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Target Heart Rate Calculator
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Target Heart Rate Zones

A search on Google for Target Heart Rate Zones returns no less than 11,000,000 pages... To make things easier for you, this page gives an overview on the target heart rate and training zones. In addition, a target heart rate calculator is included.

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Target Heart Rate Calculator

Exercise is good for you. Obviously not all exercises were created equal. In addition, it does matter how much exercise you do, and how intensely you exert yourself. How can anyone know how much exercise one needs to do in order to reap the most benefits?

Whether you jog or walk or bike or swim, your muscles need to reach a certain level of activity for the exercise to be maximally efficient. It is during this optimal range of exercise intensity that your heart reaches the so-called target heart rate. Here is a handy calculator.


Age years
Resting Heart Rate beats per minute
Desired Exercise Intensity Beginner (50 - 65% of THR)
Aerobic (65 - 80% of THR)
Anaerobic (80 - 90% of THR)

What Is The Target Heart Rate?

You need first to understand what the target heart rate is. You are familiar with the resting heart rate - it simply is the number of times your heart beats in one minute at rest. For most adults, their resting heart rate range is between 60 to 100 beats per minute. As you exercise your heart rate increases proportionally to the exercise intensity, up to a so-called maximum heart rate.

In healthy adults, the maximum heart rate to depends on the age of the individual. A quick way to determine your maximum heart rate is to deduct your age in years from 220. For example if you are 35 years old, your maximum heart rate is 185 (220 minus 35). In other words, no matter how intense your exercise might be, your heart rate can only reach 185 beats per minute. Please note that in certain circumstances, whether because the intensity of the physical activity is too high or due to underlying cardiac problems, one's heart rate can exceed the maximum heart rate threshold. However in these instances we are talking about a pathologically increased heart rate, which is not desirable.

To be on the safe side and avoid the risks mentioned above (and others), when you exercise you should not to do so close to your maximum heart rate. This is where the target heart rate comes into play. The target heart rate is simply the ideal intensity level at which your heart is being exercised but not overworked. Most authorities recommend the target heart rate to be 60 to 85 percent of the maximum heart rate.

Formulas to Calculate the Target Heart Rate

There are to formulas used to calculate the target heart rate (HR). The Karvonen formula is more precise as it takes into account your individual resting heart rate. In reality, few people able to accurately measure their resting heart rate and even fewer can do so consistently over a period of weeks. This is why the standard target heart rate formula is the most used one.

Obviously the most accurate method to determine the optimal training heart rate will be a treadmill stress test administered by a physician. In fact, if you are overweight, over 35 years of age, have not exercised regularly for many years or have a family history of early heart disease you should talk to your doctor about testing before starting any exercise program.

Finally, it very important that you take into account your individual, current fitness level when you use the target heart rate to optimize your exercise program. For more details please read below under the training zones heading.
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How To Measure Your Heart Rate During Exercise

Measuring your heart rate during exercise can be tricky. Here is a simple way to do it. Place your right hand over the heart area and start counting when you feel the beats. For most accurate results you should start counting no later than 5 seconds after you stop exercising. Count the heart beats for a total of 10 seconds. Multiply the result by 6. For example if you've counted 20 beats in 10 seconds, 20 X 6 = 120, which is your heart rate during exercise. you can then adjust the intensity of exercise so that your heart rate gets as close as possible to your target heart rate.

Heart Rate Training Zones

Beginners And Warm-up: 50 - 65% of maximum heart rate

This is the best level to start an exercise program at. It can also be used as a warm-up by those with a high of fitness level. Not only is this solely safer, but has been shown to have very positive effects on health. It is in this is zone that you can reap most of the health benefits of exercise, including weight maintenance.

Aerobic Zone: 65 - 80% of maximum heart rate

The reason this zone is called aerobic is because it is the most effective in improving the cardiovascular fitness. In time as your level of fitness increases and you're able to exercise more into this aerobics zone, your body's ability to transport oxygen from the lungs to muscle cells and to dispose of the carbon dioxide increases. This zone is also optimal for increasing muscle strength. Last but not least, it is in this zone that you can burn fat calories. As your fitness level increases you will notice in time that your resting heart rate tends to become lower. this is a normal phenomenon and is a reflection of increased cardiovascular efficiency.

Anaerobic Zone: 80 - 90% of maximum heart rate

This level is usually reserved for professional athletes. The anaerobic zone starts at the so-called anaerobic threshold. The anaerobic threshold designates an intensity of exercise beyond which our bodies are unable to effectively remove the lactic acid from the working muscles. Muscles use glycogen as their primary fuel during exercise. Lactic acid is a byproduct of glucose metabolism in the muscles. When you reach this zone you feel very tired, almost exhausted, your breathing becomes heavy and, obviously, your heart rate goes up. Why would anybody desire to exercise in this uncomfortable zone? The benefit is that your muscles become more efficient in dealing with the lactic acid load, and thus you can increase your endurance and performance. For professional athletes and competitors this is important, as they often perform close to their anaerobic threshold during competitions.

Recovery Zone

This is where your heart rate should be at 2-5 minutes (depending on your fitness level) after you stop exercising. For most adults, this zone is below 120. If your hear rate is higher than 120 after 5 minutes, you should decrease the intensity of your workup.

Dr Gily

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