When you're sitting in your car at an intersection and turn to notice a jogger checking her pulse as she waits to cross the road, she's not just killing time. By checking her pulse during her workout, she's keeping tabs on her heart rate. Knowing your maximum heart rate allows you to avoid surpassing this rate during exercise and adjust your workout intensity to maximize your workout.
Grab a calculator to help you determine your maximum heart rate if you're not comfortable with making calculations in your head.
Subtract your present age from 220 to calculate your maximum heart rate in beats per minute. If you're 40 years old, for example, the calculation you'll make is 220 minus 40, which equals 180. As such, your maximum heart rate is 180 beats per minute. You should not surpass this heart rate during exercise.
Exercise within your target heart rate zone to get the most out of any aerobic exercise. According to the American Heart Association, your target zone ranges between 50 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. For a person who's 40 years of age, this target zone is between 90 and 153 beats per minute. Keeping your heart rate within this range ensures your workout intensity is high enough but not too high to put strain on your heart.