Change Your Choices

Change Your Life…Tips for a healthier you

Can you hit your Target?

on May 25, 2011

I’m talking about your target heart rate- do you know what it is and do you get there often enough?  First, a real life story.

The COO of our supermarket chain recently had a pacemaker installed and he shared his experience with us.  He just turned 60, non-smoker, healthy weight and exercises frequently.  Long story short, he fainted not once, but twice so he decided to get checked out.  Turns out his heart has an electrical problem so a pacemaker was needed to keep his heart in rhythm.  It was not a major surgery and he can go back to being as active as ever. 

 What do we learn from this?
Listen to your body.  He had some flutterings before (which is fairly common) but as it got worse, he started to pay attention

-GO TO THE DOCTOR.  You dodn’t have to wait until you pass out.  If things don’t seem quite right, get checked.  Even if things seem OK, get a yearly physical. If your car was sputtering you wouldn’t hesitate to see a mechanic!

-You need to exercise your heart. Your heart needs exercise to keep it strong and healthy.  We tend to baby our hearts and are afraid to let it beat hard.  This is where your target heart rate comes into play.

What is Target Heart Rate?
There is alot of medical terminology and smart sounding stuff to explain it but I’m not a doctor and I’m not that smart so I am dumbing it down.  There are more accurate methods of checking your heart rate and calculating your max rate, but this system gives you an accurate starting point.  PLEASE- check with your doctor if you have any questions. 

What does this mean?  
 Basically, you need to get your heart rate up to your max heart rate and keep it there for 30 minutes to get the most benefit.  However, if you are just starting to exercise, you need to pace yourself so aim at the lowest part of your target zone during the first few weeks. Gradually build up to the higher part of your target zone . After six months or more of regular exercise, you may be able to exercise comfortably slightly higher than the top of your range but don’t go over the “do not exceed” number.  Again, there are variables to this such as medication or blood pressure problems so check with your doctor if you have questions.

How should you check? 
 I prefer to count my pulse for 10 seconds and use the chart below to see where I am.  Finding your pulse in your neck, just below your jawbone hinge, is the easiest but you can use your wrist as well.  Count the beats for 10 seconds and then check the numbers below:

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Heart Rate while Exercising -count for 10 seconds.  Beginners stay to the low end. 
Age Low end High end Don’t exceed
25 16 24 33
30 16 24 32
35 15 33 31
40 15 23 30
45 15 22 29
50 14 21 28
55 14 21 28
60 13 20 27
65 13 19 26

If your heart rate is not in the zone for your age, you need to push yourself harder- if this is new to you it will feel odd and, yes, you will sweat!  If at any time you get dizzy, stop and make an appointment to see your doctor.  If you are just tired- KEEP PUSHING!! 

Youl also need to cool down and let your pulse go back to its normal rate (probably around 10 beats in 10 seconds as an average)before stopping activity.  Walk slowly, stretch and drink water- never stop completely when your heart is beating hard as you might get lightheaded or pass out.  Cooling down is as important as speeding up! 

At the risk of being repetitive, this is not the most accurate measurement but it is a general guideline.  See you doctor or trainer for more information. 

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