Step 1. Calculate your maximum heart rate.
Your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. For example, if you are 50 years old, your maximum heart rate is 220 – 50 = 170 beats per minute
Step 2. Find your target heart-rate zone.
- Level 1, low-intensity, the target hearth-rate zone is 50 to 60 percent of your maximum hearth rate. Multiply your maximum heart rate by .5 and .6 to find your low-intensity zone
Example: 50 years old woman will count her low intensity zone this way:
Maximum hearth rate 220 – 50 = 170 beats per minute
Low intensity, target heart rate zone 50 to 60 percent 170 X 0.5 = 85 beats per minute, and 170 X 0.6 = 102, her low intensity target heart rate zone will be 85-102 beats per minute.
- Level 2, mid-intensity, your target heart rate zone is 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. Multiply your maximum heart rate by .6 and .7 to find your mid-intensity zone
- Level 3, high-intensity zone, your target heart rate zone is 70 to 90 percent of your maximum. Multiply your maximum heart rate by .7 and .9 to find your high-intensity zone
You can determine intensity of your exercise from Perceived Exertion Scale, which is designed to estimate the intensity of exercise based on how you feel as you are working out. It correlates well with the target heart-rate zone formula.
On the Perceived Exertion Scale:
- low-intensity level corresponds to 5 or 6, so if you walk as your workout, it should feel somewhat difficult
- mid-intensity level corresponds to 6 or 7, walking should feel difficult, but not extremely so
- high-intensity walking, running or any other cardiovascular exercise corresponds to levels 7 to 9, so high intensity cardiovascular exercise should feel somewhere between difficult and extremely difficult
Perceived exertion scale
2. Extremely easy
4. First feelings of exertion
5. Somewhat difficult
6. A bit more difficult
8. Very difficult
9. Extremely difficult
10. Maximum exertion or “Can’t take it anymore”
Is another easy way to gauge exercise intensity. By talking aloud as you walk (or run, bike), you can get a general idea of how hard you are working out.
For low-intensity walking, you should be able to carry on a conversation with a walking partner. Later, as you move to walks of greater intensity and duration, you may be able to speak only in snatches, or ultimately be able to get out only a word or two when you are working your hardest.