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In the Zone

We all know by now that exercise is important, regardless of your goal. Whether you are trying to build muscle, lose weight, or just get healthier, exercise is the way to go. How do you know if you’re doing enough…or too much?! Calculate your heart rate!

First, you want to take your resting heart rate. This is the number of times your heart beats per minute while at rest. You can test this out in the morning after you’ve had a good night’s sleep & before you get out of bed. For children 10 & older and adults (including seniors), the average resting heart rate is 60-100 beats per minute. For well-trained athletes, the average is 40-60 beats per minute.

Next, you want to get your maximum heart rate. This is the maximum number of times your heart should beat per minute during exercise. The basic way to calculate your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. For example, if you’re 45 years old, subtract 45 from 220 to get a maximum heart rate of 175. Heart rate during moderately intense activities is about 50-69% of your maximum heart rate, whereas heart rate during hard physical activity is about 70% to less than 90% of the maximum heart rate. Below is a chart from the American Heart Association:


Target HR Zone 50-85%

Average Maximum Heart Rate, 100%

20 years

100-170 beats per minute

200 beats per minute

30 years

95-162 beats per minute

190 beats per minute

​35 years

93-157 beats per minute

185 beats per minute

40 years

90-153 beats per minute

180 beats per minute

45 years

88-149 beats per minute

​175 beats per minute

50 years

85-145 beats per minute

170 beats per minute

55 years

​83-140 beats per minute

165 beats per minute

60 years

80-136 beats per minute

​160 beats per minute

65 years

78-132 beats per minute

​155 beats per minute

70 years

75-128 beats per minute

150 beats per minute

It’s important to note that there are a few high blood pressure medications that will lower the maximum heart rate and thus, the target zone rate. If you’re taking any such medication, contact your physician to find out if you should aim for a lower target heart rate. During the first few weeks of working out, aim for the lower range of your target zone (50 percent) and gradually build up to the higher range (85 percent). After six months or more, you may be able to exercise comfortably at up to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. If you have a heart condition or you’re in cardiac rehab, talk to a healthcare professional about what exercises you can engage in, what your target heart rate should be, and whether or not you need to be monitored during physical activity. This will also help you to choose the types of physical activity that are appropriate for your current fitness level and health goals, because some activities are safer than others.

by Gina Stallone

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