Walking the dog, doing housework or stretching during the day are all good physical activities. To be sure that you are doing activities that are good for your heart, while staying at a level that is safe for you, aim for a “target heart rate”. This range of numbers is the sweet spot that reflects how fast your heart should be beating to get the most from your work out while not overexerting yourself. To measure your heart rate, simply check your pulse by placing your index and third fingers on your neck to the side of your windpipe or place two fingers on the thumb side of your wrist. Count the number of beats in a minute. You can also wear a fitness tracking device or use a treadmill or other machine that calculates your heart rate. Once you know how to take your heart rate, use these steps to monitor your heart rate:
Find your resting heart rate. Measure your heart rate when you’re at rest. A good time to check is in the morning after you’ve had a good night’s sleep and before you have any coffee.
Know your maximum and target heart rate. The chart below shows average figures to use as a general guide from the American Heart Association. In the age category closest to yours, read across to find out your target heart rates.
Age Target HR Zone 50-85% Avg Max Heart Rate, 100%
20 YRS 100-170 bpm 200 bpm
30 YRS 95-162 bpm 190 bpm
35 YRS 93-157 bpm 185 bpm
40 YRS 90-153 bpm 180 bpm
45 YRS 88-149 bpm 175 bpm
50 YRS 85-145 bpm 170 bpm
55 YRS 83-140 bpm 165 bpm
60 YRS 80-136 bpm 160 bpm
65 YRS 78-132 bpm 155 bpm
70 YRS 75-128 bpm 150 bpm
(bpm: beats per minute)
Hit The Target. As you exercise, periodically check your heart rate. If your heart rate is too high, lower the intensity of your work out. If it is too low, you may want to push yourself to exercise a little harder.
If you are just starting out, the American Heart Association recommends aiming for the lower range of your target zone and to gradually build up.
“Life isn’t measured in minutes, but in heartbeats.” Joan Lowery Nixon