An exercise heart rate greater than 200 beats per minute is likely doing you and your heart more harm than good, and it may even be putting your overall health at risk. Safe and beneficial aerobic exercise is that which elevates your heart rate to a number of beats per minute that falls within your THR, or target heart rate, zone. If you have any concerns about your heart rate when exercising, you should contact your health care provider.
Your Maximum Heart Rate
Maximum heart rate -- or MHR -- is the fastest number of beats each minute your heart can maintain and still fulfill its duty of pumping blood throughout your entire body. It is a formula derived from your age. To calculate your MHR, subtract your age from the number 220. If you are 30 years old, your MHR is 190. If you are 55, your MHR is 165. The younger you are, the higher your predicted MHR. And if you are younger than 20, a healthy MHR may be over 200. However, maximum heart rate is just that -- a maximum. Ideal aerobic exercise occurs within the range of your personal THR.
Your Target Heart Rate
You should never exceed your MHR during exercise. However, you should also avoid raising your heart rate above 80 percent of your MHR to avoid the adverse effects of overtraining. Your THR zone is approximately 60 to 80 percent of your MHR. As an example, if you are 25 years old and have an MHR of 195, you would not want your exercise pulse to exceed 156 beats a minute, or 80 percent of your MHR, during aerobic exercise. You will gain maximum cardiovascular benefit, while avoiding exercise injury, by maintaining a pace at which your heart rate is between 117, or 60 percent of your MHR, and 156.
Symptoms of Overtraining
If your heart beats too rapidly during exercise, the symptoms of this overexertion can be mild, but they can also be severe and potentially dangerous. Symptoms of overtraining include lightheadedness, dizziness and shortness of breath severe enough to affect coordination. You may notice that your heart is palpitating, beating irregularly or fluttering. A rapid heart rate may also cause chest pain, abdominal pain and nausea. You may also feel very hot, and you may sweat much more than normal. Stop exercising immediately and consult a doctor.
Effects of Overtraining
Potential effects of overtraining include premature exhaustion. A rapid heart rate during your workout may leave you too tired to exercise long enough to reap cardiovascular benefit. If you exercise too hard without giving yourself adequate recovery time, you may experience increasing fatigue with each subsequent workout. Struggling to make it through a workout that was once tolerable is a classic sign of overexertion.