Published on January 27, 2022

Know Your Heart Rate

Know Your Heart Rate

Because your heart circulates oxygen and nutrient-rich blood in your body, knowing your heart rate can be important, especially during physical activity.

To check your heart rate, use two figures (not your thumb) and hold them on the thumb side of your wrist or on your neck. Count your pulse for 10 seconds, then multiply that number by 6 to find your beats per minute (bpm).Your RESTING HEART RATE is how many beats per minute you count while at rest. The average for adults is between 60-100 bpm.

To determine MAXIMUM HEART RATE use the formula 220-Age = Maximum Heart Rate

For example, if you are 52 years old, you would use the formula: 220 - 52 = 168

Your heart rate should not exceed this number while exercising. If it does, you may be exercising too vigorously.

TARGET HEART RATE is 50%-85% of your maximum heart rate.

Continuing with the above example:

168 x .50 = 84 bpm

168 x .85 = 142.8 bpm

This means you should aim for your heart rate to be between 84 – 142 bpm when exercising.

If your heart rate is too high, you’re over-exerting yourself and need to slow down. If your heart rate is too low, and the intensity feels “light” or “moderate,” you may want to push yourself to exercise a little harder.

During the first few weeks of working out, aim for the lower range of your target zone (50 percent) and gradually build up to the higher range (85 percent).

After six months or more, you may be able to exercise comfortably at up to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate.

This is not an absolute value, but it’s a good tool to have. If you don’t want to use these numbers, remember, if you’re not able to carry on a conversation while exercising it may be a bit too much.

If you have a heart condition or you’re in cardiac rehab, talk to a healthcare provider about what exercises you can do, what your target heart rate should be, and whether you need to be monitored during physical activity.

A few high blood pressure medications lower the maximum heart rate and thus the target zone rate. If you're taking such medicine, call your healthcare provider to find out if you need to use a lower target heart rate.