Your Target Heart Rate and How to Check It

Your Target Heart Rate is a handy calculation which helps you to make sure that you're neither working too hard nor taking it too easy when you exercise.

It can be a useful measurement to have in mind if you're just starting out on a menopausal weight loss program.

When you have anaerobic exercise session, the aim is to get your heart working faster than usual and using more oxygen. Your heart needs to be pumping at between 60 and 80% of the maximum rate of oxygen use that it's capable of achieving.

It's very simple to work out, and gives you a good base line estimate to work from.

How to calculate your Target Heart Rate

First, work out your Maximum Heart Rate. This is simply 220, minus your age. So, if you are 45, your Maximum Heart Rate is 175.

To find the range of your Target Heart Rate, first multiply your Maximum Heart Rate by 0.6. For our 45-year-old, this would be 105.

Then multiply your Maximum Heart Rate by 0.85 to get the upper figure in the range. In our example, this figure would be 148, giving a 45-year-old a Target Heart Rate of 105-148.

How to measure your pulse

To check your heart rate, both before and during aerobic exercise, you need to take your pulse. You can either do this with a heart rate monitor, or by hand.

To practise feeling your pulse, take a resting heart rate reading, by lightly pressing the first two fingers of your hand on the inside of the wrist of your other hand, below your thumb (just above the area where you would wear a watch). You should be able to feel a gentle pulse.

Using a watch with a second-hand, or a stop watch, count the number of beats in 30 seconds and multiply by 2. This is your resting heart beat over 1 minute.

When you want to take your pulse during exercise, make sure you keep moving at the same time. You can jog on the spot, or keep walking on the treadmill. Take your pulse in the same way, but count for just 6 seconds, and multiply the result by 10. See how the result measures up against your Target Heart Rate, and either speed up or slow down to reach the right heart rate.

Is Target Heart Rate accurate?

It's fine to use this measurement to assess your performance in your aerobic exercise program, but inaccuracies can creep in for various reasons. You might mis-count your pulse, and because this simple calculation doesn't compare the very generalised Maximum Heart Rate to your own resting heart rate, it might not be 100% correct for you. Nonetheless, it's a handy way to check how you're doing when you first start out exercising.

For a more accurate and consistent reading, consider using a heart rate monitor.

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Exercise facts

Taking your pulse while exercising is fiddly. You can check your progress easily, just by thinking about how you feel when exercising.

Are you putting in a lot of effort? Could you talk at the same time? Could you sing a song? If you answered Yes, No and No, you're probably doing fine.


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