Health & Fitness

Determining your optimal heart rate can improve your fitness performance

AT SOUTH MIAMI HOSPITAL: Dr. Theodore Feldman  and cardio tech Josie Mujica demonstrate a stress test.
AT SOUTH MIAMI HOSPITAL: Dr. Theodore Feldman and cardio tech Josie Mujica demonstrate a stress test. FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

To reap the most benefits from a workout, gauging your target heart rate is critical.

Heart rates reflect exercise intensity, and determining your optimal heart rate can provide an objective look at your fitness performance.

To do this, first calculate your maximum heart rate. The simplest method is to subtract your age from 220. Your target heart rate then falls between 60 to 90 percent of this number.

Exercise prescriptions become lower as people age and become less capable of rigorous activity.

But this number should be regarded as a guide.

“It is just a generalization and there are going to be variable differences,” said Tony Musto, director of fitness programs at the UHealth Fitness and Wellness Center. “If you calculate the 60 percent, which would be the lower edge, and you’re breathing really heavy and it’s really difficult, you know it’s not accurate for you.”

Musto says being cognitive of the recommended intensity range can help prevent fatigue and injury.

Some experts have suggested recently that excess intense exercise regimens can have adverse effects on mortality, but a new study has indicated for the majority of people, this is not the case.

Dr. Theodore Feldman, medical director, Miami Cardiac and Vascular Institute at South Miami Hospital and medical director, Center for Prevention and Wellness, Baptist Health South Florida, says this misinformation discourages people from engaging in regular rigorous exercise. He disproved the findings in a paper he co-authored in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology this month.

“The ultra-marathoners have been associated with a U-shape curve where there is the benefit of reduction in mortality up to a certain levelbut too much exercise can be bad for you,” Feldman said. “This is not the case.”

Feldman’s study looked at 37,895 individuals with a mean age of 49.6 and who exercised at different fitness levels. Participants logged their exercise over an extended period of time. The results indicated that there is no change in mortality rates, even when it came to the fittest of them.

“There appears to be no upper limit of fitness associated with mortality,” Feldman said.

He says the findings should relieve people of any reservations they have concerning exercising regularly.

“People should not be intimidated to exercise vigorously as long as they pay attention to their rate and hydration,” Feldman said.

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