Target Heart Rate


I have one question... did Mother Nature get the memo?  You know the memo that spring actually started one week ago!  I got in my car this morning and the temperature was 29 degrees!!!

Enough about the weather…last time we had talked about the importance of walking and how to know if you are walking fast or strenuously enough.  I had mentioned something I called the "cell phone test" which was basically that if someone called you on your cell phone while you were walking you would need to stop to have a regular conversation.  By the way I didn't mean to imply that you walk so fast that you can't talk at all, just not carry on a normal conversation.

I had also mentioned that we can be a little more precise (or scientific) about this and calculate something called your target heart rate.  I will explain what that is today (it's actually pretty straightforward), but first I feel like I need to put in a legal disclaimer.  If you are going to engage in a vigorous exercise program you should get clearance from your doctor first, and obviously if you ever experience chest pain or exhaustion while exercising STOP immediately.   With that bit of housekeeping out of the way,  how do we calculate our target heart rate?

I should say there are different formula's for calculating the target heart rate and if you are really interested you can Google the term or look it up on Wikepedia and get all the different formula's.  I am going to give you the simplest one, it is:  220-(your age)x0.8 is the upper limit and 220-(your age)x0.6 is the lower limit.

You want your heart rate while exercising to be between these two numbers.  So let's assume you are 40 years old the lower limit would be 220-40=180, then multiply 180×0.6 = 108…this means you should get your heart rate up to at least 108.  The upper limit would be 220-40=180×0.8=144.  So in order to get real benefit from your exercise you want your heart rate to be at least 108 and no more than 144, if you are 40 years old.  You should try to maintain that target rate for at least 30 minutes, 3 times per week.  The reason for this is because the heart is a muscle and the way to make a muscle stronger is to work it out…doesn't really matter whether the muscle is your heart or your biceps.

Many exercise machines have devices which will calculate your pulse for you, but in case you have to check you own pulse, the easiest way is to take two fingers (usually the index and middle fingers) and press them against the side of your trachea (windpipe).  Press very lightly and there you will feel your carotid pulse, count the number of beats in one minute (or beats in 15 seconds and multiply by 4)..this is your heart rate.  Now compare your heart rate with the number you calculated for your target, your heart rate should be between the two numbers.

Informational Seminar

This Wednesday we will be having an informational seminar at the Millburn office   (lead by yours truly) starting at 6:30 p.m.  As always the seminar is free and open to anyone who would like to find out about more about bariatric surgery.  If you know someone who would like to attend please have them call the office to reserve a spot or email us at:

Ocean County Support Group

For all our Ocean County patients there is a monthly support group which meets at Community Hospital (Auditorium A) the first Friday of the month from 7-9 PM.  That will be this Friday (April 1st) and it is free and open to anyone.

Regular readers know I sometimes end with a quote, but today I thought I would end with a little surgical joke:

A man is recovering from surgery when the surgical nurse appears and asks him how he is feeling.

"I'm O.K. But I didn't like the four letter-words the doctor used in surgery," he answered.

"What did he say?" asks the nurse.


Thanks for reading and trusting Garden State Bariatrics with your healthcare.

Michael Bilof



Contact Information

web site address:
phone: (973) 218-1990

You may also like

April 2008 - 60 minutes..YEY!!!

Well, I hope everyone got to watch the 60 minutes story on gastric bypass, but if you didn’t here is the link to the online video.