Target heart rate: what’s all the hype?

Monitoring your heart rate while you exercise can help you get the most from your workouts, without overdoing it. Whether you wear a heart rate monitor, use electrodes built into equipment, or track it manually (see below), achieving your target rate is about finding the level of exertion that’s safe and best for you.

What is Target Heart Rate?
Your target heart rate is a range of numbers that reflect how fast your heart is beating when you are active. A higher heart rate (but in a range that is safe for you) leads to greater fitness.

Finding Your Target Heart Rate:
Before finding your target heart rate, you should know your resting one. Locate your pulse and count the number of beats in a minute—this is your resting heart rate. The average resting heart rate is between 60 and 100. The more fit you are, the lower this number will be.

Target heart rate is expressed as a percentage (usually between 50 and 85 percent) of your maximum safe heart rate. The maximum rate is based on your age, subtracted from 220. For a 50-year-old, maximum heart rate is 220 minus 50, or 170 beats per minute. At 50 percent exertion, your target would be 50 percent of that maximum, or 85 beats per minute. At 85 percent level of exertion, your target would be 145 beats per minute. As such, the target heart rate a 50-year-old would want to achieve while exercising is 85 to 145 beats per minute.

It’s easier than you think to build endurance and increase your fitness – and interval training or HIIT (high intensity interval training) is a great way to do it. For example, try walking two minutes at a comfortable pace, followed by a minute of power walking or light jogging, repeating the sequence many times over. You can also add power intervals into cycling, swimming, running, and of course, tennis!

How much exercise do I need for health benefits?
The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of heart-pumping activity for adults every week – but only 15% of Canadian adults actually achieve this. Don’t be among them – making exercise a priority will make you happier and healthier. It’s the one thing proven to slow the aging process. Find an activity or two you enjoy (a brisk walk a day is a great place to start) and don’t look back.

 

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