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Sep 11, 2016 OHIOHEALTH
Find Your Target Heart Rate for Exercise

Put that heart rate monitor to good use with this handy guide, based on age

how to find your target heart rate

The sweat is pouring and your heart is pounding. But how fast — or, how many beats per minute — should you shoot for while exercising?

Your Maximum Heart Rate

First, calculate your maximum heart rate (MHR), roughly 220 minus your age. This is the upper limit of what your heart can handle during exercise.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest exercisers aim for a target heart rate of 70 to 85 percent of your MHR.

However, this is just an estimate for an average heart rate to shoot for. In fact, many people have a higher or lower MHR, sometimes by as much as 15 to 20 beats per minute.

Medications and Heart Rate

Several types of medications can lower your maximum heart rate and, therefore, lower your target heart rate zone. These medications may include:

  • Beta blockers
  • Anti-arrhythmic medications
  • Calcium blockers
  • Digoxin
  • H-2 blockers

If you’re taking any of these medications, ask your doctor if you need to use a lower target heart rate.

If you’re looking for more than an estimate, consider talking to your doctor or a personal trainer at the McConnell Heart Health Center.