How to Calculate Your Heart Rate (and Why It Matters)
Measuring you heart rate lets you see how hard you’re exercising, or your exercise intensity. The weekly recommended dose of exercise is 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity. If you know your heart rate while at rest and while exercising, you’ll be better able to ensure you’re meeting the recommendations for the specific intensity levels.
Calculating Heart Rate
Your heart rate measurement is the same as your pulse, which is measured in beats per minute (bpm). You can measure your heart rate manually by lightly placing your fingertips on the pulse site either on your inner wrist or neck, just below the outer edge of your jawbone.
Count the number of beats you feel for 10 seconds, and then multiply the number by six to get the rate for 60 seconds, or a full minute. Doing this before you exercise will give you your resting heart rate, which is generally between 60 and 100 bmp for the average adult.
Target Heart Rate
While exercising, you can measure your heart rate the same way you did while at rest, although a number of stationary bikes, treadmills and other equipment have gauges that can do it for you.
For exercise to be effective, you’ll want your heart rate to increase to what is known as your target heart rate as you’re exercising. Your target heart rate is between 50 percent and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate.
Maximum Heart Rate
You can find your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from the number 220. For instance, if you’re 30 years old, your maximum heart rate would be 220 – 30, or 190. Your target heart rate, therefore, would be between 50 and 85 percent of 190.
- • 50 percent of 190 = .50 x 190 = 95 bpm
- • 85 percent of 190 = .85 x 190 = 161.5 bpm, or about 162 bpm
Moderate exercise would be at the lower end of the scale, around 95 bpm, while vigorous exercise would fall at the higher end of the scale, or around 162 bpm. It’s also important to know your heart rate during exercise so you don’t exceed your target heart rate, which could cause too much strain on your body over a prolonged period.