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Heart Rate Based Exercise

Exercise in a Safe Range With the Aid of Heart Rate Monitoring

One of the best ways to monitor physical activity intensity is to determine whether a person's pulse or heart rate is within the target zone during physical activity. Heart rate monitoring has become very popular and publicized in recent years through the publication of various books and the development of personal heart rate monitors. These devices use the same technology as an electrocardiograph (ECG or EKG), and are accurate enough for use in a fitness setting.

For moderate-intensity physical activity, a person's target heart rate should be 50 to 70% of his or her maximum heart rate. This maximum rate is based on the person's age. An estimate of a person's maximum age-related heart rate can be obtained by subtracting the person's age from 220. For example, for a 50-year-old person, the estimated maximum age-related heart rate would be calculated as 220 - 50 years = 170 beats per minute (bpm). The 50% and 70% levels would be:

  • 50% level: 170 x 0.50 = 85 bpm, and
  • 70% level: 170 x 0.70 = 119 bpm

Thus, moderate-intensity physical activity for a 50-year-old person will require that the heart rate remains between 85 and 119 bpm during physical activity.

Next: Targeting Heart Rate for Vigorous Exercise

Adapted from: Target Heart Rate and Estimated Maximum Heart Rate


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