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Heart Rate and Heart Rate Training Zones

Are you monitoring your heart rate when you exercise? Do you know your resting heart rate and maximum heart rate? Are you exercising within your Training Heart Rate Zones?

According to the American College of Sports Medicine there exist a direct correlation between heart rate and exercise intensity. Exercise has both short and long-term effects on a person’s heart rate. In the short term, exercise raises the heart rate. However, repeated exercise causes a person’s resting heart rate to be lower. This can cause a variety of health benefits, particularly with regards to reducing the risk of heart disease.

Your heart rate is a good indicator of how intensely you should exercise and train to continue to see improvements. Variation in heart rate should be an essential part of your workout program. By creating or participating in an exercise programs that use various heart rate ranges (Heart Rate Training Zones) you can improve your cardiovascular efficiency and enhance functioning of your multiple energy systems.

Resting heart rate is the heart rate at rest. Lower heart rates indicate higher levels of health and fitness. A resting heart rate between 60 to 100 beats per minute is considered normal. More fit individuals can have resting heart rates as low as 40 to 60 beats per minutes. A lower resting heart rate causes less strain on the heart, reducing the risk of cardiac-related disease and/or death. An over-elevated resting heart rate greater than 100 beats per minutes can result in dizziness, nausea, fainting and in some cases, cardiac arrest. If your resting heart rate is greater than 100 beats per minute you should consult your doctor before engaging in any physical or strenuous activities.

To improve your cardiovascular health, it is recommended to exercise for a period of 20 to 60 minutes at an intensity level that targets your cardiovascular system. This is usually between 60 and 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. Maximum heart rate is an estimate of your heart rate if you were to physically exert at 100 percent intensity.

Getting an accurate reading of your heart rate during exercise especially at the peak of your exercise intensity can be problematic. In order to accurately count your heart rate for 1 minute you have to stop what you are doing, find your pulse and count your heart beat. If you’re physically fit and your heart is efficient you can drop 20 beats in 1 minute.

Monitoring your heart rate during exercise can help you avoid health hazards associated with elevated heart rate. It can also help you gauge the intensity of your workout. If your heart rate falls below the low end of your target heart rate range, then increase the intensity of your workout. On the other hand, if your heart rate peaks above the higher end of your target heart rate range, then decrease the intensity of your workout. This is called Training Heart Rate Zones.

Training Heart Rate Zones are ranges calculated from your maximum heart rate. The easiest zone is zone 1 and the highest zone is zone 5. Zone #1 is a heart healthy zone (Gray) and ranges from about 50 to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate. Zone #2 is a little more challenging (Blue) and ranges from 60 to 70 percent. Zone #3 is aerobic zone (Green) and ranges from 70 to 80 percent. Zone #4 is a threshold zone (Yellow) and can be very challenging even for people who exercise on a regular basis. The highest zone is zone #5 (Red) this zone is very challenging even for athletes. This is 90 to 100 percent of your maximum heart rate and is a level of exertion that you cannot sustain for a long period of time.

The benefit of zone training go beyond lowering your risk for cardiovascular diseases. If you are trying to lose weight, you can potentially burn more calories as there is a direct correlation between intensity and calories burned. This can also aid in weight maintenance. For endurance athletes, zone training can help prevent over or under training. It can also help determine a pace for a race day or the intensity of the workout.

The best way to improve heart rate training is by slowly increasing your heart. If your target heart rate zone is 132 to 156 beats per minute, then focus on increasing your lower threshold number in five to ten minute increments. Focus on continuously activity that use large muscle groups like running, cycling, swimming.

Injuries occur when the body is pushed too hard too quickly before the body is able to adapt to the exercise being perform. When completing heart rate, training gradually increase intensity level, build endurance level, and include cross training exercises as part of your exercise routine. This lowers the chance of overuse injuries and allows to train different muscles of the body.

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