Why measure heart rate during exercise?
The heart rate during exercise is an indicator of intensity, or in other words how hard you are working. As you get fitter, your heart rate should decrease for any given exercise workload. This is the basis of many of the submaximal aerobic fitness tests.
During exercise, your heart rate will depend on the intensity of exercise, your fitness level, and your maximum heart rate (which may also depend on your age). Some training programs set the intensity of exercise using heart rate guides. Use this table to help determine your training heart rate level based on percent intensity and age.
Measuring heart rate during exercise
It is possible to use the manual palpation method for heart rate measurement during exercise (e.g. at the wrist), though better results can be obtained using a heart rate monitor or similar device. Due to the constant movement of the athlete during exercise, it is important that you ensure there is a good connection between the heart rate monitor and the skin. In some cases you may want to stop exercising for the time you are taking the heart rate measurement. Better results are usually found during cycling exercise due to the less body movement. More about Heart Rate Measurement.
- Heart Rate and Fitness Testing
- Heart Rate Monitors - how they work.
- Weight loss article 'Weight Management and Heart Rate Monitors'
- All about Heart Rate and Exercise
- Measuring Heart Rate — how to measure using the manual and monitor methods.
- Resting Heart Rate — are you rested and recovered
- Maximum Heart Rate — how high can you go?
- A discussion of What is a normal heart rate?
- See also the table of Heart Rate training ranges
- Table of maximum heart rate related to age.
Commenting is closed on this page, though you can read some previous comments below which may answer some of your questions.
- Brian (2013)
i am 60 and my resting pulse is now 40. i have monitored resting and exercising rates all my life and i have suddenly gone from 48 beats (age 18 to 60) slowly down to 40 and am going lower. i feel well and i continue to exercise as always but i find this strange.the only difference in exercise is that i exercise 6 days moderately instead of 3 slighly harder. i am also 10 lbs lighter over a 10 week period. anybody else experiencing this pattern?
- Thesby brian (2013)
i do sometimes!
- Guest (2013)
That is WAY low. What is your blood pressure? More importantly, what is your pulse pressure. As an example (me), my resting rate is in the low 50`s, while my BP is usually in the 130/60 range. That`s a pulse pressure of 70, too high (40-45 normal). My doctor confirmed hardening of the arteries. This can cause low heart rate, and diastolic numbers, falsely leading you into believing your doing fine. I`m 49, weigh 162, and bicycle 1 1/2 hrs a day. Sounds great, but all of the years smoking (quit 10 years ago), and salty foods, done me in!
- Guest Guest (2013)
Anxiety about your blood pressure, which you seem to have, can also escalate your pulse pressure considerably. My friend had 198/95 at the Doctors office but 111/80 at home
- Lajaw Guest (2017)
White Coat Syndrome.
- Sadik Guest (2015)
We are very similar stories. I believe about 10 years later we would be like we had never smoked.
- Tom (2013)
It is not possible to know your max heart rate without being tested, it is not something that any calculation can provide. Neither is it possible to exercise at your max HR. You may think by hitting 190 you are at your max. Trust me, you are not. My theroretical max via one of the many calculators available tells me that my max is 183 but I was told that my max is actually 203 after I had a stress test. This makes since when I do tempo runs which require about 85-90% of my max heartrate I hit around 175-185....almost exactly 85% of my max of 203. My doctor confirmed it's almost impossible to hit your max for more than a few seconds before the body shuts it down for safety reasons. You will die of exhaustion before you die of your max hr.
- Amigo64 Tom (2013)
My health teacher taught us that a general way to get your max heart rate is subtracting your age from 220
- Becky Tom (2014)
max heart rate is 220-your age..... i know that and im 14.. :P
- Wkrainieteczy becky (2014)
If this is the case, i'm excercising when i should be dead... I'm 44, so my max should be 176. In reality i hit 180 few times when excercising.
- G.T. Onizuka wkrainieteczy (2017)
I'm 61 and hit 180 every day (average 150) when cycling up a steep hill. Resting HR 55-58. I do cycle 25Km/day on my MTB.
- Steven Mathews Tom (2017)
Tom is exactly right. The 220 minus your age is just a general guide for an average human body.
- Thesby (2013)
walking 18 holes on a golf course is very good for the heart!
- Delboy thesby (2016)
Walking on a golf course is not exercise, you have to raise your heart rate to exercise.
- Lt. Nimitz thesby (2016)
Not eating animal products and sub products are wonderful for your heart. If someone had a lifetime of animals better check with a cardiologist before to start any form of exercise but walking. A fiend of mine at 40 started light triathlon training and had a stroke. He is alive for a miracle and had to do many months of physiotherapy. Cut the saturated fats and cholesterol from your diet and all human made refined oils. Eat fats from ground flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts. Have a healthy life.
- Saheli (2013)
Am 36 and my heart frequency is 158 on thecross trainer.is this really worrying now
- Nabil akil (2013)
hi dear am now 52 years old i haven't trained for 5 years ,i was an excellent athlete till the age of 30 i use to do lot of sport but no weight ,i just started again kick boxing not as fight slow training for condition in 2 minutes my heart beet goes to 140 to 150 i take a rest in 20 seconds goes to 120 then in about minute between 105 110 ....any advice how high my heart rate max should be, am over weight 117kg height 1.84 but physically am good even i can make push ups with one hand 8x it was just for a try i wouldn't do it again. I am panic person as i have 4 kids thanks in advance
- Alejandro nabil akil (2014)
Your heart seems to be perfectly normal. Your readings are good as you are fit. Just be careful to low your colesterol and triglycerides and monitor your sugar levels to keep on going safely while you exercise hard.
- Bastiat (2014)
Does altitude affect this at all? Obviously the higher altitude means less oxygen which means your heart works harder; so are the values here for exercise at sea level? I ask because I'm in Afghanistan and I'm not sure if I should take the numbers at face value.
- Rob Admin Bastiat (2014)
These values would be for sea level, you are right you should consider the effect of altitude - there are short term and long term effects on heart rate.
- Todd Simanski (2017)
I work out 5 to 6 days a week doing circuit style (cardio) workouts 2-3 of the days and strength the other 3 days. We recently started using heart monitors during our workouts. As a 55 year old male with a resting heart rate of 62 bpm. My max heart rate was calculated at 165 bpm, with a target range of 83 bpm - 140 bpm (50% to 85% of max). On my first cardio workout (45 minutes), my range was from 94 bpm to a max of 170 bpm, with an average range of 147 bpm, which is 89% of my target range. For 30 minutes of the 45 minute workout, I was in the 90% to 103% of my max heart rate. My concern is I did not feel like I was working out that hard and felt I could have easily pushed myself more without being exhausted. I was working up a good sweat, and breathing was elevated, but I was able to carry on a conversation with no problem during the workout. Has anyone else experienced this, or what do these numbers say about me?
- Comment (2015)
bradycardia check it out
- Simone Herbert (2015)
I am 49 & had a cycle for 15 mins didn't push myself & my heart rate went up to 200?
- Scott (2015)
i have just finishes playing football it was onlt for half n hour but now im getting palpation n a fast pulse 110 is that normal i did have some energy drinks about n hour before i played
- Harsh Singh (2015)
Am 26 m and my heart frequency is 190 on the cross trainer is this really worrying now
- I'm 40 yrs old. I weigh 187lbs. I am male. I have taken the following measurements from a heart rate monitor which I check against monitors fitted to equipment in the gym I use 6 times a week. I can get my heart upto 189 bpm whcih i find tiring after about thirty seconds. When resting my heart is around 60 bpm. After training at 165 bpm-ish for one hour my heart rate goes to 120 within a minute and back to 60bpmish within 10 mins. I would consider myself to have being unfit 6 weeks ago. I am happy with what I have read on your website thanks. Btw I also use an app to monitor my food / drink / exercise activities and never break the daily 10 calories for each 1lb of body fat rule. I've stopped snoring, sleep better and weight is decreasing at a rate I would consider sensible (no more than 3 lbs /week). Training is now a habit so it feels easier and more rewarding. (from Ian, Apr 2013)
- I've just started at the gym and do half hour everyday my heart rate is between 78-92 all the time im working out im 47 and a diabetic on insulin my boyfriend has been at the gym for 10 years hes 52 and his heart rate is 152 im on medication is this normal (from Sue Fulcher, Jan 2013)
- If you want to decrease your heartrate and increase your overall health, try to incorporate a high percentage raw vegan diet into your lifestyle, it'll be the best thing you ever do : ) (from Steviek198, Jan 2013)
- I LIKE TO KNOW ABOUT MY HEART RATE. MY AGE IS 54 AND WHEN I DO EXERCISE MY HEART RATE GOES TO 125 - 135. MY QUESTION IS MY HEART RATE IS GOOD OR NOT. ALSO I HAD OPEN HEART SERGERY IN 2005. (from BITTU, Jan 2013)
- I am a 49 year old male, running now for about 4 months, 5' 9" and about 195lbs. I run regularly between 3 miles and 6 miles taking in a monthly 10k race. I use a suunto ambit and hrm. My heart rate initially raise rapidly to around 184-9 for about half a mile then suddenly drops into the 150-158 bracket for the rest of the run dependant on how much i am pushing it. Is this initial heart rate rise and fall normal ? (from Graham Beardsley, Jan 2013)
- Can you tell me the difference between an unconditioned heart rate and a conditioned heart rate ie if a 70 yr olds heart rate was between 105 and 125(unconditioned) or a 70 yr olds heart beat was between 115 and 135.(conditioined) what would be the better heart rate? (from claudine, Sept 2012)
- Hi. I'm a 56 year old male. I've had swollen ankles for a few weeks now, so this morning went out and purchased a Bodi Tek Circulation Plus in an attempt to ease pain in the ankles. Its great. It works. Even in a short time. Then I strapped my Polar Heart Rate monitor to my chest and straight away saw that my heart rate has risen to 228-232 . Is this safe and if so how long can I allow this rate to continue please. (from john, 28 Aug 2012)
- In reply to some of the messages below. Read up on recovery rate and Maximum heart rate. Its not what you can do but how long it takes you to recover. (from terry, July 2012)
- I am 66 female - run 3 days a week for an hour - ride a bike for 1/2 hr once a week- do yard work, cut grass , watch grandkids- 5'11'' -150 lbs -was told my resting heart rate is too high - it is usually around 80 - do I have a reason to be concern- BP is 110/60 (from Linda Hearn, July 2012)
- I've been working out. I'm a 32yr. old female and i weigh 190lbs. I've been walking on the treadmill for 20min. everyday. i press the button for fat burner at a speed of 3.0. it takes me on a crazy incline from 8-15! which i don't mind but my heart rate stays at about 120 ... is this good? (from jennifer, July 2012)
- I'm 66 years old and can not get my heart rate over 130 hpm after 15 min. of heavy exercising on a treadmill is this ok ? (from Tom Jepson, July 2012)
- I am a 68 yo male. I mountain bike ride in the desert mts near my home 6mi every other day all yr round. I target an average of 126 BPM. In the summer I ride only when the temp is below 100F. What would you recommend as far as a BPM range? I interval my workout every 2 miles. I am in excellent health. I hit 156 bpm during a clinic cardio stress test with no problems. I live in Phoenix Az at 1550 ft above sea level. (from William Fogell, 15 July 2012)
- I am a 50 year old female and my resting heart rate is 52. After about 30 minutes of walking as briskly as I can my heart rate is 124. Is this enough for me to get in better shape? Burn calories? (from Carolyn, July 2012)
- Hi! I just finished exercising for 30 min (dancing, running in place, and strength). Right after, I took my heart rate for a minute, which was 122. I lead a pretty sedentary lifestyle, I don't really exercise that often. Did I do my heart rate the correct way? (from Natalie, June 2012)
- I'm 63 years old, the only time i feel pumped is when i run around the house for about 10 minutes.. my heart rate goes to about 150 beats. is this good exercise? (from Bob, June 2012)
- Hello, I'm 33 and weigh 87.6 kg, my exercise routine consists of skipping for 20 minutes, after that my bpm is 152. i then do 3 reps of weights and my bpm is 160. Some times I run 8 minute kilometers for 2.5 ks and i exercise 4 times a week and it stays the same, im confused how to up my reps with a low heart rate, ive been told im unfit by a personell trainer !! please help with suggestions. (from Travis, June 2012)