Monitoring your heart rate while you are walking is a good way to measure the intensity of your exercise. It can also help you determine whether you need to speed up or slow down to receive the maximum benefits of the workout. Your normal heart rate when walking will depend on multiple factors such as your resting heart rate and walking speed. Your health care provider can help you determine your target heart rate.
Resting Heart Rate
Your resting heart rate is your number of heartbeats per minute when you are not moving. For an adult, this can range from 60 to 100 beats per minute. If you are very athletic, your resting heart rate may be as low as 40, which often indicates a higher level of cardiovascular fitness. However, a very low or high resting heart rate can also indicate a medical problem. See a doctor if your heart rate consistently falls above or below these levels.
Target Heart Rate
Your target heart rate is the pulse you should aim for when walking to receive the maximum cardiovascular and weight-loss benefits. To determine this number, first subtract your age from 220. This is your maximum heart rate. Your target heart rate will be in the range of 50 percent to 85 percent of your maximum rate. For example, if you are 40 years old, your maximum heart rate would be 180 beats per minute. When walking, you will want to keep that rate between 90 and 153 beats per minute, and check your pulse regularly to ensure that you are within this target range.
Intensity of Exercise
You can use other factors to determine the intensity of your exercise, and in turn, your heart rate when walking. Moderately intense exercise is best for losing weight, and this means walking at about 3 to 4 mph. At this pace, you should be able to carry on a conversation but not sing. If you can sing, you are probably not working hard enough, but if you are gasping for breath, you may be above your target heart rate and need to slow down a bit.
Keep in mind that everyone's body is different, and your normal heart rate when walking may be affected by other factors such as the temperature, your emotional state and even certain medications you are taking. When you first begin exercising, aim for the lowest part of your target heart rate zone and gradually work your way up to the highest over the course of six months or more, or as directed by your doctor.