How hard should you exercise? Part 1: Maximum Heart Rate

So you want to exercise but are unsure just how hard you should push it? There are three ways. The first of these (and possibly most talked about) is Maximum Heart Rate.

Maximum Heart Rates (approximate) land and water

Age      Max     80%max                  60%max

20        200      160 (150 water)   120 (110 water)

30        190       152 (142 water)    114 (104 water)

40        180       144 (134 water)    108 (98 water)

50        170       136 (126 water)    102 (92 water)

60       160        128 (118 water)     96 (86 water)

70       150        120 (110 water)    90 (80 water)

80       140        112 (102 water)     84 (74 water)

Anything over 60% Max is considered Fat Burning exercise. For Fitness work, about 75%-80% Max HR is considered optimal.

60% MaxHR exercise – You can do this comfortably for 5-10 minutes at a time. You should feel that you are working at moderate pace (i.e. couldn’t go all day!) but not overdoing it (i.e. you can do this speed for most of your workout).

80%MaxHR exercise – This can usually only be done comfortably for about a minute at a time (i.e. should feel tired and can’t go any more after about a minute. You shouldn’t be exhausted! You should recover from ALL exercise within a minute and still be able to carry on a conversation.

Please Note: These are the Theoretical Maximum Values. This will vary if you are on certain medications, have a genetic condition, heart/respiratory problems etc. You should check with your doctor and/or physiotherapist to see what the desired HR for you is before attempting more vigorous exercise. It will also change with depth of pool/temperature etc.

The Maximum HR is less is water. This is because there is:

  1. Better heat dissipation in water
  2. Reduced gravity and load on body and heart, so improved return of blood to heart
  3. Water compresses body and aids blood vessels with blood transportation
  4. Increased pressure assists oxygen absorption in water.

There is a difference of 0-15 beats with HRs in water, so for these above maximum values you can take off about 10 for water exercise to get your water maximum (see number in brackets).

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article!


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