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What Heart Rate Range Is Considered Safe During Exercise?

Exercise Physiologist, Shirit Rosenberg, explains how to calculate it and when it's advisable to stop and take a break

By Shirit Rosenberg

What should your heart rate reach during exercise? What is safe? This is a frequent question I get, and it’s important to be aware of the numbers. However, the answer to this varies depending on fitness level, intensity, and health conditions.

During exercise, your heart rate can range quite a bit, depending on your fitness level. However, it does not tell the whole story. Medical conditions and medications can alter heart rate, and can play a role in how high it will reach during exercise. What Range Should My Heart Rate Reach While I’m Exercising?
As mentioned previously, it depends on your fitness level and the type of activity that you are doing. If you are a beginner, you can start with less than 64% of your maximal heart rate. Starting gradually is a safe way to begin. The range that you want to get to is moderate intensity.
For moderate intensity, you want to be working at 64-77% of your maximum heart rate.

How To Calculate It?

One method that is most popular is 220-age. This is the maximum heart rate.
For example, if you are 40 years old, 220-40=160 and 64 to 76 percent of that is 102-123 beats per minute.
If you notice that you are going at a higher intensity or vigorous intensity (77-93%), pay attention to your body. The most important part of all this is to pay attention to your body and don’t compare yourself to others. If you feel that you are breathing really heavily and can’t carry a conversation, you are working too hard and should back off a bit.

“If you feel that you are breathing really heavily and can’t carry a conversation, you are working too hard and should back off a bit.” Exercise Physiologist, Shirit Rosenberg.

Make sure that you recover after getting your heart rate increases and cool down. For resistance training, or lifting weights, your heart rate can increase but more importantly, you need to breathe correctly. Holding your breath during this type of exercise can increase your heart rate and blood pressure to unhealthy levels, specifically if you are lifting very heavy weights and are not breathing properly.
Lastly, there are medications that suppress your heart rate from reaching moderate to vigorous intensity. In this case, go by how you feel. If you feel that something is not right or not normal to you, please consult your physician.

About Shirit Kamil-Rosenberg, EdD, ACSM CEP

A certified clinical exercise physiologist who has a doctorate in exercise physiology. Her expertise is working with people with chronic diseases (diabetes, heart disease, stroke, etc.) and the benefits of physical activity. Shirit has worked in clinical and research settings working primarily with older adults instructing cardiac rehabilitation in the past as well as conducting cardiopulmonary and clinical stress tests. Her passion is to let people know and show the importance of physical activity to everyone. Shirit is married and has 4 children. She enjoys spending time with her family and staying active when possible. Ola Ka Ola fits her busy schedule by allowing her to take early classes and join on demand when possible.



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