Pace is important when exercising. You don’t want to burn out too quickly, but you don’t want to be too easy on yourself either. Knowing your target heart rate allows you to gauge your own fitness level.
Your THR is anywhere between 50-85 percent of you maximum heart rate. To find your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. You should preferably start somewhere around 50% if you are out of shape or haven’t exercised in a while. Then, slowly work your way up to around 85%.
To make sure you are within your THR, you have to continuously check your pulse while exercising. There are two ways to do this.
- Start with your wrist facing palm-side up. Place you index and second fingers on your wrist right below your thumb. Once you can feel your pulse, begin counting the beats for 10 seconds. Multiply that number by 6 for your THR/minute.
- Place those same two fingers on either side of your windpipe. Press lightly and count the beats for 10 seconds. Multiply the same way.
If this sounds like too much work for you, The American Heart Association said that you can also monitor your exercise by talking. If you are able to talk and exercise at the same time then you are not overworking your body. The suggestion actually says to walk, but I tried this the other day when I went for a jog with my friend. We ended up running 3.5 miles (give or take) down on the Rail Trail. It only took us 45 minutes and we talked the whole time. Granted, I found myself out of breath a few times, but I was also surprised at how long we went for. I’d say I’m in pretty decent shape, at least cardio wise.
All in all, learning your THR is a good way to monitor your exercise and keep in check with your body by not overworking yourself. You can periodically check your pulse with a watch, stopwatch, or most cell phones and ipods have a stop watch built into them these days.