Health Education & Wellness
Aerobic Exercise Intensity and Target Heart Rate

When starting an exercise program, calculating a target heart rate zone can be very beneficial to ensure that you are exercising safely and effectively.  Heart rates are referred to in “beats per minute” or bpm.  The “target” heart rate zone is between 65-85% of your maximum predicted heart rate.  In order to calculate Heart Rate Training Zones, you first need to calculate your Maximum Heart Rate.  This is determined by your age: 

220 – Age = Maximum Heart Rate

For Example:  A 55-year-old would have the following calculation for Max Heart Rate:

220 – 55 years = 165 beats per minute, or bpm

To calculate their target heart rate zone (65-85%):
Max heart rate  x  target % = Target Heart Rate
165  x  65% (or .65) = 107 bpm
165  x  85% (or .85) = 140 bpm

This person’s target heart rate zone is 107 bpm to 140 bpm.
 

 


Use this chart to estimate your heart rate in bpm for each intensity zone

 

50%

55%

65%

75%

85%

95%

Age

(220-Age) x .5

(220-Age) x .55

(220-Age) x .65

(220-Age) x .75

(220-Age) x .85

(220-Age) x .95

20

100

110

130

150

170

190

25

97.5

107.25

126.75

146.25

165.75

185.25

30

95

104.5

123.5

142.5

161.5

180.5

35

92.5

101.75

120.25

138.75

157.25

175.75

40

90

99

117

135

153

171

45

87.5

96.25

113.75

131.25

148.75

166.25

50

85

93.5

110.5

127.5

144.5

161.5

55

82.5

90.75

107.25

123.75

140.25

156.75

60

80

88

104

120

136

152

65

77.5

85.25

100.75

116.25

131.75

147.25

 

 
Using “Target Heart Rate” to Guide Exercise Intensity

Target Heart Rate

The Target Heart Rate Zone (65-85% of Maximum Heart Rate) is an area of moderate intensity activity that leads to improvements in your aerobic capacity and burns fat.  This zone provides many benefits for all fitness levels, including those who want to lose weight, those who are training for an athletic event, or those who are looking to have more energy and get fit. 

Exercising below this zone (50-65% of Maximum Heart Rate) is the Fat Burning Zone, because at this intensity, fat is metabolized for energy use at a higher rate.  This intensity is often recommended to individuals who are extremely de-conditioned or new to exercising.  While the name of this zone leads you believe that you will burn more fat at this zone, there is less cardiovascular (heart) benefit at this zone and less overall caloric burn.  Again, if you are de-conditioned, have a heart or respiratory disease, or are new to exercising this would be an appropriate zone for you.   

The High Intensity/Anaerobic Zone (85-100% of Max Heart Rate) is recommended for highly fit individuals, such as athletes.  This zone places a high demand on the cardiovascular system and does not burn much fat.  Individuals may use this zone as part of “interval training”, where your heart rate reaches the High Intensity Zone for a short period (less than 60 seconds) and is allowed to recover to the Target Heart Rate Zone (65-85% of Max Heart Rate) for a period of time (60 seconds to 4 minutes).

Warm Up and Cool Down
Always remember to start each exercise session with an easy warm-up.  You can use a heart rate zone of less than 50% of Max Heart Rate to guide your warm-up.  As a general guideline, a warm-up can be something as simple as walking for 5 to 10 minutes or just a slower version of the exercise you are going to perform.  Additionally, take 5-10 minutes after your exercise to do a cool-down.  Slow down your movement, stretch and try to get your heart rate back down to less than 50% of Max Heart Rate.

 

Our ACSM-certified exercise physiologists can design an appropriate fitness program for you through a Preventive Exercise session. Contact us at 376-2109 for more information.


If you have any existing medical conditions or other concerns about starting a new exercise program, see your personal healthcare provider first.

 

 

 

 

Last Updated 09/30/2013 8:48 AM