What Is My Target Heart Rate for Losing Weight?

Exercising at an appropriate intensity is necessary to achieve the maximum benefits from exercise and help you lose weight. One way to determine if you are exercising at an appropriate intensity is by finding your target heart rate. Your target heart rate depends on several factors, including age, resting heart rate and exercise intensity.

Target Heart Rate

Your target heart rate is the heart rate at which you achieve the maximum benefits from aerobic exercise. According to the Cleveland Clinic, your target heart rate should be 60 percent to 85 percent of your predicted maximum heart rate.

How To Take Your Pulse

Before you calculate your target heart rate, you will first need to determine your resting heart rate by taking your pulse. Your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats in one minute. You should take your pulse in the morning before you get out of bed to get the most accurate reading. The best places to find your pulse are the carotid and radial arteries. The carotid artery is on the side of your neck proximal to the windpipe. The radial artery is on the palmar surface of your wrist just below the base of the thumb. Lightly palpate the artery using the tip of your index and middle finger. Use a watch or clock and count the number of beats you feel in 15 seconds. Multiply this number by four to get your heart rate in one minute.

How to Calculate Your Target Heart Rate

According to Purdue University, you may calculate your target heart rate by using the Karvonen formula, or heart rate reserve formula, which is:

(maximum heart rate – resting heart rate) x exercise intensity + resting heart rate.

Your maximum heart rate is the highest heart rate that your heart should beat during exercise. It may be calculated by subtracting your age from 220. Exercise intensity is the percentage of the maximum heart rate at which you are working and should be between 60 and 85 percent. So, for a 40 year old person with a resting heart rate of 80 beats per minute, exercising at 70 percent intensity, the target heart rate would be: (220 – 40– 80) x 0.70 + 80 = 150.


Several things may alter your heart rate which you should take into consideration. Purdue University states that dehydration, stress, high altitude and high environmental temperatures will all increase your heart rate during exercise. The Cleveland Clinic also notes that certain medications and health conditions, such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease, can alter your heart rate. Talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise routine if you have a chronic health condition, so that he may determine your appropriate target heart rate.

Expert Insight

The Cleveland Clinic recommends that you do not exercise at an intensity greater than 85 percent of your predicted maximum heart rate. Exercising at a target heart rate higher than this can increase your risk of injury and cardiovascular events. If you are just starting an exercise routine, you may have to slowly work your way up to your target heart rate range, notes the Cleveland Clinic. If you find that you are unable to talk during exercise or maintain your intensity, then you may be exercising too hard and need to decrease your training intensity.