What’s one of the best ways to boost your heart health? Exercise! But be careful not to over-do it. Pushing too hard can deprive your muscles of needed oxygen, which leads to soreness and fatigue. In order to gain maximum health benefits from working out, the key is to reach–and maintain–your target heart rate.
It’s best to exercise within your target zone for 20 to 60 minutes per session. To find your target heart rate, choose one of two methods:
1. The Talk Test
You’ve found the right intensity if you can carry on a brief conversation while exercising. If you can easily carry on a long conversation, try pushing a little harder. But decrease your intensity if you have trouble getting out a sentence.
2. The Formula
For those who prefer the scientific method, follow this simple formula: 220 minus your age, multiplied by .55 to .85. In other words, your target heart rate is between 55 percent and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate.
For example, for a healthy 40-year-old, target heart rate is between 99 and 153 beats per minute.
220 – 40 = 180 (max heart rate)
180 x .55 = 99
180 x .85 = 153
Be aware these numbers are for the average person. Seasoned athletes or people with a heart condition may follow different guidelines. Ask your doctor what’s right for you.