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How much exercise you need depends on the intensity of your workouts. Beginners, intermediates and those in very good shape work out at different heart rates and for different duration. A moderate-intensity workout is similar to a brisk walk, causing you to breathe hard as you keep your heart rate elevated. There are a number of ways to stay in your target heart rate range during exercise.
Moderate vs. Vigorous
A moderate intensity cardio workout puts you at approximately 50 to 65 percent of your maximum heart rate. This might be comparable to speed walking or using a treadmill at approximately 4 mph, depending on your conditioning, or riding a bike on level terrain at 5 to 9 mph, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You'll breathe harder and might perspire, but you won't be panting and soaking wet when you're done exercising. You reach a vigorous level when you increase your speed to a jogging pace, or 65 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate.
Aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardio exercise each week, recommends the American Heart Association. Five 30-minute workouts weekly will help you improve your heart health and maintain your weight. If you can't exercise for 30 minutes at a time at this speed, start with two 15-minute workouts or three 10-minute workouts each day to help you build stamina and endurance.
Tracking Heart Rate
Use a personal heart rate monitor, one that comes with a cardio machine, or take your pulse during your workouts to keep yourself in your target heart rate range for exercise. If you're a male, subtract your age from 220 to get your maximum heart rate. Women should subtract 88 percent of their age from 206 to get a more accurate maximum heart rate, recommends Northwestern Medicine researchers, who studied the heart rates of 5,500 women and released their findings in 2010. (Their formula has not yet been adopted by the AMA or other medical institutions.) Multiply your maximum heart rate by 0.50 and 0.65 to get your target heart rate for moderate intensity exercise. If your maximum heart rate is 180, your target heart rate for exercise is 90 to 117 beats per minute.
Health and fitness professional use different formulas and definitions to describe exercise intensity. Some recommend вЂњfat-burningвЂќ cardio workouts starting as low as 50 percent of your maximum heart rate, while others recommend you work out at 70 percent to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. Don't use target heart rate formulas, treadmill speeds, stationary bike speedometers or electronic calories-burned displays to force you into a workout intensity. Try to find the maximum intensity you can sustain for the duration of your workout without stopping or injuring yourself. Talk while you are exercising. If you can't, reduce your speed. Keep track of your speed and heart rate during your workouts and try to raise your intensity every week or two as you build cardio strength and stamina.