Take your pulse (at wrist or neck is best) before you get out of bed. Count the # of beats in a minute. Then, knowing this as your true resting heart rate, you can find out what intensity you need to be working at during cardio in order to reach your goals. If you perform a 3 minute step test, take your pulse immediately after, you can use these 2 pulse #'s to find your Heart Rate Reserve, and you can use this to find a target heart rate range that is subjective to you.
Maximum Heart Rate assumes everyone of a certain age has the same resting heart rate, and this is not fact. By using Heart Rate Reserve, you can find the target heart rate range to meet your specific goals.
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Having a hard time exercising in your target heart rate zone? Maybe you need to check your resting heart rate! If you are getting regular cardio, your resting heart rate will decrease. Since your target heart rate is based on your resting heart rate, it's important to periodically check your resting heart rate and adjust your target heart rate as your resting heart rate decreases.
Think of your heart as a muscle that needs regular exercise
The heart is a muscle, and by exercising regularly, it will become more efficient - "stronger". A fit heart can pump more blood in fewer strokes (beats). Your resting heart rate will decrease as you get into shape. Your average heart rate will also improve for a given activity, making it seem easier to perform.
MONITOR YOU'RE BLOOD PRESSURE AND RESTING HEART RATE! It's really amazing how these numbers go down with increased exercise and a sensible diet. Start walking to the drug store to get a BP reading or just take your pulse randomly when you're sitting down reading or watching TV. Anything over ~140/90 is not great, 120/80 is normal but shoot for the 110/70's range. Resting heart rate should NOT be over 80. Shoot for 50's to Low 70's.
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