Getting more active is important for everyone. Using your target heart rate can help find the sweet spot of exercise that is just right for you.
What is target heart rate?
Your heart rate, or pulse, is how many times your heart beats per minute. A target heart rate is a heart rate goal when being active. It is a way to measure how much your heart is pumping during activity. This is different from your resting heart rate. A resting heart rate is your pulse when the body is at rest. A normal resting heart rate for most adults is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Using your target heart rate can measure the intensity of your exercise and track your fitness level.
Important: Certain medications and health conditions can affect heart rate. Check with your healthcare provider if you have questions about your heart rate.
How do I know what my target heart rate is?
Target heart rate goals change with age and fitness level. To get started, calculate 220 – your age. This gives you an estimated maximum heart rate. Your maximum heart rate is an estimate of how fast your heart can beat. Let’s use an example. If you are 56 years old, your estimated maximum heart rate would be 220 – 56 = 164.
This number will be used to find your target heart rate zone. Your target heart rate changes with the intensity of your exercise. The American Heart Association suggests adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week.
Moderate-Intensity Exercise: 64-76% of Maximum Heart Rate. Includes brisk walking, jogging, strength training and swimming.
Vigorous-Intensity Exercise: 77-93% of Maximum Heart Rate. Includes running, heavy weightlifting, jump training and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
Use the chart below to estimate your target heart rate based on age and activity level. You can also use an online calculator or fitness tracker to find your target heart rate.
How do I find my heart rate?
Check your pulse to see if you are in your target heart rate zone. First, briefly stop exercising. Check your pulse on the inside of your wrist or neck. Use the tips of two fingers to find your pulse. Do not use your thumb. Use a stopwatch or clock that shows seconds. When you find your pulse, count it for 30 seconds. Multiply it by two. This will give you your heart rate. You can also check your heart rate with a smartwatch, fitness tracker or heart rate monitor.
What if I’m not in my target heart rate range?
If your heart rate isn’t in your target goal, adjust your exercise. If you are just starting out, aim for the lower end of your target heart rate. Slowly increase your exercise intensity within your target heart rate goal. If your heart rate is too high, lower the intensity of your exercise. If it is too low, aim to push yourself a little harder. It can take some trial and error to find the level of exercise that fits your goals. Use your target heart rate as an estimate. Listen to your body. Use this chart to measure your exercise intensity. You got this!
Have more questions? Schedule a session with a coach.