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February 22, 2019

By: Lisa Payne

Sweating means your workout is working, right? It may seem that the more you sweat the better the workout. But really, it’s monitoring your heart rate that gives you the most precise gauge on your fitness intensity. We know we need cardiovascular training to stay healthy and maintain our weight. But within that commitment is a will to exercise within a proper intensity range for you as an individual. Knowing your range and how to monitor it can change both your level of motivation and the results you get from your workouts. The best way to stay on track is to calculate your target heart rate, monitor it from warm-up to cool down, and utilize this information to your workout performance advantage.

Here’s where to start:

What Is Target Heart Rate?

According to the American Heart Association, your target heart rate is 50 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. This is where you should be during exercise. If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, place two fingers over your wrist or neck and count the number of beats per minute. Your beats per minute should not exceed your maximum heart rate number.

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How to Calculate Your Target Heart Rate

Before we get to target heart rate, let’s first calculate your maximum heart rate (MHR). Your MHR is 220 subtracted by your age. Once you’ve done that, multiply that number by 0.5 and 0.85 to get your target heart rate range.

target heart rate

What Does This Mean?

Staying within your target heart rate range will keep you from exercising below your capability or going overboard into exhaustion. Moderate intensity is staying within 50 to 70 percent of your target heart rate. Vigorous intensity is 70 to 85 percent.  

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How Do You Stay Within Your Range?

Take into account that your heart rate can change based on your activity, climate, intensity and hydration level. Slow down if you do too much. Stay accountable when you know you could step it up a bit. Moderate intensity exercise includes things like walking, light swimming, tennis doubles or aerobics. Vigorous intensity exercise includes spin class, sprints, hiking uphill or soccer.

Some days you could wring the sweat out of your workout clothes. Unfortunately, sweating doesn’t accurately determine how hard your heart is pumping to execute your workouts. Exercise should be a safe, effective activity that won’t deter you from coming back again and again. Calculate, monitor and exercise smarter using your target heart rate!