Is Your Heart Beating at the Right Speed?

Lots of people these days are wearing Fitbits or Apple watches or other devices that help tell them a lot about their physical activity during the day, steps and even heart rate. Chrys Peterson talked with Kamala Tamirisa, MD, FACC, FHRS, ProMedica Physicians Cardiology, to learn more about our heart rate and what it should actually be.

Chrys Peterson: So when we’re just looking at that device in the day, what should our resting heart rate be?

Dr. Tamirisa: A resting heart rate is usually between 60 and 100. That does not mean that if someone has a heart rate of 40 that’s abnormal, because if you look at athletes and swimmers their baseline or resting heart rate is around 40 so that’s OK. But normal rate is between 60 and 100 for someone who’s resting. If someone’s wearing a Fitbit, usually 10,000 steps per day, usually you burn about 2,500 to 3,000 calories with that.

When you’re talking about heart rate, though, what is a good exercise heart rate?

So the maximum heart rate for a given person, which is age-predicted, is 220 minus your age. So that’s the number to remember. That’s the maximum age-predicted heart rate. How much can you achieve or should you aim to achieve with your exercise depends on two factors. One is a moderate exercise, you should aim for about 50-75% of that maximum age-predicted heart rate. If you’re doing a vigorous exercise, then usually it’s about 70-85% of that maximum age-predicted heart rate.

How does raising your heart rate help you? How does that make you more physically fit? 

By several mechanisms. One is, of course, by raising the heart beat you’re going to burn calories, which means it’ll help with weight loss. It keeps the heart toned and nicely regulated. The second thing is it reduces the stress, so it has a positive affect on the heart again.

A lot of people do exercise and try to raise their heart rate to lose weight. How does that work and how much of a sustainability do you have to have at that high heart rate to actually see some pounds come off?

Basically, again, it all depends on the overall health of a patient, and their joint health, for example, and other health issues. But consider that everything is healthy or normal, for a given patient, usually we do recommend about 30 minutes of walking or moderate activity five days a week. So that’s about 150 minutes per week. But if someone is very healthy and their joints cooperate and they want to run on a treadmill and do vigorous exercise, then usually it’s about 25 minutes per day about three times per week, so that’s about 75 minutes per week.

As always, your particular heart rate is going to depend on whatever health issues that you are having, so you need to talk with your family doctor about that.

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