Health and Fitness 101: What is Your Target Heart Rate?

How do I determine my target heart rate?

The general formula for the average person is 220 age X 60% and X 90% of HRmax. For example, a 30 year old would calculate his target zone using the above formula: 220-30=190.  190x.60=114 and 190x.90=171. This individual would try to keep his heart rate between 114 (low end) and 171 (high end) beats per minute. 

The Karvonen Formula calculates your heart rate reserve range. To calculate it, take your pulse for one minute on three successive mornings upon waking up. (We will be using the case of a 30 year old male whose resting pulse was 69,70 and 71 for an average of 70 over the 3 days.)

   Calculate target heart rate by subtracting your age from 220 

   Subtract your average resting heart rate from target heart rate 

The lower
boundary of the percentage range is 50% of this plus your resting heart rate
[(120 x .5) + 70 = 130]. The higher boundary is 85% plus your RHR [(120 x .85)
+ 70 =172].  Using the Karvonen Formula for percentage of heart rate
reserve, this 30 year old man should be working between 130 and 172 BPM. 


Training Zones To Be Familiar With:

Healthy Heart Zone (Warm
up) --- 50 - 60% of maximum heart rate: The easiest zone and probably the best
zone for people just starting a fitness program. It can also be used as a warm
up for more serious walkers. This zone has been shown to help decrease body
fat, blood pressure and cholesterol. It also decreases the risk of degenerative
diseases and has a low risk of injury. 85% of calories burned in this zone are


Fitness Zone (Fat Burning)
--- 60 - 70% of maximum heart rate: This zone provides the same benefits as the
healthy heart zone, but is more intense and burns more total calories. The
percent of fat calories is still 85%.


Aerobic Zone (Endurance
Training) --- 70 - 80% of maximum heart rate: The aerobic zone will improve
your cardiovascular and respiratory system AND increase the size and strength
of your heart. This is the preferred zone if you are training for an endurance
event. More calories are burned with 50% from fat.


Anaerobic Zone
(Performance Training) --- 80 - 90% of maximum heart rate: Benefits of this
zone include an improved VO2 maximum (the highest amount of oxygen one can
consume during exercise) and thus an improved cardiorespiratory system, and a
higher lactate tolerance ability which means your endurance will improve and you'll
be able to fight fatigue better. This is a high intensity zone burning more
calories, 15 % from fat.


Red Line (Maximum Effort)
--- 90 - 100% of maximum heart rate: Although this zone burns the highest
number of calories, it is very intense. Most people can only stay in this zone
for short periods. You should only train in this zone if you are in very good
shape and have been cleared by a physician to do so.

Websites that offer heart rate caluculators:

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