Posted by: fitifanatic | 2009/07/16

target heart rate

I am a 48 old woman, go to gym 3 times a week, been doing it for years. I do 20 min on the stat bike at 140-145 heart rate, then 20 min on elliptical trainer at 140-145 as well. Am I overdoing it? Overtaxing my heart?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageFitnessDoc

Hi there

No, don't worry. Heart rate can be so misleading, because these companies have sold the 'myth' that we're all the same.

When you train for general fitness and weight loss, it is best to train at an intensity that corresponds to between 70 and 90% of this maximum heart rate. This range is so wide because people are so different and that's why what works for one person does not necessarily work for another. I get quite irritated by what is often written about heart rate training, because you will read that you have to keep your heart rate in a certain range otherwise you don't get the right benefits, or it's dangerous etc. This is just not true. I have come across very good athletes, who, if they tried to obey this rule, would be walking just to make sure their heart rate did not get too high. You can't tell people like that that they must slow down because they are not getting fitter. Similarly, I know people who have a naturally low heart rate, and for them to get their HR up to the 'ideal' range, they just about have to sprint until they collapse from exhaustion two minutes later. So the bottom line is that the actual value of your heart rate is not that important, it's ranges that you can use, but don't get too hung on the number. What you need to do instead is use your own heart rate from one day to the next to help you understand how your training is developing.

In terms of overtraining, that's impossible to say. Certainly a heart rate of 145 is not overdoing it. It's typical of exercise, and if you can do that session feeling OK, then you're fine. Things like chest pain, or arm pain, or injuries, would tell you if you were overdoing it, but not a heart rate of 145, so you have nothing to worry about on that basis.

Good luck

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