Exercise Heart Rate Chart By Age | Why It's Important To Know Your Target Heart Rate

Want to know when to exercise harder and when to slow down?

Staying in your target heart rate zone (or exercise heart rate) can help you exercise at a safe intensity, maximize your workout, or lose weight. Your target heart rate is like the Goldilocks zone: not training too fast or too slow.

Learn how to calculate your resting heart, maximum heart rate, and your target heart rate range. Or, use a target heart rate chart based on age and activity level.

A picture of a woman checking her pulse holding two fingers to her neck and watching her watch, headline ""What Is Target Heart Rate| Why It's Important To Know Your Target Heart Rate "

What is Target Heart Rate?

Target heart rate is a percentage range, generally between 50 and 85 percent, of your maximum safe heart rate (1).  Your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. For a 40-year old, the maximum rate is 220-40 or 180 beats per minute. For the 50 percent exertion level, the target is 50% of the maximum or 90 bpm. For the 85 percent exertion level, the target is 153 bpm.

Besides your age, your target heart rate is also affected by gender and physical fitness. Unless you’re an elite athlete, these differences are minor.

When you’re in your target heart rate range, your heart is beating between moderate and high intensity. If you sustain this level, you’re improving your cardiovascular endurance. 

 

Why Is It Important to Know Your Target Heart Rate?

Knowing your target heart rate is important because it helps you get the most of your workouts. Exercising at the right heart rate intensity helps you avoid burnout and injury. It also helps you avoid wasting time with a workout that’s not vigorous enough for your fitness goals.

How can you tell if you’re in your target heart rate zone? 

 

Target Heart Rate Formula 

The formula for target heart is the following:

  1. Find your maximum heart rate: 220 minus your age
  2. Calculate your 50% bottom range: Divide your maximum heart rate by two
  3. Calculate your 85% top range: Multiply your maximum heart rate time (85%)

You can try a target heart rate calculator by clicking here.

 

Exercise Heart Rate Chart By Age

This heart rate table shows target heart rate zones for different ages. The American Heart Association recommends a target heart rate range of 50 to 85% (1) of your maximum heart rate.

Look for the age row closest to your age to find your target heart rates. The first number is your age. the two numbers in the second column are your target heart rate range. And the third number is your maximum heart rate.

Years (Age) Target Heart Rate (BPM) Maximum Heart Rate (BPM)
20 100 –170 200
30 95 –162 190
35 93 –157 185
40 90 –153 180
45 88 –149 175
50 85 –145 170
60

70

80 –136

75 – 128

160

150

 

I’ve also included a chart for both moderate and vigorous-intensity exercise based on the CDC guidelines.

The CDC recommends a range of 64 and 76 percent (2) of your maximum safe heart rate for moderate-intensity exercise. And the CDC recommends a range of 77 and 93 percent of your maximum safe heart rate for vigorous-intensity exercise

Target Heart Rate For Moderate-intensity Exercise 

Years (Age) Target Heart Rate (BPM) Maximum Heart Rate (BPM)
20 128 –152 200
30 122 –142 190
35 118 –141 185
40 115 –137 180
45 112 –133 175
50 109 –129 170
60

70

102 –122

96 –114

160

150

Target heart rates are a general guide based on CDC averages of 64 and 76 percent of your maximum safe heart rate, Your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age (2). 

 

 

Target Heart Rate For Vigorous-intensity Exercise 

Years (Age) Target Heart Rate (BPM) Maximum Heart Rate (BPM)
20 154 –186 200
30 146 –177 190
35 142 –172 185
40 139 –167 180
45 135 –163 175
50 131 –158 170
60

70

123 –149

116 –140

160

150

Target heart rates are a general guide based on CDC averages of 77 and 93 percent of your maximum safe heart rate, Your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age (2).

 

How Do I Find My Pulse Or Heart Rate?

Two of the best places to check your heart rate are the inside of your wrist and the side of your neck. Periodically take a break to check your pulse during your workouts.

  1. Press the artery under your wrist (on the thumb side) with the tips of your index and middle finger gently 
  2. Count the beats for 30 seconds and multiply by two for your beats per minute

Or use a wearable activity tracker such as a Fitbit or Apple Watch. Or some treadmills or machines have a heart rate monitor.

 

How to Check Your Pulse Video

Watch Emily Reeve, the Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, explain how to check your pulse.

 

What Is Your Resting Heart Rate?

Resting heart rate is how many times your heart beats in one minute while at rest. Generally, the resting heart rate for adults is between 60 and 100 bpm. Resting heart rate is also affected by stress, hormones, medication, and your fitness level. Some athletes have a resting heart rate as low as 40 bpm.

The best time to check your resting heart rate is in the morning before you get out of bed.

Generally, a low resting heart rate is better. Learn more about your resting heart rate and how to lower it in, What Is A Good Resting Heart Rate By Age? 

 

What If My Heart Rate Is Too High (or Too Low)?

If your heart rate is above 85 to 93% of your maximum heart rate, you’re overdoing it.  Anything above your max is unsafe. But if you feel like you’re straining, you need to slow down to let your heart recover, even if you’re below your max.

You can do short bursts of exercise, such as sprints, in a high heart rate zone, but spend most of your time at a sustainable and safe intensity.

If your heart rate is near or under the 50 percent of your target heart rate range, you’re not working hard enough. 

As a beginner or if you’re out of condition, aim for the lower range of your target heart rate, about 50% of your max. Build up gradually to be comfortable up to 85% of your max.

Because sometimes heart rate monitors fail, make note of how you feel at each heart rate level. Be aware of the following:

  • How’s your breathing?
  • How much are you sweating?
  • Are you in pain?

Listen to your body and take a break when necessary, regardless of your heart rate zone.

 

When To Consult Your Doctor About Your Target Heart Rate

You should consult your medical provider about your heart rate for the following reasons:

  • You have a heart condition. Work with your medical provider to find a target heart rate that’s safe for you.
  • Some medications can lower your maximum heart rate. Work with your medical provider to determine your target heart rate range.
  • Before you start an exercise program. Your doctor may recommend certain tests for you first. Especially for people with diabetes, at risk for heart disease, or men over age 45 and women over age 55.

 

Will Knowing Your Heart Rate Range Increase Your Fitness Potential?

You knew that target heart rate was important, but you weren’t sure how important. Now you know that learning your heart rate zones and staying in them can maximize your workout. 

Now you when to pick up the pace to reach your fitness goals. No more wasting time on ineffective workouts.

You also know when to slow down and let your heart and body recover. No more fear of overexercising.

Now it’s time to take on your fitness goals with confidence.

 

Further Reading:

How To Lower Blood Pressure | 21 Natural Remedies

What Is A Good Heart Rate Variability?

What Is A Dangerous Heart Rate?

 

Sources Cited:

  1. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/target-heart-rates
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/measuring/heartrate.htm#2

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