Heart to Heart: Your Guide to Understanding the Link Between your Workout and your Ticker
The heart sure gets a lot of press. It’s the frequent subject of many a film, song, fairy tale, and poem. Its name is written in love letters and uttered in wedding vows, cartoonish renderings are scribbled through notebooks and valentines in schools across the world. The emoji keyboard is rife with them, in an array of colors and sizes. It’s a pervasive concept— and image— throughout society. It conveys the presence of special, indescribable emotions— and it has for a long time. For so long, in fact, that nobody really knows how a muscular organ came to represent romance and love. It is widely assumed that this belief came from the fact that when a person is around someone they love, their heart rate increases.
Today, we know that the brain is the organ responsible for thought, and therefore romantic ponderings. However, the heart has plenty of other important jobs— namely, pumping blood through your body, hence keeping you alive. It’s also a crucial aspect of making the most out of a workout— after all, what is “cardio” short for?
If you’ve never considered the vital link between your heart rate and your fitness routine, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled some of the best advice we’ve picked up over the years and are proud to share it with our Jack City Fitness family.
Matters of the Heart (Rate)
To understand and utilize the relationship between your heartbeat and your workout, you need to become better acquainted with your cardiac organ itself. This can be accomplished by learning a bit more about your heart rates, and why they’re important. This also means finding your own unique resting, target, and maximum heartbeats.
When you put extra demand on your cardiovascular system, your heart responds by pumping blood as quickly as it can. By doing this, it’s working much harder than usual— and you’ll likely notice because your heartbeat will quicken. As a general rule of thumb, the more intense the workout, the higher your heart rate will become.
Understanding Your Resting Heart Rate
Your heart is beating all the time, not just during a workout. Right now, as you’re reading this, you’re probably sitting down. That means you’re likely at your resting heart rate at this very moment. (Though, the optimal time to check your heart for its resting rate is right when you wake up in the morning.)
Everybody’s resting heart rate is different. Some people’s hearts beat more times in a minute than others; those people have higher resting heart rates. Those with lower resting heart rates are generally in better cardiovascular health than those with higher ones— and unfortunately, having a higher rate can lead to things like a stroke or a heart attack. It’s a scary thought, but it’s something you can actively track and even control, to an extent.
Generally, the average resting heart rate is around 60-100 beats per minute, but doctors recommend to try to keep it on the lower end of that scale—ideally below 80.However, athletes and super fitness buffs can have a resting heart weight as low as 40 beats per minute.If you aren’t a serious athlete, and your heart rate comes out to below 40 beats per minute, it might be a sign of an underlying issue. The same goes for a heart that’s resting at over 100 beats per minute. If either of these is the case for you, it’s not a bad idea to check in with a doctor and make sure everything is running smoothly.
If you’ve calculated your resting heart rate, and it’s higher than the suggested amount, there’s no need to panic. You can bring your resting heart rate down significantly by engaging in a healthy workout routine with a fitness expert or coach.
As we mentioned earlier, it’s best to count your resting heart rate when you first get up, and ideally before you drink your morning cup of coffee or tea.
Getting to Know Your Maximum Heart Rate
On the other end of the scale, we have your maximum heart rate. As the name implies, this represents the absolute most beats that your heart can handle in a minute.
Your maximum heart rate, though crucial to your overall fitness knowledge and routine, is not something you’re supposed to be achieving all the time. Instead, it’s reserved for the most demanding of workouts— and even then, is impossible to keep up for more than a few minutes at a time. However, knowing your maximum heart rate will enable you to unlock your target heart rate, which is detailed below.
Your maximum heart rate, unlike your resting one, is not changeable. Working out more or less will not affect it. This also means that at a certain point, your heart rate can and will plateau— the maximum truly is your ultimate heart rate. However, your fitness levels do impact your maximum heart rate in other ways. In fact, the better cardiovascular shape you’re in, the longer you’ll be able to maintain a workout at your maximum heart rate.
To calculate your likely maximum heart rate, the formula is very simple. Simply subtract your age from 220, and you have it. According to this theory, the average maximum heart rate of a 25-year-old would be 195 beats per minute.
All About Your Target Heart Rate
As we outlined earlier, it’s possible to change your own resting heart rate by exercising and engaging in cardiovascularly healthy behavior. The reason for doing this is to achieve a target heart rate; essentially, a resting heart rate that is ideal and appropriate for your body.
Before we delve into the stats for finding your individual target heart rate, we just want to remind our readers that everybody is different. And thank goodness for that! Wouldn’t the world be boring if we were all the same? That’s not the case— but it does leave room for some errors when it comes to setting strict targets for entire demographics of people. Though the figures on charts and websites make sense for many people, they might miss the mark for some. After all, everybody has their own physical history. For example, many medications (pretty much any beta blockers) will lower both your maximum and your resting heart rates.For this reason, if you have any questions or concerns about your heart rate, you should always see a doctor. And while we’re on that note, we’d also like to remind you that your step counter and fitness counter may work wonderfully, but its word still isn’t gospel. A doctor is a real person who can comprehend your actual body and medical history.
With that said, let’s get down to the business of calculating your target heart rate. In most cases, your target heart rate should lay around 50%-70% of your maximum during a period of moderate physical activity. More intense activity should have the heart going at about 70%-85% of its maximum capacity.
Can Your Heart Rate Affect Your Weight and Burn Fat?
Yes! It most certainly can.
If your exercise goals include shedding pounds and burning fat, your heart rate can be a great tool for achieving your plans. As it turns out, during cardiovascular exercise, your body can enter a “fat burning zone.” During this time, your workout is more likely to target body fat, rather than build muscle. Generally, this happens when your heart rate is at 70% of your maximum heart rate.
Certain exercises are better than others for hitting this exact heart rate. Cycling, jogging, dancing, tennis, water aerobics, and power walking are all great ways to kick your body into the fat burning zone. Be sure to keep track of your heart rate to ensure that you’re not dipping below or over the 70% rate too often during these sessions.
If weight loss is your main fitness goal, you might also find it helpful to meet with a nutritionist. They will be able to help you chart out an appropriate diet to maintain your fat burning exercising.
Finding the Beat
Now that we’ve gone over the importance of keeping up to date with your heart rate, it’s time to make sure you actually know how to properly check your pulse. After all, this information is meaningless if you can’t find your heart rate.
- Step One: Determine What You’re Calculating
Are you figuring your resting heart rate? Calculating whether you’re hitting your target? Tracking which exercises get you into the fat burning zone? If it’s the former, remember to calculate your resting heart rate when you are in a truly physical neutral state, with no caffeine in your system and ideally following some sleep. If it’s the latter two, it’s ideal to calculate your heart rate immediately following a rep or session.
- Step Two: Get Into Position
You can find your pulse either on your wrist, or the side of your throat. For your wrist, place two fingers on the thumb-side of your wrist, right between the tendon and the bone. If you’re checking your pulse on your neck, put your middle and index fingers next to your windpipe.
- Step Three: Count it Out
Make sure you can feel your pulse. When you’re ready, set a timer for 15 seconds. Count the heartbeats that you feel during that time.
- Step Four: Do the Math
Don’t worry, this isn’t a complicated equation. Simply multiply your heartbeat count by four, and you’ve got your average heart rate.
Don’t Lose Track!
Though physically counting your pulse and heartbeat is an important skill to learn, the modern world has also gifted us with some pretty nifty ways of tracking our health. These days, everything from smartphones to wristwatches can count your steps, track your miles, and keep you in the loop about your heart activity. Though these devices aren’t always 100% accurate—if anything feels off, you should always go to a doctor—they are helpful tools for keeping up with your heart rates.
Apart from its fitness and long-term health purposes, being in touch with your heart rate is helpful for detecting more everyday ailments, like dehydration, an impending feverish bout of the flu, or mental stress.
Where Can I Get My Heart Pumping in Boise?
Your search is over—Jack City Fitness is your number one destination in Boise (and Idaho at large!) for all your fitness and nutrition needs. We have everything you need to get your heart rate into your target zone— and we have the staff to help you achieve this safely and at your ideal pace.
At Jack City, we don’t believe in the exclusive concept of memberships. Instead, we invite you to become a partner at our modern fitness center. This begins with a free fitness consultation, right here at our North Allumbaugh street gym. From there, you’ll have a clearer idea of all the options open to you at Jack City, as well as which programs our team thinks might benefit you the best. We are always working to ensure that our partners are getting the most out of our time together.
Indeed, a partnership with us allows you to immediately become a part of a family; here, you can work one-on-one with members of our staff, customize your experience around your own unique life, and meet new friends who share your passions and goals. We opened our fitness center with the goal of giving our locals the chance to reach their fitness goals on their own terms— whether that means making their own schedule at our 24-hour gym facilities, working out while traveling via our digital training sessions, or learning a new skill through one of our many movement classes. No matter how you choose to spend your time at Jack City Fitness, a partnership with us allows you to seamlessly merge your health and fitness with your daily routine. It can (and will!) even enhance it.
Let’s get your heart pounding! Call our team at Jack City Fitness today and find out how you can have the healthiest and happiest heart possible.