Between Apple Watch and Fitbits, many people track their heart rate during exercise. What appears on the screen for you can be very different from the woman next to you in gym class. Heart rate range varies from person to person, which is completely normal.
Your heart rate range should be thought of as such: a range. No number is perfect, stress Dr Peter Robinsonassistant professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at UConn Health Medical Center.
“In general, the harder your intensity, the more you exercise, the higher your heart rate,” he says.
But what if you notice your heart rate increasing rapidly during your run or you notice that your heart rate isn’t as high as it used to be? There are reasons for both. Here, experts share what there is to know about your heart rate during exercise:
First, it’s important to understand what a healthy heart rate is for you
When it comes to normal heart rate during exercise, it completely depends on the type of exercise and the person, said dr. Aaron Baggishdirector of the cardiovascular performance program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center.
“A-we all have an intrinsic zone in which we live — the top number [of our heart rate] usually determined by our age and gender,” he said, adding that women tend to run higher than men by 10 to 15 beats per minute and that everyone heart rate tends to drop slowly over time starting around age 30 or 35. (“It’s down a few beats per year,” says Baggish.)
So, a healthy maximum heart rate varies greatly from person to person. In 70-year-old runners, their maximum heart rate during exercise can be 140 or 150 beats per minute (BPM). For athletes aged 18 years, the maximum may be 200 BPM.
To determine your maximum heart rate, use a simple formula
Because there is no standard, normal heart rate, Dr Danny Eapena preventive cardiologist at Emory Healthcare’s Center for Heart Disease Prevention, recommends that you use a calculation known as the Fox formula to determine what may be healthy for you.
To get your maximum heart rate, simply subtract your age from 220. So, if you’re 38, subtract 38 from 220 to get your maximum heart rate — which is about 182 BPM.
And during your workout, you can use this number as a basis for determining how intense your workout is, he says. Based on Centers for Disease Control and Preventionmoderate-intensity exercise is 64% to 76% of your maximum heart rate and vigorous-intensity exercise is 77% to 93% of your maximum heart rate.
So, for a 38 year old, a moderate intensity heart rate is roughly between 116 and 138 BPM and can be achieved through brisk walking, dancing, gardening, and more.
If you do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, you meet: American Heart Association physical activity recommendations. Those who meet the guidelines have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure – among other benefits.
However, you may not want to stay in the maximum heart rate range for too long
Eapen adds that you don’t want to keep your heart rate on for too long simply because you most likely won’t be able to keep it up for more than a minute or two.
However, if you’re specifically training for something, you can try interval training to raise your heart rate to (or near) maximum and then pull back in intensity to lower your heart rate.
So, try running for two-minute intervals and then walking for two-minute intervals, for example. “It’s a great way to help condition muscles and increase aerobic exercise capacity,” he says.
In addition, certain factors can lead to a higher heart rate during exercise
According to Eapen, if you are dehydrated, anemic or have high thyroid levels, you may notice an increase in your heart rate when you exercise.
People who take pre-workout supplements can experience this as well, as well as people who are just starting out on their fitness journey. Their heart rate may tend to be higher at first as their bodies get used to the work, Eapen explains.
“All [these things] can increase your baseline heart rate and sort of worsen exercise-related heart rate,” he says.
The accelerated heartbeat from nowhere is worrying
According to Baggish, it’s worth noting if your heart rate increases without a good explanation.
If you are at a light level of work and your heart rate is “running” from something you can’t feel to something that feels like it’s coming out of your chest,” you should talk to your doctor, he explains.
From there, your doctor may set you up with a heart rate monitor for your workout, which will help them determine if what you’re experiencing is a cause for concern. Baggish added that Our own perception of heart rate can be wrong, which is why monitoring from a professional is necessary before jumping to any extreme conclusions.
Additionally, Robinson adds that a sudden drop in heart rate should be treated by a doctor as well. This sudden drop, he says, can occur in seconds and should spark a conversation with a doctor.
Certain symptoms are also worrying
Chest tightness, extreme shortness of breath, and dizziness at any level of activity are worrying, Robinson says.
“That tells me that you are pushing the boundaries beyond [what] your heart can handle [and] exceeds your heart’s ability to compensate,” he says.
If you notice these symptoms while exercising, it may mean that you have a problem with the valves in your heart or that you are exerting yourself too much.
“Those are all warning signs to back off,” he said. If these symptoms disappear immediately, you just need to pay attention that the level of exertion is too much. But, Robinson notes, if they don’t go away or start occurring at lower activity levels, you need to call your doctor.
She stresses that chest pain, in particular, is a big problem. If you continue to have chest pain, you may want to get checked out right away, he says. There’s a small chance that this will happen during or after exercise, but, if so, you don’t want to wait to see a doctor.
It is important to know a healthy heart rate range to determine what is normal for you
A heart rate of 200 BPM may be fine for a 20-year-old but problematic for a 70-year-old, Baggish notes no matter what sport they do.
What’s normal for you depends on your age, your gender and what your body uses. “It all depends on the intrinsic range you live in,” he said. “Of course, there may be a heart rate above the normal range, and in that situation, it is an arrhythmia,” which is also known as an irregular heartbeat and is something cardiologists are concerned about.
There is a direct relationship between how hard you exercise and your heart rate. It’s important to understand what’s normal for you so you can spot any potential irregularities (such as if your heart rate spikes uncharacteristically when you take a leisurely walk) so you can tell your doctor, he says.
Instead of a specific heart rate number, watch the changes
When it comes to tracking your heart rate (and all aspects of your body’s health, for that matter), “changes and patterns are probably more important than anything else,” says Robinson.
For example, if you’re always doing a certain amount of exercise and notice that your heart rate is increasing much faster than usual, or you’re very tired after your normal exercise regimen, this could be a sign that something dangerous is going on. on, he noted.
Changes of any kind are important for doctors to recognize, Robinson emphasizes. Reporting changes in your health pattern can sometimes be the key a doctor needs to diagnose a problem.
This has the potential to become even more important now that many people are faced with reality long COVID or a bad COVID-19 infection that really affects their usual workout routine.
Overall, know what feels best to you
An increase in heart rate during exercise is normal, and just because it reaches a certain number doesn’t mean you’re at risk for complications.
The most important thing is to learn to understand your healthy heart rate range and how it interacts with the exercises you do most often.
If you feel good after a heart-pumping workout and your regular fitness expectations match, you’re probably fine. But, if you notice any clumsiness, pain or anything that doesn’t match your normal practice, you should contact your doctor.