When you exercise, your body speeds up, and so does your heart as it works to meet your increased energy needs. But how much speeding-up of your heart is safe when you exercise? You need the answer to this question in order to maximise the benefits of your exercise while not overworking your heart.
Your target heart rate isn't one rate but a range of rates (beats per minute, or bpm), expressed as percentages of your maximum heart rate, that are safe for you to reach during exercise. For most healthy people, experts recommend an exercise target heart rate ranging from 50% to 75% of your maximum heart rate, which is normally calculated as the number 220 minus your age.
Now that you know your target heart rate, check your bpm (take your pulse) regularly as you exercise. An easy way to do this is to count your heartbeats (pulse) for 10 seconds using your watch, and then multiply this number by 6 to get your bpm. You can feel your heartbeats in several ways, such as by placing your fingertips lightly but firmly over the inside of your wrist or on your neck just below the angle of your jaw. (Be careful not to put too much pressure on the neck; this can slow the heart down and can be dangerous in people with blockages of blood vessels in the neck.) The British Heart Foundation advises that if you feel any pain or discomfort during your workout, you should stop exercising. If you have any questions or concerns about your exercise plan, including your target heart rate, seek professional advice. If you are taking any medications, discuss your exercise plans with your GP – certain drugs including beta blockers, some blood pressure tablets, medications to stabilise the heart rate and some drugs for acid reflux, may lower your maximum heart rate.
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general information purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the BootsWebMD Site. If you have a medical problem please contact your GP. In England call 111 or NHS Direct. In Scotland call NHS 24. In Wales, call NHS Direct Wales. In the case of medical emergencies, always dial 999.
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