If you’ve been to a gym or worked out with a personal trainer, you may have heard the term target heart rate (THR) zone. But even if you knew that you were supposed to try to keep your heart rate within that zone, did you know what it meant? Or how to calculate it?
Chances are, you don't, unless someone gave you a number to shoot for, and you were able to track it on your fitness tracker or a heart monitor.
What is a Target Heart Rate Zone?
This number is an indication of how fast your heart is beating. This provides you with information about how intensely you are exercising. Keeping your heart rate within that zone during your workout provides the most aerobic benefits.
For example, you may be shooting to meet the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week. You can determine if you’re meeting that intensity level based on your heart rate.
Determine Your Target Heart Rate Zone
Calculating target heart rate may differ from person to person, especially if you have a medical condition. You should check with your doctor to determine the best target heart rate for you.
But as a general rule of thumb, according to the CDC, you can determine your target heart rate by:
- Calculating your maximum heart rate (MHR)
- Shoot for a target heart rate when exercising that is 64-76% of your maximum heart rate
Your maximum heart rate is based on your age. To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. If you are:
- 30, your MHR = 220-30 = 190 bpm
- 40, your MHR = 220-40 = 180 bpm
- 50, your MHR = 220-50 = 170 bpm
To calculate your target heart rate (THR) zone, multiply your MHR by 64% and 76%. These numbers give you the low and high numbers that your heart rate should stay within most of the time while exercising at a moderate intensity level. If you are:
- 30, your THR is 122-144 bpm
- 40, your THR is 115-137 bpm
- 50, your THR is 109-129 bpm
How To Know You're in the Zone
While you are exercising, you can determine your heart rate by checking your fitness tracker, a heart monitor, an Apple watch, or doing it the old-fashioned way.
To check your pulse manually, place the tips of your index and middle fingers over the radial pulse on your wrist and press lightly. Count the number of heartbeats for 30 seconds and multiply by 2. This will give you the number of beats per minute (bpm). You’ll have to briefly stop exercising to check it this way.
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