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Exercise zone: Not too hard, not too easy

Updated on May 15, 2007

Benefits of exercise

  1. Following are some of the benefits of exercise:
  2. Maintains or builds muscle mass
  3. Reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels (less risk of heart disease)
  4. Increases energy
  5. Regulates bowel function
  6. Strengthens bones (less risk of osteoporosis)
  7. Improves blood circulation
  8. Increases lung capacity
  9. Helps with sound, restful sleep
  10. Lowers stress

By now we should all know the many benefits of exercise (there are just a few of the many listed at the right). Aerobic exercise strengthens your lungs and heart. Walking, jogging, running, swimming, hiking, and cycling are forms of this exercise. This movement increases the rate and depth of your breathing, which in turn increases how much blood and oxygen your heart pumps to your muscles. To achieve the maximum benefit of this kind of exercise, you should find your "exercise zone" and workout in it for at least 20 minutes 3 times a week. This "exercise zone" the an area that is not too hard, but not too easy, and will burn maximum calories and give your body the most benefit. So how do you find YOUR EXERCISE ZONE?

To find your exercise zone you need to explore your target heart rate is the rate (the number of times your heart beats per minute) at which you receive the maximum benefit from exercise. At your target heart rate, you're working hard but not too hard. To find your target heart rate, you have to measure your pulse at different times while you exercise. The table below gives target heart rates for different ages. If you're just starting out, aim for the lower end of your range. To measure your heart rate while you're exercising, find your pulse (usually easiest to find at your wrist near the base of your thumb, or on the side of your neck), and count how many times you feel your pulse beat in a minute. You can also count how many times you feel your pulse beat in 10 seconds, and then multiply this number by 6.

Age: Target Heart Rate Zone 50-75%

20 years: 100-150 beats per minute

25 years: 98-146 beats per minute

30 years: 95-142 beats per minute

35 years: 93-138 beats per minute

40 years: 90-135 beats per minute

45 years: 88-131 beats per minute

50 years: 85-127 beats per minute

55 years: 83-123 beats per minute

60 years: 80-120 beats per minute

65 years: 78-116 beats per minute

70 years: 75-113 beats per minute

If you don't want to take your pulse while you are exercising, here's some other ways to tell if your workout is too hard or too easy:

  • If you can talk while you exercise, you are not working too hard.
  • If you can sing while you exercise, you are not working hard enough.
  • If you get out of breath quickly, you are working too hard.

Remember, if you are walking, jogging, or running outdoors, make sure you save enough energy for the return trip. Don't overdo it.


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