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Over 50 And Fit: Monitoring Your Heart Rate

Your heart rate (the number of times your heart beats in one minute, which is the same as your pulse rate) is an important indicator of your overall heart health, especially if you have any health conditions that include the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Harvard Medical School

Every minute of every day. Year after year. Decade after decade. Your heart is always working for you but are you working for your heart?

Devices for Measuring Fitness 

There are many devices for measuring heart rate. Wearable technology, such as a Fitbit, that one wears on one’s wrist, has become very popular. Such devices show your heart rate in real-time. More information on these devices will appear in my next blog.

Alternatively, you can use the manual method. Lightly press the index and middle fingers of one hand on the opposite wrist, just below the base of the thumb on the inner forearm. You can count the number of beats for either 15 seconds, and multiply by four, or 30 seconds, and multiply by two, or 60 seconds. This will give you your heart rate in “beats per minute” (or bpm). Keep in mind that the manual method can be awkward when you are in the middle of training, so a device is more convenient.

Resting Heart Rate 

One of the most important measurements is your resting heart rate – how many times your heart beats at rest. The best time to take this is first thing in the morning. The generally accepted resting heart rate for an adult is 60-100 bpm although it varies from person to person depending on several factors, including age, gender and fitness level. If your resting heart rate consistently falls outside of this range, it is advisable to consult your doctor. My own doctor recently found that my resting heart rate was 40 bpm and referred me to a cardiologist.

Fortunately, there wasn’t a problem as my resting heart rate has always been quite low. This following site gives an excellent analysis of resting heart rate: Topendsports.com/testing/heart-rate-resting

Target Heart Rate 

Your target heart rate is the healthy range of how fast your heart should be beating when exercising. In short, it can tell you if you are pushing too hard or too little. In order to establish these ranges, you need to calculate your maximum heart rate (HRmax), which is the highest number of times your heart can beat in one minute. A generally accepted mathematical formula can be used to calculate this: 220 minus your age. For instance, mine is 220 – 84 = 136 bpm, which represents the highest number of times my heart can beat in one minute.

Following are some examples of light, moderate and high intensity training:

Light intensity: a casual walk, beginning yoga class, easy pace on a treadmill, housework.

Moderate intensity: a brisk walk, lap swimming, walking uphill, heavy work in the garden.

High intensity: most forms of exercise at a vigorous pace. As a beginner, you should avoid this category.

You may now be ready to embark on an exercise programme. (Remember to keep hydrated and drink lots of water.)

Caution: I strongly urge you to consult your family doctor before you begin an exercise program, particularly if you have not exercised for a long period of time. In addition, start slowly and gradually add more time and then intensity.

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About The Author
Barrie Street
Barrie Street
Teaching has been one of my major passions, mainly involved at the secondary school level. I am entering my 57th year of teaching Math with the same passion as when I began. Spending so much time with young people – whether teaching or coaching them soccer, field hockey, tennis, cross-country running, cricket or ping pong – has kept me young in mind. Young people will always remain the back-bone of society and to help them grow and mature has always been a privilege. Over50andFit.ca.
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