To optimize exercise, heed your heart rate training zone

Mon Jan 9, 2012 3:52pm EST
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Whether you're interested in running a marathon or staving off the chronic diseases of ageing, to reap the rewards of your efforts getting into the zone is essential.

Experts say knowing and staying within your heart rate training zone is an easy way to pace the intensity of your workout.

"Exercisers need to get to at least a moderate level of physical activity in order to reap the benefits," said Dr. Adrian Hutber of the American College of Sports Medicine. "Your goal is to get to a stage where you're fit enough to exercise within your heart rate training zone."

Your heart rate training zone, or target heart rate, is based on your maximum heart rate (MHR), which is roughly calculated as 220 minus your age.

"It's not exact but it doesn't need to be," said Hutber. "It's a really good indicator."

For moderate-intensity physical activity, a person's target heart rate should be 50 to 70 percent of MHR, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vigorous exercisers should aim for 70 to 85 percent.

A 62-year-old woman has an estimated target heart rate zone of 111-134 beats per minute. An 18-year-old boy has a range of 141-172.

Science tells us you need at least 150 minutes of moderate-level physical activity per week to be healthy, said Hutber, quoting U.S. government guidelines.   Continued...

<p>A woman jogs before the arrival of Hurricane Irene at downtown Manhattan in New York August 27, 2011. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz</p>