Gaining an understanding of your exercise intensity requirements can speed up your progress. Also, exercising at an unhealthy intensity prevents you from endangering your health. A safe and effective workout is one in which you perform within your target heart rate zone.

The benefits of cardiovascular exercise depend on how often, how hard, and how long you exercise. You have a good idea of the frequency and duration of your workouts, but gauging the intensity requires knowing your heart rate.

This article discusses how the various heart rate zones might benefit your cardio exercises and how you can implement them into your routine.

Understanding target heart rate zone

To understand the heart rate zone, you must first know your heart rate. Also known as pulse rate, your heart rate is the amount of times your heart contracts and relaxes at a particular time. You may feel your heart or pulse rate by pressing on the vein that runs through the middle of your wrist or by feeling your neck.

The rate at which your heart beats fluctuates in response to your physical activity. It shifts when you get moving and feel excited or anxious.

There are different types of heart rates, including:

Resting heart rate: This is the number of times your heart beats in a minute while you’re not actively doing anything. If you’re not doing anything physically taxing, your heart rate will naturally drop to its lowest average level.

The most accurate reading will be obtained while the subject is at rest (lying down or sitting), with no external factors like stress or illness affecting the reading. According to the American Heart Association, an adult’s resting heart rate should be anywhere from 60 -100 bpm.

This rate is best evaluated at rest when neither physical exertion nor mental stress is likely to affect your heart.

Maximum heart rate: This is the highest possible pace at which your heart beats. To get it, you only need to subtract your age from 220. Of course, this is only a hypothesis, and your MHR may differ.

Target heart rate: When you exercise, you should aim to get your heart rate up to your target heart rate. It’s a helpful visual cue for showing how hard you’re training. Your estimated goal heart rate is merely a prediction, but it might help you gauge the intensity of your workouts.

So, what is the heart rate zone?

Maximum heart rate zones are defined as a range of your maximum heartbeats per minute. It may also refer to the intensity levels at which you should be exercising. The demands on one’s heart rise in proportion to one’s speed, cadence, and intensity of effort.

If you push yourself to the point where your heart rate (HR) is almost at its maximum, you will put unnecessary strain on your cardiovascular system.

The point of heart rate zones isn’t just to help you maximize efficiency but also to increase your cardiorespiratory fitness through progressive overload.

Finding Your Ideal Heart Rate

Your MHR is estimated with a straightforward method based on your age.

Image alt text: heart rate zone. A medical assistant checking heart rate of an athlete.

Author credit: By Lilianfeliz – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Maximum heart rate = 206.9 – (0.67 x your age)

To determine or track the optimal heart rate for exercise, several fitness and wearable trackers and smartwatches may be used to assess your resting heart rate automatically.

The manufacturer can update these devices to reflect the most up-to-date research-backed heart rate zones, which is a significant benefit when trying to reach your fitness goals.

You can also determine your heart rate by checking through the heart rate chart.

Heart rate chart

A heart rate chart provides estimates of maximum heart rate zones with various ranges of beats relating to specific ages. The zones range from:

  • Low intensity  
  • Moderate Intensity
  • Aerobic Zone
  • Vigorous Intensity
  • Maximum Intensity.

You only need to enter your age against the chart to get your exact heart rate.

<h2>Guidelines for Using Target Heart Rate Zones<h2>

Guidelines for Using Target Heart Rate Zones

You can vary the intensity of your workouts by working out in different heart rate zones, doing less cardio on certain days and heavier cardio on others. Working out in various cardiac rate (HR) zones have varied fitness benefits. You’ll experience varying degrees of difficulty in each zone.

Low-Intensity Training Zone

The intensity level in this region is really low. Also, exercise at this level is adequate for stress reduction and counteracting the adverse health effects of inactivity.

Low-intensity exercise is excellent for your heart and mental health since it raises endorphins and decreases blood pressure and heart rate.

As you ease back into exercise after a more strenuous session, this zone of activity might help you recuperate. Low-intensity forms of strength and flexibility training are also common and beneficial for improving and maintaining muscular and general health.

Choose an activity, like walking or cycling, that gives you complete command over your heart rate, and train at this intensity. You may also do some light yoga or daily walking to improve your heart functions.

Moderate-Intensity Zone

This exercise training zone is often recommended, especially for the purposes of increasing endurance and burning calories to maintain a healthy weight.

Also, improved heart and muscle circulation is a major benefit of exercising in the moderate heart rate zone. To put it simply, this is where your bloodstream begins to accumulate that irritating lactic acid.

To achieve this training, you should exercise for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, for 150 minutes a week. Some activities falling under this zone include jogging, swimming, strength training, and cycling or brisk walking.

Vigorous-Intensity Zone

Being in this area motivates your body to enhance its circulation by establishing fresh blood vessels and boosting its cardiac and respiratory output. When you train at the upper end of this zone (84% MHR or higher), you increase your maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 max).

At this intensity, your body will start to manufacture lactic acid as a sign that you’ve reached your limit. Faster times can be achieved in this range, which is why athletes like runners, bikers, and race walkers train in it.

Vigorous exercising may also help:

Enhances brain health: Intense physical activity, but any exercise increases cerebral blood flow and oxygen delivery to the prefrontal cortex. Both younger and older populations have demonstrated this to be accurate; pupils who engaged in strenuous exercise saw improvements in their academic performance.

Protect Against Long-Term Illness: Reduced physical activity is associated with an increased risk of acquiring chronic diseases like osteoporosis and heart disease, and managing weight to reduce the risk of developing forms of cancer.

Maximum-Intensity Zone

Maximum-intensity exercise, such as sprinting or high-intensity interval training, involves exerting oneself to one’s physical and mental limits. You have exhausted all possible means of improvement. For most folks, a few minutes in this sweet spot is all they can handle, and some can’t even utter words when exercising vigorously.

Having a fast heart rate while exercising might be dangerous, so it’s best to check with your doctor beforehand. Besides, only use the maximum-intensity zone for brief bursts for your interval workout, in which you work hard for a minute before slowing down for many minutes.

The cardiovascular system and the body’s ability to eliminate lactic acid can benefit significantly from high-intensity exercise. Enhancements made here may trickle down to the other exercise intensity zones.


There are advantages to working in various heart rate zones. Each is an excellent tool for bolstering cardiovascular health, enhancing endurance, promoting weight balance, warding off disease, and lifting spirits. Including exercises from all zones will help increase the fun factor of your workouts.

Discuss with your physician about your current cardiovascular fitness and any restrictions you might have before beginning a new fitness plan.