Most of us have heard all about the benefits of regular cardiovascular activity. Not only is it good for keeping down your weight and producing those all-powerful happiness endorphins that are proven to combat anxiety and depression, but it also keeps your heart, and other parts of your body, healthy and functioning at peak performance. Elevating your heart rate is a positive thing when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but when is too much? Is there a point where a heart can become elevated too much? Paying attention to how you are feeling while you are exercising is a good thing to do; this will help gauge when you are pushing yourself too far. There are also some benchmark indicators of how much a heart rate should be elevated during exercise, and we will explore those shortly.
Why Is It a Good Thing to Elevate Your Heart Rate
Your heart is the most important muscle in your body. Not only does it keep the blood circulating throughout your body, but it also helps transport oxygen and important nutrients to the body’s organs and throughout the body as a whole. When a heart rate is elevated in a healthy way, such as during sex or exercise, that muscle is working harder and pumping faster. Like any muscle in the body, if you don’t use it, you lose it. And then what happens when you suddenly need it: you likely push yourself too far or end up sustaining an injury.
Sudden Heart Rate Elevations
Consider someone who never goes for a jog and suddenly decides to run a marathon. All those muscles in their body, not to mention their heart, are suddenly working overtime and are struggling to keep up with the demands suddenly placed on their body. This is when people injure themselves because they are pushing their bodies too far without proper preparation. When the heart is elevated too much or too quickly and is unaccustomed to it, this is when the heart can experience strain, and this can result in a heart attack or stroke.
Heart Rate Indicators
The average person between the age of 20 to 45 will have a running heart rate of between 100 and 160 beats/minute. That average will fluctuate widely though based on each individual’s different factors such as age and fitness level.
The American Heart Association suggests calculating your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Once you have this number as a guide, it can help you determine what is a safe heart rate elevation, and what could be dangerous and result in overexerting yourself. For beginners, it is recommended to start with a target heart rate of 50-75 percent of your maximum heart rate for moderate activity. For vigorous exercise, you can work up to 70-85 percent of your maximum heart rate without overexerting yourself.
It can be difficult to know when too much is too much or is simply a good vigorous exercise workout. When it comes to working out or jogging with a friend, a good marker of a positive heart rate elevation is when you can still carry on a conversation while excising; this means that while your heart rate is elevated and your body is experiencing all the health benefits associated with that, it is not elevated to the point where you are exhausting yourself and causing a lot of strain on the heart and the rest of the body.
Another good indicator is how you feel after your workout or exercise regime. You should feel the burn, of course, but how tired should you really be? If you leave your workout, head home, and are useless for the rest of the day with your body crying out in pain or experiencing intense shortness of breath, chances are, you have overdone it.
If you leave your workout feeling tired and a little achy, this is normal, as long as you can carry on with the rest of your day, meet your responsibilities, and aren’t in pain or experiencing prolonged shortness of breath.
When it comes to heart rate and exercise, follow the above guidelines to calculate your maximum heart rate. Once you have that number as your guide, you are better able to gauge how your workouts are making you feel during and after.