DECODING HEART RATE ZONE CALCULATOR
What is ‘heart rate’?
To understand heart rate zone calculators, let us first understand heart rate and why it is important to consider the same. Simply put, heart rate is the number of times that your heart beats in one minute. A normal heart rate is between 60 to 100 beats per minute (BPM). Slower than 60 beats is called bradycardia and faster than 100 beats is called tachycardia.
There are several positive and negative reasons for why a person’s heart rate may be slow or fast. Heart rate can go below 60 BPM due to sleep, certain medications, or even being physically fit. On the flip side, it may also be due to certain infections, underactive thyroid glands, or excessive potassium in the blood.
Heart rate can go above 100 BPM due to pregnancy, exercise, or even owing to excitement or stimulation. On the other hand, infections, low levels of potassium in blood, anemia and some medications may also lead to this factor.
It is important to know one’s heart rate because the heart circulates oxygen and blood through the body. Hence, any disbalance in the same might be a wake-up for impending health problems, which if addressed in time, maybe better rectifiable.
Heart rates as per gender and age
Usually, it is seen that the heart rate of a female will be 2 to 7 BPMs faster than a male. Heart rates can also vary as per age, especially when the person is a child. For instance, a newborn’s heart rate will be 100-160 BPM, a child between 1 to 3 years of age may have a BPM of 80-130, and a preteen’s heart rate will be between 60-105 BPMs. Of course, factors like stress, obesity, and smoking can cause erratic changes in a person’s heart rate.
In order to get an optimally correct idea of a person’s health, two types of heart rates are taken into cognizance. These are, resting heart rate, and maximum heart rate. Resting heart rate is calculated best in the morning after you wake up and have not consumed any caffeine-laced substances. A simple way to calculate resting heart rate is by placing two fingers on your wrist or on the side of the neck and measuring the pulse beats per minute. Doing this activity seven to ten days in a row will give you the closest correct average of your resting BPM. Alternately, you can also use strap-on trackers or heart rate monitors that act as good resting heart rate calculators.
Maximum heart rate (MHR) means the maximum number of times your heart beats in one minute. A simple formula to calculate what your average MHR is 220-your age. Contemporary methods like Tanaka method calculate it as 208-0.7 x your age. However, this formula does not consider the level of physical activity you indulge in, or your overall fitness levels. A more accurate way to measure MHR is to undergo a stress test under a doctor’s supervision.
How to calculate heart rate zones?
In order to arrive at your ideal heart rate zone, it is essential to know your Heart Reserve Rate (HRR). The best-used Karvonen formula calculates HRR as HRmax – HR rest. HRR means the heartbeats that you have on reserve for exercise. It shows what level of intensity your body can take while exercising. Using your MHR, you can calculate your desired target heart rate zone. It is the level at which your heart is being exercised without being overworked. The formula to calculate THRmax is desired training intensity x HRmax.
While entering a fitness/exercise regime for the first time, it is best to aim for the lower end of the target heart rate zone. Ideally, for a moderately intensive exercise regimen, the target heart rate should be 64-76% of the MHR. With an increase in intensity of the exercise regimen, this figure can change to 77-93% of MHR.
To furnish an example, the estimated maximum age-related heart rate for a 40-year-old person, using the traditional method would be calculated as 220 – 40 years = 180 BPM. If he wants to indulge in vigorous physical exercise, then his heart rate will have to be maintained at:
- 185 x 0.77 = 138 bpm (approx), and
- 185 x 0.93 = 167 bpm (approx)
In other words, he will have to choose physical activities that will maintain his training heart rate between 138 and 167 BPMs. If he is newly starting vigorous exercise, it is best advised to start with a regimen that’ll maintain his heart rate nearer to 138 BPMs, rather than the higher scale.
Heart rate zones are calculated considering what percentage of MHR can your body work-out best at, without causing stress to the heart. There are five zones as follows which have been segregated as per the level of BPMs your body should be at while exercising. These five zones are:
- Zone 1 – 50-60% of MHR (Level of effort required – Very light)
- Zone 2 – 60-70% of MHR (Level of effort required – Light)
- Zone 3 – 70-80% of MHR (Level of effort required – Moderate)
- Zone 4 – 80-90% of MHR (Level of effort required – Hard)
- Zone 5 – 90-100% of MHR (Level of effort required -Very Hard)
In keeping with your age, other stress levels, overall health, and gender, it is best to chart a workout that’ll increase in intensity gradually and will adhere to the above parameters, so as to avoid stressing your heart and the overall physical body.
It is advisable to work with trained professionals to determine the various parameters like your MHR and THRmax to chart a regimen that’ll benefit you, rather than causing harm.
Harvard Health Publishing – https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/hows-your-heart-rate-and-why-it-matters
Max Heart Rate Calculator – https://codepen.io/jasonday/full/YzyxaxK