Helps you calculate your target heart rate based on your age, resting heart rate, and activity level. Covers using your target heart rate to know how hard to exercise to gain the most aerobic benefit from your workout.
Interactive Tool: What Is Your Target Heart Rate?
What does this tool help you learn?
will help you find your target heart rate based on your age, resting heart rate, and activity level. Your target heart rate can guide you to how hard you should
exercise so you can get the most aerobic benefit from your workout.
Do not use this target heart rate measurement if
you are taking medicine that affects your heart rate, such as beta-blockers,
calcium channel blockers, or digoxin. Talk to your doctor before you start an exercise
How does this tool measure your target heart rate?
Target heart rates can be measured in slightly different ways. In this
tool, your target heart rate is measured using your maximum heart rate (based
on your age), your resting heart rate, and how active you are. The calculation
used in this tool is accurate for all activity levels, from inactive to very
How can you take your resting heart rate?
You can easily
take your own pulse to find your resting heart rate. You can check your
resting pulse the first thing in the morning, just after you wake up but before
you get out of bed. Or you can sit or rest quietly for at least 10 minutes and
then take your pulse.
What is your activity level?
Your target heart rate depends on how physically fit
you are. For example, if you are not active and not physically fit, your target
heart rate is a little lower than the target heart rate of someone who
exercises every day. This tool gives you a range of what your target heart rate
is, based on how much you usually exercise.
find your target heart rate range, you will choose the category that best
matches your level of physical activity. The categories are:
Not active. You do less than 30 minutes
of light activity no more than 2 times a week. Cleaning house, slow walking,
and playing golf are examples of light activity.
Moderately active. You do up to 30 minutes of light to
moderate activity 3 to 5 times a week. Brisk walking, jogging, riding a bike,
swimming, and playing tennis are examples of moderate activity.
Very active. You do more than 30 minutes of
moderate activity at least 5 times a week.
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.
Other Works Consulted
Anspaugh DJ, et al. (2011). Increasing cardiorespiratory endurance. Wellness: Concepts and Applications, 8th ed., pp. 75–97. New York: McGraw-Hill.
McArdle WD, et al. (2010). Training for anaerobic and aerobic power. In Exercise Physiology: Nutrition, Energy, and Human Performance, 7th ed., pp. 451–489. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Richard B. Kreider, PhD, MX, DPC, FACSM, FASEP - Exercise Physiology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.