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How to Calculate Target Heart Rate Formula

By Danielle Cort

We all know that we should engage in moderate intensity exercise to improve health and prevent heart disease. However, it is sometimes hard to know whether an exercise such as walking or gardening is intense enough to be beneficial. Although you could gauge your exercise intensity by whether you can talk and exercise at the same time, health professionals use a formula to get a more precise measure of intensity. Use the formula to determine your target heart rate range to improve your exercise routine.

  1. Determine what you want your target heart rate percentage to be. If you are a healthy, physically fit adult, your target should be between 70 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. If you are just beginning an exercise routine and you want to aim for a more modest target heart rate, select a target of between 40 and 50 percent of your maximum heart rate. As you progress in your exercise routine, you can set a higher target heart rate.

  2. Start with 220 and subtract your age from it to get an estimate of your maximum heart rate. For example, if you are 25, your maximum heart rate would be 195.

  3. Multiply the result by the target heart rate percentage you determined earlier. If you are aiming for 70 percent, you would multiply 195 by 0.7 to get 136.5. If you are aiming for 50 percent, you would multiply 195 by 0.5 to get 97.5. The complete formula is:

  4. (220 - Your Age) x Target Heart Rate Percentage = Target Heart Rate

  5. Tip

    Check your pulse throughout your workout to see if you are exercising in your target zone.


    Consult with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.

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