Knowing your target heart rate can make it easier to maintain long-term weight loss. Make sure you set realistic goals, stick to eating healthy foods in moderation and exercise 60 to 90 minutes most days of the week.
That may seem like a lot of time, but if you break the time up over the course of a day, it’s easier to achieve. Another critical aspect is making sure you aren’t working too hard or with too little effort. If your heart rate is too high, exercise can be too strenuous. Conversely, if it’s too low, you’re not conditioning your heart and lungs.
So how do you find your target heart rate to keep burning calories? Your target heart rate should be between 50 and 75 percent of your maximum heart rate. Your maximum heart rate is what medical professionals consider the fastest your heart should beat for someone your age.
To estimate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. If you’re 50, your estimated maximum heart rate would be 170 beats per minute. To be in the target heart zone, you’d need to keep your beats per minute between 85 and 128.
If you’re just starting to work out, stick to the lower part of the 50 to 75 percent range. As you get more fit, go ahead and increase your intensity.
Fitness trackers provide the easiest way to track your heart rate, but they’re not always 100 percent accurate. If you don’t have a fitness tracker or it’s sitting at home charging, you can take your pulse. Simply place the tips of your first two fingers lightly over one of the two blood vessels on your neck, located to the left and right of your Adam’s apple. Another pulse spot is on the inside of your wrist, just below the base of your thumb. Count your pulse for 10 seconds and multiply by six.
If your heart rate falls within your target zone, your heart and lungs benefit. If you’re below your target heart rate zone, move faster next time, as long as you continue to feel reasonably comfortable doing so. If you’re heart rate is above your target zone, slow down. Always ask your health provider before starting any exercise program.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute