When you exercise, your heart beats faster to meet the demand for more blood and oxygen by the muscles of the body. The more intense the activity, the faster your heart will beat. Therefore, monitoring your heart rate during exercise is a good way to assess intensity. For the majority of aerobic enthusiasts, there is a range of exercise intensities that is described as safe and effective for promoting cardiovascular benefits.
Here are a few terms you should be familiar with:
1. Maximum heart rate:
This number is related to your age. As we grow older, our hearts start to beat a little more slowly. To estimate your maximum heart rate, simply subtract your age from the number 220. This method gives us the predicted maximum heart rate. We obtain your true maximum heart rate during our Preventive Health Assessment by doing a stress test. A stress test, sometimes called a treadmill test or exercise test, helps us determine how well your heart handles stress or work. As your body works harder during the test, it requires more oxygen, so the heart must pump more blood. The test can show if the blood supply is reduced in the arteries that supply the heart and identify potential heart health issues.
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2. Target heart-rate zone:
This is the number of beats per minute (bpm) at which your heart should be beating during aerobic exercise. For most healthy individuals, this range is 50 to 80 percent of your maximal heart rate.
What does this recommended heart-rate range mean?
Now that you’ve determined your target heart-rate zone, you need to know how to put that information to good use. These numbers serve as a guideline – an indicator of how hard you should be exercising.
Those just beginning an aerobic program should aim for the low end of the zone (50%) and pick up the intensity as they become more comfortable with their workouts. More fit individuals, or those who are training for competitive events, may want to aim for the higher end of the zone (80%).
Keep in mind that the target heart-rate zone is recommended for those of you without any health problems. Additionally, if you are taking medications that alter the heart rate, you should consult with your Kinesiologist for recommended exercise intensity.Your target heart changes over time as your fitness level improves, so be sure to ask your Kinesiologist for your new target heart rate.
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