Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans. A healthy heart is essential to a healthy body and being physically fit is one of the best ways to keep a heart healthy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 40 percent of Americans are at risk for heart disease because of physical inactivity. Your level of fitness will affect your heart rate, but whether you’re sedentary or an athlete you should monitor your heart rate during exercise to stay within safety guidelines.
Resting Heart Rate
Your resting heart rate is how hard your heart works when you aren’t exercising. Try to take your resting pulse the first thing in the morning before you get up. Hold your first two fingers on your wrist just under the thumb or on your neck next to your Adam’s apple. Hold for 30 seconds, counting the beats. Multiply by two to find your pulse rate. You will use this same method during or after exercise, or any time you need to find your heart rate. According to MayoClinic.com your heart rate is normally between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Athletes will have a lower rate, around 40 beats per minute.
Maximum Heart Rate
You need to know your maximum heart rate to find your ideal rate while exercising. Find your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220 if you’re male. Based on new research, women should use a slightly more complicated formula. Calculate 88 percent of your age and subtract that from 206. You never want your heart to go over your maximum heart rate.
Target Heart Rate
Your target heart rate is the rate you want to attain while exercising. Find your target rate by multiplying your maximum heart rate by 50 percent and 85 percent. If you’ve been leading a sedentary lifestyle and are just starting an exercise program you want to stay closer to the lower part of your target rate, according to the American Heart Association. The more fit you are, the harder you can work to reach the upper limit of your target rate.
You should be putting in 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity every week for maximum health benefits, according to the American Heart Association. You can break that up into chunks as small as 10 minutes as long as you raise your heart rate. Go slow if you’re just starting out. Brisk walking is a good physical activity for beginners. You should have enough breath to speak in short sentences but not carry on a conversation while exercising. Check your heart rate periodically while exercising.
Almost everyone can benefit from elevating the heart rate through exercise for sustained periods, but that doesn’t always apply to everyone. You may need to consult a physician before starting an exercise regime if you have certain health issues, according to MayoClinic.com. These issues include asthma, a history of heart attack or heart disease, arthiritis, diabetes, liver disease and kidney problems. If you’re overweight, smoke or have high blood pressure, consult a health care professional to tailor an exercise program to your needs.
American Heart Association: Physical Activity and Blood Pressure
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Heart Disease Facts
MayoClinic.com: Exercise: When to Check With Your Doctor First
MayoClinic.com: What’s a Normal Resting Heart Rate
Institute for Women’s Health Research: Measuring Peak Heart Rate in Women