And the Beat Goes On. Your Heart Rate

Your heart rate

What is a common heart rate/ heart beat?

Around 70 beats per minute (BPM) for adults is common. When you improve your aerobic fitness (think running and swimming) your resting heart rate should become lower as the heart becomes more efficient with each beat.

How does your heart rate change with age?

Aging can cause your heart rate to change.  It may not beat as fast during physical activity or during times of stress as it did when you were younger. However, your heart rate at rest should not change significantly with normal aging. Be advised that with certain medications, your heart rate may be affected. Please talk to your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking and their effect on your heart rate.

I like to check my heart rate weekly for rate and regularity

What if my heart rate is irregular?

Learn to take your pulse regularly

Older people can experience age-related changes in the electrical system in the heart that can lead to and irregular heart rate or what is called an arrhythmia. This irregular rate can be rapid, slow, or just irregular, as in an extra or skipped beat. Sometimes this irregularity can make you a bit more fatigued. Atrial fibrillation if often a cause of fatigue with exertion.

When you feel your pulse and it is irregular, it is good to discuss with your healthcare provider the possible reasons.  It may be just a few skips, or something you might need to explore further.

I like and encourage my fitness participants to check their heart rate and monitor it after a cardio activity. We do this during class. I expect it will go up during that activity.  I then like to check it about a minute or two later to see that it is returning back to its baseline.  That variability is important for optimal cardiovascular fitness.

What if my heart rate does not change?

Some people may be on medication that keep the heart rate at a certain level. Beta blockers will cause your hear to beat more slowly and with less force, to lower blood pressure.  With that cardio workout, if you are on beta blockers you will not see as much of a rise or fall in the heart rate.  That is expected with these medications. Target heart rates will not apply to you as much if you are on beta blockers.  The best indication is your level of fatigue. If it is hard to talk with exercise, you are probably doing too much.  Again, always check with your healthcare provider to see what is right for you.

Your heart rate during exercise

As I mentioned, I like for my fitness class members to know how to check their heart rate and monitor it during class. I use my watch with a heart rate monitor so I can quickly glance and see the rate. The below chart is based on the level of increase you should expect (again this is an estimate) based on someone who is not on medications that would affect their heart rate.

Heart Rate Chart by Training Intensity


Age

Low Intensity
(57-63%) 

Moderate Intensity
(64-76%)     

Aerobic 
Zone

(70-80%)     

Vigorous Intensity
(77-95%)     

Maximum
Intensity

(96-100%)    
50 87-104 104-121 121-139 130-147 173 
55 95-102102-119119-136128-145170
60 83-100100-117117-133125-142167
65 82-9898-114114-131123-139163
70 80-9696-112112-128120-136160
75 78-9494-110110-125117-133157
80 77-9292-107107-123115-130153
https://www.verywellfit.com/target-heart-rate-calculator-3878160

Taking your heart rate

Here is a short video I made about your heart rate.

https://youtu.be/DCOAGpwNtdg

REFERENCES:

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/arrhythmia

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/four-types-exercise-can-improve-your-health-and-physical-ability

Sandi Feaster

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