Aerobic Exercise: Intensity Guidelines
In order to calculate your TTZ, you need to determine the Exercise intensity level that is right for you. Many exercise physiologists recommend the following guidelines:
Keep in mind that these recommendations are aimed at the general population. In other words, they may not be right for you. Some people cannot raise their pulse, despite vigorous exercise, into their target-training zone. If you are one of these individuals, you probably have a maximum heart rate that is lower than average and so should disregard the target training zones shown here. Rather you should try to establish and be guided by a lower, more comfortable, more personal, exercising pulse range.
- Low Exercise-Intensity Level: This intensity level should be used by anyone over 50 years old, and by those starting a physical fitness program after many years of inactivity regardless of their age. People in this classification should begin exercising at 40 to 50% of their TTZ.
- Moderate Exercise-Intensity Level: This applies to moderately active people who are under 50 years old and who, for example, have been walking two or three miles per day regularly. These men and women may begin exercising at 50 to 65% of their TTZ.
- High Exercise-Intensity Level: This level applies to very active, well-trained, fit people under 50 years old. These individuals may exercise at 65 to 80% of their TTZ.
In addition, be aware that some blood pressure medications (such as beta-blockers) may lower your maximum heart rate and resting pulse. If you are taking blood pressure medication, consult your cardiologist for guidance before using the target training zone approach.
If you do use the target-training zone approach, your pulse becomes your exercise guide. In addition, after a couple of months of aerobic exercise a sure indication that you are rounding into shape, making progress, is that your resting pulse slows down somewhat - especially if it was relatively fast at the start. This is because well-conditioned strengthened hearts are more efficient and so beat more slowly at rest. Trained athletes often have a resting pulse of 50 beats per minute or lower, whereas the "average" pulse is 72 to 76 for untrained men and 75 to 80 for untrained women. Furthermore, understand that as you become more physically fit you will have to exercise more vigorously to get your exercising pulse rate into your target-training zone.
Target-Training Zone Example
Example 4.2: Determine the target-training zone (TTZ) for a 40-year old relatively inactive man with a resting pulse of 70, whose physician has approved his aerobic exercise program.
Because he is relatively inactive but also relatively young, following the exercise-intensity level guidelines outlined earlier, he determines that he may start his exercise program at about 50 percent of his maximum heart rate reserve. He determines his (TTZ) as follows:
Maximum heart rate = 220 - Age in years = 220 - 40 = 180 beats per minute
Maximum heart rate reserve = Maximum heart rate - Resting pulse = 180 - 70 = 110
TTZ = (Maximum heart rate reserve multiplied by Exercise intensity level) + Resting pulse
TTZ = (110 x 0.50) + 70 = 125 beats per minute
(Note, the exercise-intensity level in example 4.2 was converted from 50% to the decimal equivalent 0.50.)