|By Jill Armayor for DRS Health
Exercise is done for many reasons, like overall health, disease prevention, performance and weight management. You may exercise in hopes to burn some body fat in effort to improve your body composition. Your heart rate is a great predictor of the ratio of fat that you are burning during your cardiovascular exercise. With this guide, you can learn how to stay within your fat burning zone, as you exercise, simply by monitoring your heart rate.
To find your fat burning zone, you first need to calculate your maximum heart rate. This is done by subtracting your age from 220. For example, if you are 45 years old, you would calculate 220-45=175. Your maximum heart rate is a prediction of how many beats per minute would occur if you were exercising at 100% effort.
To determine your fat burning zone, go to an online heart rate calculator. A great one can be found at www.changingshape.com . By plugging in your resting heart rate, your age and your gender, you will be able to see a number of heart rate ranges. If you are a beginner, you will want to stay between 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. If you are already fit, you can exercise at up to 80% of your maximum heart rate for fat burning potential.
If you are working out in a health club, you may have the ability to monitor your heart rate by placing your hands on the heart rate sensors of the piece of cardiovascular equipment you are using. You can also use a personal heart rate monitor. Both of these calculate beats per minute. You can also calculate your heart rate by hand. The easiest place to feel your heart beat is in the neck. Using your index and middle finger, press just to the side of your Adam’s apple. Once you feel your heart beat, count the beats for a full minute or for 30 seconds and multiply by 2.
Some medications, including beta blockers, keep your heart rate low during exercise, and therefore another method of measurement should be used. Rate of perceived exertion is a scale between 1 and 10 to subjectively rate your work level, with 1 being at rest and 10 being 100% effort. Staying around a 6 or a 7 will aid in your fat burning potential. If you have not exercised before, are on medication, or suffer from a chronic condition, check with your doctor before beginning any type of fitness program.