Any activity is better than complete inactivity. Listen to your body and note that any kind of physical activity improves your heart’s health.
It’s the workout’s duration, frequency and intensity combined that matters. In choosing ways to train your heart, it is important to know that jogging, jumping and ball games are not good for everyone – if you’re overweight or suffer from a joint disease, these kinds of sports could put too much strain on your knee joints.
You can find out the intensity suitable for exercising your heart, based on your heart rate.
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To find your target heart rate, first you need to know how to take your pulse:
- Take a brief break from exercising to take your pulse. To measure your pulse at the wrist, place your index and middle fingers on the inside of your opposite wrist, below the base of the thumb. To measure your pulse at the neck, place your index and middle fingers to the side of the Adam's apple.
- Count the number of beats you feel for 10 seconds.
- Multiply this number by 6 to give you the beats per minute.
Your target heart rate is a percentage of your maximum heart rate, which is the fastest your heart can beat. It is based on your age. The activity level that is best for your health uses 50 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate. This range is your target heart rate zone giving your heart the most benefit.
- To find your approximate maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220.
- Exercising at 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, based on your age, has the effect of maintaining your physical performance level and lowering your body weight,
- Exercising at 70 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate, based on your age, has the effect of promoting your heart health.
- You may experience a slight fatigue during and after exercising which is an evidence of the effect of the effort. If you get overly exhausted or don’t feel well after workout it may indicate you over trained this time.
For moderate intensity exercise, your target heart rate should be 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate.
For vigorous exercise, your target heart rate should be 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate.
Intensity is how hard your body is working during aerobic activity.
Aerobic exercise - is any kind of exercise that uses your larger muscles and gets your heart beating faster. Aim to get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week.
How do you know if you're doing moderate or vigorous aerobic activity?
On a 10-point scale, where sitting is 0 and working as hard as you can is 10, moderate-intensity aerobic activity is a 5 or 6. It will make you breathe harder and your heart beat faster.
You'll also notice that you'll be able to talk, but not sing the words to your favorite song while exercising with moderate intensity.
Vigorous-intensity activity is a 7 or 8 on this scale.
Your heart rate will increase quite a bit.
You will be breathing hard enough so that you won't be able to say more than a few words without stopping to catch your breath.
1 minute of vigorous-intensity activity is about the same as 2 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.
When you first start exercising, aim for the lower number for your age range target heart rate. As you get fitter, you can slowly work towards the higher number.
If your heart rate is lower than your target heart rate, you may not be exercising hard enough to benefit your heart. If your heart rate is higher than your target, you may be exercising too hard.
NB! Some blood pressure medicines can lower your target heart rate. If you take medicine for high blood pressure, ask your doctor what range is healthy for you.
You should check with your doctor before starting any new activity if it's been a while since you were active or if you have any of the following conditions:
- High blood pressure
- A heart condition
- Another health problem
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