Your target heart rate during exercise depends on various factors, including your age, fitness level, and workout goals. Monitoring your heart rate can help you ensure you’re exercising safely and effectively for your specific needs.

The Karvonen formula is commonly used to estimate your target heart rate range during exercise. Here’s how to calculate it:

Calculate your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR): Subtract your age from 220. For example, if you’re 30 years old, your estimated MHR would be 190 (220 – 30).

Determine Your Target Heart Rate Range: Based on your fitness goals and exercise intensity, you can use the following guidelines:

  • Moderate Intensity: This is typically around 50-70% of your MHR. For a 30-year-old, it would be a range of approximately 95-133 beats per minute (bpm).
  • Vigorous Intensity: This is usually around 70-85% of your MHR. For a 30-year-old, it would be a range of approximately 133-162 bpm.
  • High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT workouts involve short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by brief rest periods. Your heart rate during the high-intensity intervals may reach 85% or more of your MHR.


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You can use a heart rate monitor or wearable fitness tracker or check your pulse manually to monitor your heart rate during exercise. If using a wearable device, be sure it’s accurate and properly positioned. If checking manually, you can do so by placing your index and middle fingers on your wrist (radial artery) or neck (carotid artery) and counting the number of beats in 15 seconds, then multiplying by four to get beats per minute.

Another way to monitor your heart rate during exercise without a wearable device is to use the talk test: if you can talk but not sing during your workout, you’re likely exercising at a moderate intensity. If you can say only a few words before pausing for breath, you’re probably exercising at a vigorous intensity.

Remember that your target heart rate is just a guideline! Paying attention to how your body responds during and after exercise is crucial. Any signs of excessive fatigue, pain, or other abnormal responses should be taken seriously, and professional advice should be sought.

Additional Aspects:

  • Hydration and Nutrition: Ensuring adequate hydration and nutrition before, during, and after exercise is crucial to support energy needs, recovery, and overall health.
  • Rest and Recovery: Adequate rest periods between sessions of exercise and allowing for recovery following high-intensity or prolonged workouts is vital to minimize the risk of injury and support physiological adaptation and improvement.
  • Progressive Overload: Gradually increasing the intensity and/or duration of exercise over time (rather than making large jumps in demand) will help to minimize the risk of injury and ensure that the body has time to adapt and improve.

Where can I get Professional Guidance:

  • Medical Practitioners: Always seek advice from healthcare professionals before initiating any exercise program, especially if there are existing health conditions, medications, or other factors that might influence the safety and efficacy of exercise.
  • Biokineticists and Physiotherapists: These specialists can prescribe specific exercise programs tailored to individual needs, capabilities, and health status.

Lastly, a structured exercise program should emphasise consistency, enjoyment, and sustainability to ensure long-term adherence and derive ongoing health and fitness benefits. Always prioritize engaging in activities that you enjoy and that fit into your lifestyle to make your exercise routine sustainable and beneficial in the long term.