How to Find Your Healthy Maximal Heart Rate When You Exercise

Photo credit: SuperFantastic / Flickr
Photo credit: SuperFantastic / Flickr

The four primary reasons most people exercise is to lose weight, relieve stress, strengthen their heart, and develop a more pleasing physique. The main reasons people don’t reach these goals is that they don’t stick with their routine and they don’t work out at a high enough intensity level. To get results, it’s important to achieve a healthy exercise heart rate that’s high enough to burn fat as well as tone the cardiovascular system. The majority of people who don’t experience exercise benefits fail to consistently get their average exercise heart rate into the aerobic training zone.

How can you determine what a healthy exercise heart rate is for you? There’s a simple formula that’s used to calculate your maximum heart rate. To determine maximal heart rate, simply subtract your age from 220. For example, if you’re forty years old, your maximal heart rate would be 180. Once you’ve calculated your maximum heart rate you can then determine your training zone.

If you’re just starting out with an aerobic exercise program, a healthy exercise heart rate would be around fifty to sixty percent of your maximal heart rate. For the example above, this would be an average heart rate of 90 to 110. An average exercise heart rate at this level is considered to be the low end of the fat burning range. It’s great for starters but you’ll want to build from this point to reach the aerobic training zone.

After becoming comfortable at this lower intensity level, you’ll want to raise your average exercise heart rate in order to keep making fitness gains. To really build endurance, you’ll need to progress to the aerobic training zone which would be seventy to eighty percent of your maximal heart rate. At this level you’ll be getting significant cardiovascular benefits and will be burning calories at a higher rate than you did in the fifty to sixty percent range.

When you move your average exercise heart rate beyond the aerobic training zone to eighty percent of your maximal healthy exercise heart rate and above, you enter the anaerobic training range which is a very high intensity level where you can build even greater endurance while maximally challenging your body and burning even more calories. This shouldn’t be attempted until you’ve maximized your fitness at the lower levels of training.

Do you want to really burn some calories? The most effective way to boost your metabolism and burn more fat and calories is to alternate periods of exercise in the lowest heart rate zone of fifty to sixty percent of maximum with short bursts of training in the anerobic training zone where your average exercise heart rate reaches the eighty percent zone. By using this “interval” type training you not only burn more calories while exercising, you burn calories at a higher rate even after you stop. Of course this should only be attempted after you’ve conditioned yourself at a lower healthy exercise heart rate.

To monitor and maintain a healthy exercise heart rate, you can buy a reliable heart rate monitor for as little as $50.00 which will give you constant feedback regarding your exercise heart rate. This can help to ensure you’re working within your target healthy exercise heart rate zone. You can also check your average heart rate by counting the carotid pulsations in your neck for at fifteen seconds and multiplying by four. Before attempting any type of workout that raises your heart rate, particularly if you’ll be doing interval training, see your doctor for a full physical.

The rewards of this type of program that consistently raises your average exercise heart rate into the aerobic training zone alternating with sessions of interval training during alternate workout days can bring you the results you’re looking for. Why not give them a try?

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