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Understanding Your Heart Rate


Understanding Your Heart Rate

Think you know what you are looking at when the exercise machine flashes your Heart Rate across its screen? Not all exercise fanatics are as clued in as we would like to think. You may have exercised for years, but still don’t fully understand what the machines or monitors are telling you when displaying your heart rate.



How Does It Work?

There are different stages in which your heart rate can be monitored. When you aren’t engaging in any sort of activity your heart will be in its ‘resting rate’, as physical activity increases your heart rate rises according to your intensity. However, each person has a maximum heart rate at which they function. For optimum exercise it’s important to understand these levels and determine your target zone for exercising.

If you don’t have a heart rate monitor or have access to one on the machine you are using, you can use your wrists, side of your neck, or top of your foot to find your pulse. To determine your resting rate you would test your pulse while your heart is doing the lowest amount of pumping. The healthy resting rate falls between 60 to100 beats per minute.

Moderate exercise won’t influence the resting heart rate much, but when you are extremely fit (think Olympic athletes) you might see a resting rate as low as 40. For those individuals, their heart muscles don’t have to work as hard to pump blood as the average sedentary person.

What Is Your Maximum Heart Rate?

Your maximum heart rate is the maximum numbers of beats per minute that your heart can handle. Don’t try to test this without the supervision of a fitness professional. Determine your maximum heart rate by pushing your body to its utmost limit. After testing your beats per minute, every minute, your body will reach a maximum that it won’t cross even if your exercise intensity is increasing.

Your Target Zones

Once you’ve determined your maximum heart rate you will be able to establish the optimum levels in which you have to perform your exercises. Your maximum heart rate doesn’t change according to your fitness levels.

When engaging in aerobic exercise you want to keep your heart rate between 60 and 80 beats per minute for at least 20 minutes. Work out your ideal rate:

  • Multiply your Maximum Heart Rate by 0.6 to determine your minimum training pace.
  • Multiply your Maximum Heart Rate by 0.8 to determine your maximum training pace.

Your target zone is the beats per minute between these two numbers. If you keep your heart rate between these two numbers you will be making the most of your fitness routine, burn fat and improve your health.

Do you monitor your heart rate while you’re working out? What have you learned by doing so?

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