If you are a healthy person and aren't taking any heart rate regulating drugs, you can use the Target Heart Rate formula to determine how hard you need to work to get in an effective work out. This is a much more accurate method than working out until you are really sweaty or out of breath and thinking "Well, I think that was a good workout".
Here is what the formula looks like:
Target Heart Rate Formula:
X-Resting Heart Rate=Y
Y x .60 = Z
Z+ Resting Heart Rate = Bottom number of the range
Y x .80 = W
W + Resting Heart Rate = Top number of the range
Insert your own numbers to get your specific heart rate. Here is mine as an example:
220-30 (age) = 190
190-68 (Resting Heart Rate) = 122
122 x .60 = 73
73 + 68 = 141 (low target heart rate)
122 x .80 = 97
97 + 68 = 165 (high end target heart rate)
Target Range: 141-165
Don't know your resting heart rate? Take your pulse for 30 seconds (at your wrist or neck) and then double it. Viola! Resting heart rate. The average person's resting heart rate is between 72 and 78.
If you are a super athlete, you may want to bump your higher percentage up to 90.
Just remember, when you are working out, if you ever feel faint, nauseas or dizzy, back off, modify the work out, or even stop for the day and come back again tomorrow.
Now that you know what your Target Heart Rate should be, here is how to take it:
-Wear a Heart Rate Monitor (simple is better and Target and Walmart both sell them)
-Take your pulse for 10 seconds with your fingers (never your thumb). A 10 count should be somewhere between your 60%-80% range. For example, my 10 second count would be between 14-16.
There are other methods to ensuring an effective heart rate for those who can't monitor their heart beats. You can use:
-The Talk Test. During your workout, try to talk. If you can have an easy conversation or sing, the workout is not hard enough. If you can talk, but are out of breath as you do so, this is an effective workout!
-Rate of Percieved Exertion Scale (this is good for pregnant women and those taking medication to regulate their heart beat). This is a scale of 1-10. 1 meaning you are laying in bed, 10 meaning you are being chased through the mountians by a puma/man with a chainsaw/hungry grizzly bear. The goal exertion level is between 6-8, not quite hungry grizzly bear exertion, but very far from laying in bed.
You don't have to use your heart rate monitor, the talk test or the rate of percieved exertion scale all of the time. Eventually, you will know what it feels like to work out at this level, and what it feels like to be "cheating". You won't need a monitor to tell you that.
Make the Healthy Choice! Workout within your target heart rate, at least 3 times per week, at least 30 minutes per day.