By Mitchell Saba
Our hearts pump pump the blood vital to our existence. This movement of blood supplies the nutrients and oxygen that our bodies require. Once the payload of nutrients and oxygen are delivered the blood removes toxins from our bodies to keep us health. All of this driven by the beating of our hearts. The workload on our heart varies depending on our activity level. When we exercise our heart rate increases as does our breathing to meet the heightened demand for oxygen. Measuring our Heart rate while resting and during exercise provides a benchmark of how physically fit we are, how hard we are working, and to measure our improvement over time.
Our heart rate when resting (doing nothing) is a good guide of our general fitness. The normal range for our heart rate at rest is between 60 and 80 beats per minute (60-80 bpm), lower is usually better. To improve our heart rate and fitness level we need to exercise a minimum of 3 to 5 times per week for 30 minutes to 1 hour. During this exercise period our heart rate should be elevated. An elevated heart rate of 60% to 70% of our maximum heart rate must be maintained during this exercise period. Our maximum heart rate is determined using the formula 220 beats per minute minus our age. While this is the maximum your heart should EVER pump it is not wise to approach this number without consulting a doctor. A good rule of thumb is to maintain a heart rate of 150 beats per minute or lower depending on your maximum heart rate. As your fitness level improves the amount of exercise you can do at this level will increase. It is better to make steady improvement, which you will, then to stress your most important muscle, your heart. As a secondary way to determine your general fitness level check your heart rate every minute after your workout. How quickly your heart rate returns to your ‘resting’ rate is a good indicator of your fitness level.
This chart is provided as a guide to the accepted normal heart rate ranges based on age.