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Adolescent bodies go through tremendous changes, and sometimes it is difficult to gauge appropriate cardiovascular health for teenagers. Resting and target pulse rates are based upon the maximum heart rate for moderately healthy individuals, creating accurate guidelines for heart health 1.
Resting Heart Rate
For teenagers (age 13 to 19), a normal resting heart rate is anywhere between 50 and 90 beats per minute. Because of differences in teens' bodies and physiology, the range for an acceptable resting heart rate is much greater than for other age groups. People who experience a lot of anxiety tend to have higher heart rates than others; use of nicotine or caffeine also increases the resting heart rate.
Maximum Heart Rate
Maximum heart rate refers to the upper limit of times your heart can beat in a minute. For teenagers, the maximum heart rate is about 200 to 205, on average. This maximum heart rate is based on the maximum output of a healthy individual; the maximum rate drops by about 10 beats per minute every decade. Smoking cigarettes negatively affects your maximum heart rate, while a lifetime of cardiovascular exercise can keep your heart beating healthily. To calculate your maximum heart rate in beats per minute, subtract your current age from 220.
Target Heart Rate
Target heart rate is the range of heart rate (in beats per minute) that maximizes cardiovascular exercise or fat loss. For fat loss, you must work at between 50 and 70 percent of your maximum heart rate; for a 16-year-old, that translates to between 102 and 143 beats per minute. With cardiovascular training, aim for between 70 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate; the same 16-year-old would want to keep his heart rate between 143 and 173 beats per minute.
Teenage Heart Health
One very common and unsettling heart issue teenagers sometimes face is known as the precordial catch. This is described as a severe, sharp pain in the chest along with the sensation that heartbeat has been interrupted. Teens should exercise regularly to keep their hearts healthy during adolescence and to establish healthy habits early on. Regular checkups allow a health care professional to take a detailed look at a teenager's health and catch issues before they become serious health problems.
One of the best ways to ensure that you are making progress toward your fitness goals is by tracking your heart rate when you exercise. This can be done manually with two fingers and a watch, but a heart rate monitor allows you to accurately track your pulse at all times during your workout.
Resting and target pulse rates are based upon the maximum heart rate for moderately healthy individuals, creating accurate guidelines for heart health. With cardiovascular training, aim for between 70 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate; the same 16-year-old would want to keep his heart rate between 143 and 173 beats per minute. Because of differences in teens' bodies and physiology, the range for an acceptable resting heart rate is much greater than for other age groups.
- Rush University Medical Center