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Do cardio on stair stepper. Heart monitor showed 180. Is it normal?

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Im a 43 year old male of Indian origin. Im abt 5'9" tall and weigh abt 170 pounds. I play squash abt 4 times a week and do the stair stepper 3 times a week. I also lift some weights for resistance training.

When I do my cardio on the stair stepper, I usually do it for 40 mins. Recently I got a heart monitor to try to monitor my hear rate during exercise. I have noticed that the XXXXXXX heart rate the monitor showed was abt 180.

My question is this:

The target heart rate has the following formula:

220-43 (my age) = 177

My target heart rate should be 60-80% of 177.

So the target heart rate range is between 106 and 142.

This does not make sense to me. Because when my HR is at the top end of the range at 142, I feel that I'm not exercising much. I don't burn much calories and have hardly broken a sweat. It also means that the intensity of exercise is very low.

Please advise what I should be doing.
Posted Mon, 17 Jun 2013 in Hypertension and Heart Disease
Answered by Dr. Jorge Brenes-Salazar 4 hours later

Thank you for sharing your health concerns.

Indeed for aerobic exercise that is your target HR.

However, it is well known now that instead of having a "flat" heart rate for 40 minutes, alternating the intensity of the workout every five minutes or so and then slowing back down to that baseline is the best way to burn calories; there have been a few studies in our lab; furthermore, this "sprint type" routine, with ups and downs, has been shown to improve adherence to exercise (less boredom) and have the most positive impact on High-density lipoprotein (HDL) and Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) chlolesterol levels.

So, you know now a "ball park" of where you should be at a minimum for aerobic, fatty acid metabolism by the heart, you can "speed up" at intervals. Imagine like the highways, that may have a minimum and a maximum speed limit. For maximum, I would not go further than your 100% predicted HR for age.

Hope that helps, wish you the best exercise and health, blessings,

Dr Brenes-Salazar MD
Mayo Clinic MN
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