Get in the Zone: Target Heart Rate Zones

Two men check their heart rates after exercising. How do you know if your intensity level is too high or too low when you’re exercising? You can measure the beating of your heart. Use your heart rate to monitor the intensity of your physical activity and check if you’re in the target heart rate zone during a workout, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

The AHA adds that it’s important to first know your resting heart rate – how many times per minute your heart beats while at rest – before calculating and monitoring your target training heart rate. You can check your resting heart rate before you go to sleep or after you wake up in the morning.

How to Check Your Pulse

Take your pulse at your neck, wrist or chest. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes how to take your pulse at your wrist:

  • Lightly press the tips of your index and middle fingers on the artery on the inside of your wrist (below your thumb).
  • Count the number of heartbeats in 60 seconds.

Minimums and Maximums

The National Institutes of Health notes that the average resting heart rate for adults, seniors and children, age 10 and older, is 60 to 100 beats per minute. By comparison, the average for a well-trained athlete is 40 to 60 beats per minute.

According to the AHA, you can calculate your training heart rate during your workout by periodically taking your pulse. After counting your pulse for 10 seconds, multiply that number by six to determine your beats per minute.

The organization recommends that you remain within 50 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. Your target heart rate is in this range.

Your maximum heart rate is the maximum amount of times per minute that your heart should beat during a workout, according to the Mayo Clinic. You can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. The organization adds that maximum heart rate just serves as a guide, and your maximum heart rate may be higher or lower, some days by as many as 15 to 20 beats per minute.

Talk with your health care provider for more information about your target heart rate and what exercises are recommended for you, and to discuss any high blood pressure medication you’re taking, which might affect your target zone rate.