Target Heart Rate

To help create a strong, healthy heart and lungs, it’s necessary to do physical activity at the right level of effort (exercise intensity). The recommended range of exercise intensity for improving health-related physical fitness is called your target heart rate (also known as THR and training heart rate). Your THR is 55 to 90% of your maximum heart rate (the highest number of times your heart can beat in one minute).

Measuring Your Target Heart Rate

There are several ways to measure your heart rate:

  • Resting heart rate (HRrest) - Your heart rate when you’re not doing any activity.
  • Maximum heart rate (HRmax) - The highest number of times your heart can beat in one minute.
  • Target heart rate (THR / training heart rate) - The rate your heart should beat during exercise in order to get the most improvement in aerobic capacity (the amount of oxygen your body uses). This is usually expressed as a range.

Your target heart rate is a percentage of your maximum heart rate. So to calculate your target heart rate, you have to first find out what your maximum heart rate is.

To calculate your maximum heart rate, use the following equation:

  • HRmax = 208 – (0.7 x your age (years))

This formula has proven to be accurate regardless of gender or current physical activity levels.

To calculate your target heart rate, use the following equations:

  • During light intensity activity - Target heart rate is between 45% and 54% of your HRmax
  • During moderate intensity activity - Target heart rate is between 55% and 69% of your HRmax
  • During high intensity activity - Target heart rate is between 70% and 89% of your HRmax

Example Target Heart Rate

For example, if you’re a 60 year old woman, your target heart rate should be between 75 and 90 beats per minute during a light intensity activity. This was calculated in the following way:

  • 208 – (0.7 x 60 years) = 166 (this is your maximum heart rate)
  • 45% X 166 = 75 (this is the low end of your training heart rate range)
  • 54% X 166 = 90 (this is the high end of your training heart rate range)

For More Information

Warburton, D., Whitney Nicol, C., & Bredin, S. (2006). Prescribing exercise as preventive therapy. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 174(7), 961-974.

Tanaka, H., Monahan, K. D., & Seals, D. R. (2001). Age-predicted maximal heart rate revisited. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 37(1), 153-156.

Last Reviewed: March 2017


©2017 Province of British Columbia. All rights reserved. May be reproduced in its entirety provided the source is acknowledged. This information is not meant to replace advice from your medical doctor or individual counselling with a health professional. It is intended for educational and informational purposes only.

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