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Understanding Your Target Heart Rate

Any exercise is usually better than no exercise, but to be sure you’re getting the most out of your workout and maintaining a level that’s safe for you, you need to understand your target heart rate. Think of it as the “sweet spot” between not exercising hard enough and overexerting. Utilizing this sweet spot will help you improve your cardiorespiratory fitness and means your heart and lungs will become stronger.

In order to find your target heart rate, you’ll first need to know how to find your heart rate. Since heart rate is expressed in beats per minute, the easiest way is to find your pulse (inside your wrist, on the thumb side, is a good place to find it) and count the number of beats in a minute. Alternatively, you can take your pulse for 30 seconds and double it, or for 15 seconds and quadruple it, but those are less accurate. Counted while resting will give you your “resting heart rate”, which is a good indication of your fitness level. The average resting heart rate 80, but the more fit you are, the lower yours will be (for very fit people, it’s in the range of 40 to 50 beats per minute).

Your target heart rate is a range of numbers that reflect how fast your heart should be beating when you exercise. It’s usually expressed as a percentage (usually between 60 percent and 85 percent) of your maximum safe heart rate. A simple way to calculate your max heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. So for a 40-year-old, their maximum heart rate is 220 minus 40, or 180 beats per minute. At a 60% exertion level (the low end of your target heart rate), their target would be 60% of their maximum or 108 beats per minute. At an 85% exertion level, their target would be 153 beats per minute. Therefore, the

target heart rate that a 40-year-old would aim for during exercise is 108 to 153 beats per minute.

You can skip the math by using an online calculator (, getting a wearable fitness tracker, or exercise on a treadmill or other machine that calculates target heart rate for you!

This post is intended to provide you with information to better understand your overall health. Always consult with a qualified physician for diagnosis.

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