Target Heart Rate
How Do I Take My Pulse?
- Place the tips of your index (second finger) and third finger on the palm side of your other wrist, below the base of the thumb. Or, place the tips of your index and second finger on your lower neck, on either side of your windpipe.
- Press lightly with your fingers until you feel the blood pulsing beneath your fingers. You may need to move your fingers around slightly up or down until you feel the pulsing.
- Look at a watch or clock with a second hand.
- Count the beats you feel for 10 seconds. Multiply this number by 6 to get your heart rate (pulse) per minute.
Your actual maximum heart rate can be determined by a graded exercise test. Note that some medications and medical conditions may affect your maximum heart rate. If you are taking medications or have a medical condition such as heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes, always ask your doctor if your maximum heart rate (and target heart rate) should be adjusted.
What Is Target Heart Rate?
Usually this is when your exercise heart rate (pulse) is 60%-80% of your maximum heart rate. You gain the most benefits and lessen the risks when you exercise in your target heart rate zone.
In some cases, your doctor may decrease your target heart rate zone to begin with 50%.
Stop exercising if your heart rate during the activity exceeds your target heart rate. This increases both risks of heart and over-use injuries and does not add any extra benefit.
Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program. Your doctor can help you find a program and target heart rate zone that matches your needs, goals and physical condition.
When beginning an exercise program, you may need to gradually build up to a level that is within your target heart rate zone, especially if you have not exercised regularly before. If the exercise feels too hard, slow down. You will reduce your risk of injury and enjoy the exercise more if you don't try to over-do it!
To find out if you are exercising in your target zone (between 60%-80% of your maximum heart rate), stop exercising and check your pulse. If your pulse is below your target zone you may increase your rate of exercise. If your pulse is above your target zone, decrease your rate of exercise.