How to reach your Target Heart Rate Zone

September 02, 2021
Healthy heart
6 min read


Jeffrey G. Eaton, MD


It is important for everyone to understand heart rate especially as it relates to physical fitness. Here is a quick a quick tutorial on how you can be sure you’re reaching your ideal heart rate – otherwise known as your Target Heart Rate Zone—to get the most out of your exercise.

Pulse: The number of times your heart beats in one minute. It varies from person to person. It is lower when you are at rest and increases when you exercise. A normal heartbeat range for adults is 60-100 beats per minute.

  • To calculate: Take your pulse on the inside of your wrist, closest to your thumb. Use your first two fingertips and press lightly over the blood vessels until you feel your pulse or heartbeat. Count how many times your heart beats per minute.

10-second pulse: Needed for calculating your Target Heart Rate Zone.

  • To calculate: Count your pulse for ten seconds and then multiply this number by six. This will be your heart rate per minute.

Maximum Heart Rate: The highest your pulse rate can get. Needed for calculating your Target Heart Rate Zone.

  • To calculate: Subtract 220 from your age – that equals your maximum heart rate per minute.
    • Quick tip: This is only an estimate. Your true maximum heart rate could be as many as 15 beats higher or lower than what this formula suggests.

      Target Heart Rate Zone: This is the heart rate to aim for when exercising and should be 50-85% of your maximum heart rate.

  • To know if you’re in the zone: While exercising, stop your movement and check your 10-second pulse.
    • If this number is below your Target Heart Rate Zone, increase your rate and intensity of exercise.
    • If your pulse is above your Target Heart Rate Zone, decrease your rate and intensity of exercise.
      • Quick tip: It is not recommended to exercise above 85 percent of your maximum heart rate, as doing so can increase your health risk and does not add extra benefit.

As always, it's important to consult your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise program. Once you begin, 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. Remember to hydrate and stretch before and after exercise, too.

Jeffrey G. Eaton, MD, Mount Nittany Physician Group Cardiology, is part of an expert, board-certified cardiology team at Mount Nittany Health offering extensive experience in diagnosing, treating and managing heart conditions of all types.  With access to Mount Nittany Medical Center’s leading edge cardiovascular pavilion, Dr. Eaton and his team offer state-of-the-art treatments to keep your heart working efficiently for you.

Dr. Eaton is currently welcoming cardiology practice to Mount Nittany Health – Philipsburg. To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 814.689.3140. 

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