What is My Target Heart Rate During Exercise?

Victoria Burke by Victoria Burke | Licensed since 2011
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This article was updated on: 08/14/2018

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According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise heart rate offers an objective look at exercise intensity, more than just how you feel. Heart rate and pulse are the same thing and are the number of times your heart beats in one minute. Achieving your target heart rate is important to maximize the benefits of exercise. Overdoing it can put you at risk for injury, burnout, and soreness, according to the Mayo Clinic. But not achieving a high enough exercise intensity may result you in not meeting goals for fitness or weight loss.

What is target heart rate by age?

Your predicted maximum heart rate decreases with age, as does your target heart rate. The formula for determining your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. Then your target rate is usually 60 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Your target heart rate is calculated as a range, not just one number.

Below are some examples of target heart rates by age:

Age 20 40 60 80
Predicted maximum heart rate 200 180 160 140
Target heart rate zone (60-85%) 120-170 108-153 96-136 84-119

Be sure to consult a physician before beginning a new exercise program. The Cleveland Clinic also warns about exceeding 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. Exercise intensity at that level increases risk to your heart and skeletal system and provides minimal additional health benefits.

The adult resting heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

How can I know my heart rate when exercising?

You can take your exercise heart rate manually if you take a break from exercise. To do this, place the tips of your index and middle fingers on the inside of your wrist and press lightly until you feel blood pulsing beneath your fingers. Use a watch with a second hand and count the beats you feel for 10 seconds. Then multiply this number by six to get your heart rate  per minute.

If it’s difficult for you take your exercise heart rate manually or you don’t want to stop exercise to do so, you can buy a heart rate monitor that you can wear on your wrist or one that has a chest strap sensor. Some heart rate monitors may also show you steps, distance, and calories burned, as well as target heart rate.

What kinds of activities can help me reach my target heart rate?

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, aerobic exercise is the best type of exercise for your heart. Aerobic exercise is anything that gets your heart beating faster. This includes:

  • Dancing
  • Jogging/Running
  • Tennis
  • Swimming
  • Gardening
  • Yard work
  • Bicycling
  • Stair climbing
  • Soccer/basketball

Other types of exercise, such as yoga, tai chi, stretching, and weight training may increase your strength, flexibility and balance but are not always aerobic. Learn more about types of exercise for seniors.

Does Medicare cover exercise programs?

Some Medicare Advantage plans include fitness benefits to help seniors stay active. Would you like to see a list of plans in your area right away? Just click the Find Plans button on this page. You can arrange a phone call with me, or have me send you an email – just follow the links below.

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