February is heart month and I want to talk a little about taking care of your heart.

By now we all know I’m talking about daily aerobic exercise; and the U.S. Government, The American College of Sports Medicine and The American Heart Association all have similar guidelines.

They say at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a day in your Target Heart Rate Zone; walking, running, biking, swimming, cardio dance.

But what does aerobic really mean? – And how do I tell moderate from too much or not enough? – And where IS my Target Heart Rate Zone anyhow?

Aerobic exercise is any exercise that increases your body’s need for oxygen over a sustained period of at least 20 minutes.

In practice, this means ease your heart rate up, over a 5 to 10 minute warm-up, (into your Target Heart Rate Zone) and keep it up for 20 minutes or more and then ease it back down again over a 5 to 10 minute cool-down period.

But how do I know I’m in my Target Heart Rate Zone?

Well, there’s the quick way, and the real way.

The quick way is to exercise just hard enough to be barely able to carry on a conversation while you work out. It’s easy and it works okay.

But, wouldn’t you like to know once and for all how to find YOUR actual Target Heart Rate Zone?

Good, because I’m going to show you how right now.

It’s not rocket science, but it is science, and it’s a simple formula.

It works according to age.

Start with the number 220.

220 BPM (Beats per Minute) is approximately your heart rate at birth

Then you subtract your age from 220. Let’s say you’re 50.

220, minus 50, equals 170.

170 BPM – That’s the MAX heart rate for a healthy person age 50.

But you should NOT be exercising at your MAX. That could be dangerous.

Instead, you should exercise between 50% and 85% of MAX for your age – That’s YOUR Target Heart Rate Zone

So if you’re a healthy 50-year old and your MAX heart rate is170, your target heart rate zone looks like this:

170 X 50% = 85 BPM

170 X 85% = 144 BPM

The Target Heart Rate Zone of a healthy 50 year old should range between 85 and 144 Beats per Minute.

You should exercise comfortably with your Target Heart Rate Zone.

Once you work out your Target Heart Rate Zone, it’s easy to know if you’re exercising within it.

One quick way is to take your pulse for 6 seconds and multiply that number by 10.

That’s how many Beats per Minute your heart is beating. Compare that to the range of your Target Heart Rate Zone and you’ll know if you’re over, under or in the right place.

The 21st century approach is to exercise with a heart rate monitor.

A good basic one costs about $50.

You’ll have the high tech assurance you’re in exercising in YOUR Target Heart Rate Zone. It will help make your workouts safer, more effective and efficient.

You’ll learn what it feels like when you’re in and when you’re out; and its fun to know you’re in control.

About the Author:

Mirabai Holland M.F.A. is one of the leading authorities in the Health & Fitness industry, and public health activist who specializing in preventive and rehabilitative exercise for people. Her Moving Free® approach to exercise is designed to provide a movement experience so pleasant it doesn’t feel like work. www.movingfree.com.