Exercise and Your Heart Pt. 2

Mar 18, 2016

In case you missed it, be sure to check out Part 1 of "Exercise and Your Heart."

Exercise isn’t just about what you see in the mirror, but perhaps more importantly, it’s about how you feel. Your cardiovascular system plays a vital role in supplying blood, nutrients, and oxygen to your tissues, cells, and organs. Of course, you’ve heard it before as most health care professionals recommend eating a balanced diet and regular exercise to maintain optimal cardiovascular function. That regular physical activity can decrease the risk of stroke, obesity, diabetes, certain cancers, as well as peripheral vascular disease and has been found to aid in prevention and treatment of heart disease and various other conditions.Though regular exercise is not said to be able to prevent genetic influence related to your heart health, it has been noted to reduce the severity of heart disease by decreasing high blood pressure, plaque buildup in the arteries, high blood sugar, stress, weight loss, etc. Certain medications may be used in treatment of contributing factors of heart disease, but exercise has the ability to address most factors of various heart conditions. In all its glory, exercise may just be the answer to a healthy heart!

healthy heart steps


Your Maximum Heartrate (HRmax) is the maximum limit of beats per minute that your cardiovascular system can handle during exercise. You can calculate your HRmax by simply subtracting your age in years from 220. Example: 220-45years= 175 beats per minute=HRmaxYour Target heart rate (TargetHR) is typically between 50-85% of your HRmax. Your TargetHR can be based on various components including your current heart health, activity levels, fitness goals, medication, age, etc. To calculate your TargetHR, you simply multiply the appropriate percentage by your HRmax.Example: 220-45 years=175 HRmax175HRmax X 80%(.80)= 140 beats per minute=TargetHRIt is important to appropriately and safely reach the proper TargetHR during exercise.The table below from American Heart Association gives an example of TargetHR zones based on age. Simply find the age in years closest to yours and read across to determine an estimation of your HRmax and TargetHR. The figures are averages, so use them as general guidelines.Age Target HR Zone 50-85% Average Maximum Heart Rate, 100%20 years: 100-170 beats per minute 200 beats per minute30 years: 95-162 beats per minute 190 beats per minute35 years: 93-157 beats per minute 185 beats per minute40 years: 90-153 beats per minute 180 beats per minute45 years: 88-149 beats per minute 175 beats per minute50 years: 85-145 beats per minute 170 beats per minute55 years: 83-140 beats per minute 165 beats per minute60 years: 80-136 beats per minute 160 beats per minute65 years: 78-132 beats per minute 155 beats per minute70 years: 75-128 beats per minute 150 beats per minuteIt is important to know that some medications may lower your HRmax and thus, the TargetHR zone. To be safe, always check with your physician before beginning an exercise regimen to determine if you're taking such medicine to determine if you need to use a lower TargetHR.


Exercise Intensity (EI) is the amount of power used by the body while performing physical activity. Sometimes, we just jump into an exercise regimen because we know exercise is good for our heart health. However, it's important to know what TargetHR zone correlates with your desired fitness goals, training zones, and exercise intensity. Your training zone can be based off of your personal fitness goals as well as your heart rate during exercise. The following chart is a quick guide to determine your TargetHR based on your training zones and intensity levels. Remember you can calculate your ideal HRmax with the calculation provided in STEP 4.Intensity/Training Zone% of HRmaxRecommendationLight - Maintenance / Weight Loss Zone 60-70% 4-6 days for 45-60+ minutesModerate - Weight Loss / Aerobic Fitness 70 - 80% 3-5 days for 20-60 minutesIntense - Aerobic / Anaerobic 80-90% 1-2 days for 10-30 minutesMAX - Red Line Zone 90 - 100% Not typically recommendedYour Heart Rate is a great tool to measure your exercise intensity, but you can also base it on how you feel. Thus, exercise intensity can be a subjective measure, i.e. what feels diffcult to you may not feel as difficult to another. If your heart rate is too high and you are barely able to breath, you may be pushing too hard-slow down! Perhaps you are able to chat on the phone and are barely sweating-it might be beneficial to push harder. For those just beginning a cardiovasular regimen, aim for lower TargetHR zones (50%) in the first few weeks and gradually build up to a higher range (50-85%). Over time you may notice that you are more comfortable being physically active at your 85% HRmax. Always remember that every little bit counts! If you know that you may not have a chance to exercise during the day, try things like parking the furthest distance from the store, taking the stairs at work, jogging in place while you are on call waiting, etc. Get creative with your daily exercise, and get back to your routine the next day!Also note that you know how you feel better than anyone else. Pay close attention to your heart rate during exercise, and always consult a health care professional if you notice any sudden changes in your heart beat, have been previously diagnosed with any heart related condition, or have had any cardiac related surgery.

We believe in total well-being for you and your family, and in many ways, that begins and ends with your heart!


Email CaseyFeature Photo: Dr. Oz

We’re changing the way people engage with healthcare.

Request a Demo