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Interactive Tool: What Is Your Target Heart Rate (cont.)

How can you use your target heart rate?

You can use your target heart rate to know how hard to exercise to gain the most aerobic benefit from your workout. You can exercise within your target heart rate to either maintain or raise your aerobic fitness level. To raise your fitness level, you can work harder while exercising to raise your heart rate toward the upper end of your target heart rate range. If you have not been exercising regularly, you may want to start at the low end of your target heart rate range and gradually exercise harder.

To take your heart rate during exercise, you can count the beats in a set period of time (for example, 30 seconds) and then multiply by a number to get the number of beats per minute. For example, if you count your heartbeat for 30 seconds, double that number to get the number of beats per minute. You can also wear a heart rate monitor during exercise so you do not have to take your pulse. A heart rate monitor shows your pulse rate continuously, so you see how exercise changes your heart rate. Then you can work harder or easier to keep your heart working in your target heart rate range.

Target heart rate is only a guide. Each individual is different, so pay attention to how you feel, how hard you are breathing, how fast your heart is beating, and how much you feel the exertion in your muscles.

Try to make physical activity a regular and essential part of your day. But if you haven't been active, start slowly and be sure to talk to your doctor before you add regular exercise to your day. For more information, see the topic Fitness: Getting and Staying Active.

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