Monitoring your heart rate is an effective way to gauge the intensity level of your workout. You can wear a heart rate monitor or take your pulse manually. It is important that you understand what the heart rate zones are and how to use them stay safe during your workout. Consult your doctor before beginning any exercise regimen and discuss the appropriate heart rate for your age and fitness level.
Maximum Heart Rate for Men
Your maximum heart rate is determined by subtracting your age from 220, according to the American Heart Association. A 35-year-old's maximum heart rate would be 185. Many cardiovascular exercise machines, including ellipticals and treadmills, have heart rate monitors built in; use these to monitor your heart rate or wear a heart rate monitor to ensure that you stay in the target range. If you do not have access to a monitor, try to talk during your workout. If you can't carry on a conversation, your heart is probably beating too fast for your fitness level.
Maximum Heart Rate for Women
A study from Northwestern Medicine has revealed why many women didn't meet the recommended maximum heart rates during exercise. The new standards require subtracting 88 percent of a woman's age from 206. Thus, a 35-year-old woman's maximum heart rate calculated by multiplying her age by 0.88, which equals 30.8. Then subtract 30.8 from 206 to find that her maximum heart rate is 175.2.
Heart Rate Zones
There are three main heart rate zones to aim for when exercising: the energy-efficient zone, or 60 to 70 percent of your maximum; the aerobic zone, or 70 to 80 percent of max; and the anaerobic zone, which is 80 to 90 percent of your maximum. The energy-efficient zone builds basic aerobic capacity, the Brian Mac Sports Coach website explains, whereas the aerobic zone develops your cardiovascular system and the anaerobic zone develops your lactic acid system.
The maximum heart rate for aerobic exercise, according to Brian Mac, can be calculated by determining your maximum heart rate and multiplying that number by 0.8, or 80 percent. If your heart rises above this number during your workout, you are entering the anaerobic zone and you should pace yourself accordingly. An effective model is to slowly increase the pace and difficulty of your workouts until you can comfortably exercise in this zone.
If you are new to exercise, walking at a slow speed, around 3.0 miles per hour, might be enough to raise your heart rate to the aerobic level. As your fitness level improves, begin raising the speed and/or the incline level to continually challenge yourself. When you're ready, add short periods of running -- 30 seconds, for starters -- at frequent intervals during your walking workout. Continually pushing yourself in this way will give you a good workout and keep you challenged and interested.