exercising for a healthy heart

How Hard Should You Exercise For A Healthy Heart?

The fitness centres and gyms fill up this time of the year with folks eager to meet their New Year goals. Many of you might jump into exercise without considering your existing fitness status, medical issues, medication side effects and how intensely you should be exercising.

When you exercise, your heart beats faster to meet the demand for more blood and oxygen by the muscles of the body. The more intense the activity, the faster your heart will beat. Therefore, monitoring your heart rate during exercise can be an excellent way to monitor exercise intensity.

For the majority of aerobic enthusiasts, there is a range of exercise intensities that is described as safe and effective for promoting cardiovascular benefits. To determine what range is best for you, you’ll need to be familiar with a few terms.

1. Maximal heart rate:
This number is related to your age. As we grow older, our hearts start to beat a little more slowly. To estimate your maximal heart rate, simply subtract your age from the number 220. This method gives us the predicted maximum heart rate. We obtain your true maximum heart rate here at the Centre by doing a stress test on everybody.

2. Target heart-rate zone:
This is the number of beats per minute (bpm) at which your heart should be beating during aerobic exercise. For most healthy individuals, this range is 50 to 80 percent of your maximal heart rate.

What does this recommended heart-rate range mean?

Now that you’ve determined your target heart-rate zone, you need to know how to put that information to good use. These numbers serve as a guideline – an indicator of how hard you should be exercising.

Those just beginning an aerobic program should aim for the low end of the zone (50%) and pick up the intensity as they become more comfortable with their workouts. More fit individuals, or those who are training for competitive events, may want to aim for the higher end of the zone (80%).

Keep in mind that the target heart-rate zone is recommended for those of you without any health problems. Additionally, if you are taking medications that alter the heart rate, you should consult with your Kinesiologist at the Centre for recommended exercise intensity. Your target heart changes over time as your fitness level improves, so be sure to ask your Kinesiologist for your new target heart rate.

Please consult your Copeman Healthcare physician before beginning a new fitness routine.