Heart rate factors | NevadaAppeal.com

Heart rate factors

by Jerry Vance

If you exercise, you are probably aware of your heart rate during your workout. What you may not know is the outside factors that interact with your target rate.

Temperature, altitude, age, sex, weight, time of day, pregnancy, type of exercise (water or land), drugs, smoking, body structure, health problems and your resting heart rate all factor in.

Let me give you an example. A student, after several years of exercise, informed me that her heart rate that day was a bit high: 150 to 160 beats per minute. If the student had been 80 or 90 years old I would have run for a chair. However, for a young adult in good health, and used to working hard, that wouldn’t be so bad.

The next question to ask is, “What is your resting heart rate?” If it is 85 to 90 and you take it first thing in the morning, you may normally have a high heart rate.

Your resting heart rate will normally change during day time activities, so first thing in the morning will give you the most accurate reading. Your pulse can go up 10 points between lying down, sitting or standing, and it may increase with the intake of food or medication.

A new fitness student with a high pulse rate (not unusual with a beginning student) should be able to lower her working heart rate to 150 after three or four weeks of aerobic conditioning. This student I was working with had mitral valve prolapse and extremely low blood pressure, resulting in occasional dizzy spells. She had a constant high pulse rate; however, she wasn’t short of breath, feeling stressed or showing any signs of discomfort during class. I asked her to see her physician for a checkup before returning to exercise.

When she returned to class she was monitored. Any bending was done in slow motion and no sudden up and down movements. Exercise intensity was gradual and she took more time for cool down at the end of class. And finally a pulse check was taken 30 minutes following the exercise session to see if her pulse level returned to normal.

Everything you do during your day will effect your heart rate to some extent. Consider the factors involved for your body and take the time to check your heart rate during your workout and find your heart target zone and stay within that limit for safety.

• Jerry Vance is the owner of Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through the Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Carson City Senior Citizens Center.