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MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,412
2/1/12 6:57 P

Princess Mandie,

Yes, really intense exercise can pose a risk.

But heart rate is not the best measure of exercise intensity for everyone, for reasons that SERGEANTMAJOR has pointed out.

A high heart rate that is the result of working out really hard on the Rate of Perceived Exertion scale and/or failing the 'talk test' may be an issue.

A high heart rate but a low RPE may suggest that heart rate is not the best measure for that particular person.
details the Rate of Perceived Exertion and other ways to assess workout intensity.


2/1/12 1:26 P

I never said that going over heart rate WILL result in death. I said it can increase your chances of doing more damage than good. As you get healthier your target heart rate can change. However, you should not aim to go above your target heart rate on a regular basis. Your heart is a muscle and over worked it can go into failure just like any other organ in your body.

MERRYBE SparkPoints: (4,177)
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2/1/12 12:37 P

You all rock! SeargeantMajor, I like your reasons for using RPE. And I'd been wondering about the accuracy of the monitors on the gym equipment as well - one of them shows my heart rate jumping from 140 to 190 to 170 in a matter of seconds - I hope my heart's not doing that! emoticon

MOBIUS31 SparkPoints: (0)
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2/1/12 11:04 A

I had concerns as well. Thanks for the explanation.

PAT4PROG Posts: 652
2/1/12 11:01 A

I sometimes wonder how accurate those HR monitors on the gym cardio machines are anyways. I don't read too much into it, which might not be right, but just use it as a general guide. My body usually does a really good job of letting me know if I'm over doing it.

FITCHALLENGER SparkPoints: (0)
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1/31/12 7:47 P

Talking from experience here... I don't think there is any risk. After recovering from high blood pressue and arrythmia, I usually work at 105% of my maximum heart rate (220-age), and I am in perfect condition and never had a problem.

If you have a medical condition, then you should be more carefull, but if you don't, then give it your best shot.

1/31/12 7:29 P

Without going into a review lecture on Bell Curves from Statistics 101 let me remind you that all of the instruments which posit a maximum heart rate are based on an average. The algorithms are are based on the average of 50% of the sample with the other 50% divided into two 25% groups at either end. This is a built in error which the instruments can not adjust for or correct.

If we measure your exertion level in a laboratory regardless of what your heart rate is, your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) will have a one to one correspondence with the measured exertion The nice thing about using your RPE is that it automatically recalibrates every day to reflect your ability for that day.

KBENTLEY2646 Posts: 77
1/31/12 5:37 P

Thanks for posting this question - I had been wondering the same thing myself. It was very helpful!

MERRYBE SparkPoints: (4,177)
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1/31/12 4:42 P

Awesome - I'd forgotten about those other ways to measure! Thanks for the help everyone :)

SPARK_COACH_JEN Posts: 64,978
1/31/12 4:06 P

I agree with Zorbs. Target heart rate is an average calculation that doesn't work for everyone. Try using the Talk Test or Rate of Perceived Exertion instead to measure the intensity of your workout.

Hope that helps,

Coach Jen

ZORBS13 SparkPoints: (183,621)
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1/31/12 3:14 P


that is absolutely untrue. If dropping dead from going over your heart rate was true, there would probably be at least 1 death at the gym every day. If you feel OK, you can go beyond even 100% of maximum heart rate and be just fine. Obviously, this isn't something a beginner to cardio should do, but you will NOT drop dead going over. I was well over my maximum HR for 40 minutes during a race, most times during short races I'm near max or over..and I'm NOWHERE near death, thank you very much.

Target heart rates are what some people call a SWAG. Go by perceived exertion instead.

Edited by: ZORBS13 at: 1/31/2012 (15:28)
1/31/12 2:47 P

I wouldn't because you could increase your risk of going into cardiac arrest (where your heart stops) or having a heart attack (traditional chest pains, shortness of breath symptoms). If you do so accidentally once I wouldn't worry about it, but doing this over and over again may damage your heart more than doing it good.

MPLANE37 SparkPoints: (76,976)
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1/31/12 2:39 P

If you don't have any risk factors, that should be OK. But you would need an OK from your medical doctor to be on the safe side.

MERRYBE SparkPoints: (4,177)
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1/31/12 2:21 P

I've been going to the gym for the past couple of weeks, but I'm a beginner at gym equipment and didn't really think until recently "hmm, I wonder if my heart rate is in the right range for how hard I'm working?" I just used the target heart rate tool here on SP and found out that at 85% (the top number listed), my thr is 172 - which is kind of scary to me, because I've been spending at least 20 minutes a few times a week on an elliptical trainer with my heart rate between 175-180. Yikes! I've just been pushing myself as hard as I felt comfortable going for an extended period of time, but should I slow down? If it makes a difference, I usually do some easier cardio first (like a recumbent bike, which lists my heart rate around 140-150), the elliptical, then some strength training - so I've been feeling like even though I push myself hard, it's just a part of my workout. Is this dangerous?

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