Your Pulse and Your Target Heart Rate
What is your pulse?
Knowing how to take your pulse can help you evaluate your exercise program.
How to take your pulse
2. Press lightly with your fingers until you feel the blood pulsing beneath your fingers. You might need to move your fingers around slightly up or down until you feel the pulsing.
3. Use a watch with a second hand, or look at a clock with a second hand.
4. Count the beats you feel for 10 seconds. Multiply this number by six to get your heart rate (pulse) per minute.
Check your pulse: _______________ x 6 = ________________
What is maximum heart rate?
220 - Your Age = Predicted Maximum Heart Rate
Example: a 40-year-old's predicted maximum heart rate is 180.
Your actual maximum heart rate can be determined by a graded exercise test.
Please note that some medicines and medical conditions might affect your maximum heart rate. If you are taking medicines or have a medical condition (such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes), always ask your doctor if your maximum heart rate/target heart rate will be affected. If so, your heart rate ranges for exercise should be prescribed by your doctor or an exercise specialist.
Target heart rate
Do not exercise above 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. This increases both cardiovascular and orthopaedic risk and does not add any extra benefit.
Always check with your health care provider before starting an exercise program. Your health care provider can help you find a program and target heart rate zone that match your needs, goals, and physical condition.
When beginning an exercise program, you might need to gradually build up to a level that is within your target heart rate zone, especially if you have not exercised regularly before. If the exercise feels too hard, slow down. You will reduce your risk of injury and enjoy the exercise more if you don't try to over-do it.
To find out if you are exercising in your target zone (between 60 percent and 80 percent of your maximum heart rate), stop exercising and check your 10-second pulse. If your pulse is below your target zone (see the chart below), increase your rate of exercise. If your pulse is above your target zone, decrease your rate of exercise.
© Copyright 1995-2013 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved