate in the long run.
What are the things to remember while reaching your target heart rate zone?
- Never skip warming up or cooling down during exercising. Skipping these can cause muscle injury and chronic pain.
- Choose exercises that suit you. You can do muscle strength training and aerobic activities. Aim for at least twice a week strength training of all major muscles (such as triceps, biceps, and quadriceps). You can use free weights or do activities such as planks, squats, or lunges.
- There are two kinds of aerobic activities. You can do any one of these or a combination of these.
- Start with aiming for a lower range of your target heart rate zone (50%) and gradually build up till you can reach 85%.
- Listen to your body. Stop if you feel uncomfortable even when you are exercising in your target heart rate zone. Devices that measure your heart rate can malfunction.
- Some exercises may not be advised for people with back problems; talk to your fitness guide/doctor before you start.
- If you feel chest pain or shortness of breath while doing exercises in your target heart rate zone, do not push yourself too hard. Talk to your doctor to check if you have any problems with your heart or to know how intensely you should exercise.
- Ask an exercise/fitness expert if high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is good for you. This kind of training involves each exercise (vigorous) of 15-60 seconds with short intervals of rest of about 10-30 seconds. In between, your trainer may include moderate exercises as well. This works very well if you have diabetes or are looking for weight loss.
- Before you start a vigorous exercise program to reach your target heart rate zone, make sure you speak to your doctor if you
- If you are above 50 years, it is very important to keep yourself hydrated by drinking lots of water while doing exercises in your target zone.
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Target Heart Rates Chart. Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/target-heart-rates
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