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Exercise: Measuring Your Pace

Getting your heart to work at the right pace means you’ll develop better aerobic endurance. This happens because your heart gets stronger and more efficient from the challenge. A stronger heart can pump more oxygen to your muscles. Then you don’t tire as quickly during your hobbies, sports, or daily activities.

Close-up of man checking his pulse rate in his wrist.

How does it feel?

Listening to your body is the best way to decide if an exercise pace is right for you. If you do too much, you’ll tire too quickly or get hurt. If you do too little, you won’t get the health rewards you want.

Note: During or after exercise, you should not feel sick, dizzy, or very tired. After you’re done, you should feel normal in about 10 minutes. If you’re very tired or very sore the next day, you may have exercised too hard.

TARGET HEART RATE, Source: American Heart Association. American Heart Association guide to heart attack treatment, recovery, and prevention. New York: Random House, 1996:239.

Your target heart rate

When you exercise, you should keep your heart rate within a safe range. This is called your target heart rate range. Your heart rate is measured by taking your pulse. (If you don’t know how to take your pulse, ask your health care provider to show you how.) Take your pulse regularly as you exercise to be sure you’re within your target heart rate range. When you exercise at the right heart rate, you burn calories and strengthen your heart safely.

Finding your target heart rate

Your target heart rate is based on your age and health. So first ask your health care provider how much exercise is safe for you. If you’re healthy, you can use the chart at right to find your target heart rate range. If your heart rate goes too high, slow down until you’re back in your range.

Online Medical Reviewer: Carman, Jody, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: Pape, Joy, RN, BSN, CDE, WOCN, CFCN
Last Review Date: 2/27/2012
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