On Target

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