To see the direct effects of exercise on your heart, track your target heart rate, which is about 50% to 85% of your maximum heart rate, based on your age. This range gives your heart the most benefit.
To find your target heart rate:
- Take a brief break from exercising to take your pulse. To measure your pulse at the wrist, place your index and middle fingers on the inside of your opposite wrist, below the base of the thumb. To measure your pulse at the neck, place your index and middle fingers to the side of the Adam's apple.
- Count the number of beats you feel for 10 seconds.
- Multiply this number by 6 to give you the beats per minute.
Find your age and target heart rate:
- 20 years old -- 100 to 170 beats per minute
- 30 years old -- 95 to 162 beats per minute
- 35 years old -- 93 to 157 beats per minute
- 40 years old -- 90 to 153 beats per minute
- 45 years old -- 88 to 149 beats per minute
- 50 years old -- 85 to 145 beats per minute
- 55 years old -- 83 to 140 beats per minute
- 60 years old -- 80 to 136 beats per minute
- 65 years old -- 78 to 132 beats per minute
- 70 years old -- 75 to 128 beats per minute
To find your approximate maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220.
For moderate-intensity exercise, your target heart rate should be 50% to 70% of your maximum heart rate.
For vigorous exercise, your target heart rate should be 70% to 85% of your maximum heart rate.
When you first start exercising, aim for the lower number for your age range. As you get fitter, you can slowly work towards the higher number.
If your heart rate is lower than your target heart rate, you may not be exercising hard enough to benefit your heart. If your heart rate is higher than your target, you may be exercising too hard.
Some blood pressure medicines can lower your target heart rate. If you take medicine for high blood pressure, ask your doctor what range is healthy for you.