Reach Weight-Loss Goals by ‘Staying in the Zone’
Is your exercise routine helping you meet your weight-loss or fitness goals? Or, do you feel like your efforts never seem to bring results? It’s easy to determine whether you are working too little, too much or are just right, by determining your target training heart rate.
This number represents the minimum number of heartbeats needed in a given amount of time to reach the right exertion level for cardiovascular fitness. Staying within your target zone as you exercise will help you burn fat and meet your goals. To find your target zone, you need to first figure out your maximum heart rate — the maximum number of times your heart should beat during physical activity. Do this by subtracting your age from 220. For example, if you are 40, subtract 40 from 220 to get a maximum heart rate of 180.
Using your maximum heart rate, you can calculate your target heart rate zone. In that zone, your heart is being exercised and conditioned without being over-stressed. The American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control recommend the following general target rates for exercise.
- Moderate intensity – 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate
- Vigorous intensity – 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate
If you are using a heart-rate monitor, be aware that being dehydrated or in pain, or working out in the heat, can change your normal heart rate and affect the monitor’s accuracy. In a gym, signals from the machines might interfere with an accurate heart-rate monitor reading as well.
When you are just beginning your exercise program or are not fit, aim for the lower end of your target zone and gradually build up. If you are healthy, you can aim for more vigorous intensity at the higher end of the zone.
Are you in the zone?
To check your heart rate during exercise, follow the steps below.
- Stop for a moment.
- Take your pulse for 15 seconds at your wrist or the side of your neck.
- Multiply your pulse by 4 to calculate your heart beats per minute.
- If you are over or under your target heart rate zone, adjust your intensity accordingly.
Whatever your goals are, make sure to get your health provider’s advice before beginning a training program—especially if you have heart disease or another chronic condition. A few high blood pressure medications lower the maximum heart rate, which affects the target zone rate; your provider can tell you if need to use a lower target heart rate. He or she can also help you choose activities that are safe and appropriate for your age, condition and fitness level.
Have you found ways to keep your exercise routine interesting while remaining within your targeted zone? Please share your tips with us below.