Is a Heart Rate of 182 While Running Dangerous?

Running is a high-intensity aerobic activity that makes normal speech difficult or impossible and significantly elevates your heart rate. However, a heart rate of 182 beats per minute is high even for runners and exceeds common exercise guidelines. Although you can potentially accelerate your heart rate this high without immediate physical danger, doing so creates a risk of damaging your heart or injuring your joints or muscles.

A woman running checks her heart rate as she jogs along a waterfront. (Image: dolgachov/iStock/Getty Images)

Basics

Like all forms of aerobic exercise, running forces you to continuously use large muscles in your body to sustain your activity. In turn, this repeated muscle use forces your body to pull in greater quantities of oxygen to meet rising energy requirements. Your lungs begin this process by drawing in more air at a faster rate. Your heart completes the process by beating faster and circulating more oxygen-rich blood throughout your body. Running requires you to move your limbs at a relatively rapid pace and therefore places a heavy workload on both your heart and lungs.

Safe Heart Rates

Runners and all other exercisers need to keep their heart rate below a certain level to adequately safeguard their health. The upper limit of your safe heartbeat range, called your maximum heart rate, can be easily approximated by deducting your age from the number 220. Still, common exercise guidelines don't recommend that you exercise at your maximum possible rate. Instead, you should exercise at a safe percentage of this rate, commonly known as your target heart rate. Inexperienced exercisers typically set their target rate at 50 or 60 percent of maximum, while habitual exercisers may sometimes set their target rate as high as 85 percent of maximum.

Exceeding Your Target Rate

Even at the age of 20, when target rates for adults are highest, a heart rate of 182 bpm exceeds accepted safety guidelines. Older adults who elevate their hearts to this level diminish their safety margins even farther. If you don't have a heart-related ailment or known heart attack risks, exceeding your target range may not directly endanger your health. However, exercising above 85 percent of your maximum heart rate may actually provoke the onset of heart problems, in addition to exposing you to clear risks for damage to your muscles, joints or bones.

Considerations

When you run or perform any other form of aerobic exercise that elevates your heart rate over 85 percent of maximum, you will not gain any extra physical benefit from your activity. In fact, even experienced exercisers can typically get the maximum benefit from their activity while keeping their heart rates in the 75-percent to 80-percent range. In some cases, elite athletes temporarily elevate their heart rates over 90 percent of their maximum capacity. However, they only do so with explicit medical approval. Consult your doctor for more information on maintaining an appropriate heart rate during running or other forms of exercise.

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