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Staying active every day is a great way to protect your heart and keep it healthy for the long run. And many people choose running as their regular activity of choice. Whether you’re an avid runner or just getting started, it’s important to know your target running heart rate, how to determine it and what to do if it’s too high.
How Does Running Impact Your Heart?
Muscles get stronger with exercise. Your heart is a muscle, so the same rule applies. Just like your other muscles, your heart needs time to recover. It’s recommended to alternate vigorous runs with easier workouts in order for your heart to grow stronger. Resting in between is very important to your heart’s long-term health.
Your ideal heart rate while running is different for each person. That’s because it may be influenced by:
- Fitness level (runners tend to have a lower resting heart rate than less active people)
- Heat and humidity (may raise heart rate)
- Medications (may slow heart rate or raise it depending on the type of medication
- Stress (may slow or quicken your rate)
Most runners between ages 20 to 45 will want to stay between 100 and 160 beats per minute (bpm), on average. But that average depends on a number of factors, including your maximum heart rate and current fitness level. You can use the formula below to determine your target heart rate range.
How Do You Determine Your Running Heart Rate?
To determine your ideal running heart rate, first you’ll need to calculate your maximum heart rate. To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. For example, if you’re 40 years old, your maximum heart rate would be 180. Your maximum heart rate may vary 15 to 20 beats per minute in either direction.
The American Heart Association recommends exercising with a target heart rate of your maximum heart rate of 50 to 75% for beginners, and for moderately intense exercise. You can work at 70 to 85% of your maximum heart rate during vigorous activity.
What If Your Running Heart Rate is Too High?
Going higher than your maximum heart rate for long time periods can be dangerous for your heart and your overall health. That’s especially true if you’re new to exercise. Be sure to talk to your health care provider before you begin any new exercise program and include any concerns you may have.
A study of recreational hockey players found that those who continuously exceeded their target and maximum heart rates while playing had poor recovery rates after activity. They also increased their risk for cardiac events such as:
- Chest pain
Aim for a more comfortable pace if you’re consistently reaching your maximum heart rate while running. Stop right away if you feel lightheaded, dizzy or sick. Your safety is the number one priority.
Care From the Heart
At AdventHealth Heart and Vascular Institute, we don’t miss a beat when it comes to compassionate, conscientious care for your heart. We’re actively developing new ways to diagnose, treat and heal the most common — and uncommon — heart conditions. Visit AdventHealthKC.com to learn more about our dedication to your cardiovascular care. To schedule a HEARTaware screening, call 913-676-2505 or visit AdventHealthKC.com/HEARTaware.