It is important to make sure you are working out at a safe level. Here are a couple of methods you can use to help you determine how hard you are working aerobically.
Target Heart Rate
Target heart rate (THR) is the zone or range that your heart rate should fall between to ensure that you are working aerobically. Exercising below your target zone may not be intense enough to improve your cardiovascular fitness; while training above your zone may be too intense, especially for beginners.
Light intensity: Feels easy, 40-50% of maximum heart rate
Moderate intensity: Feels somewhat hard, 50-70% of maximum heart rate
Vigorous intensity: Feels challenging, 70-85% of maximum heart rate
Ask your doctors what your exercise intensity should be before, during and after your cancer treatments. To determine your estimated maximum heart rate you simply subtract your age from 220. For example, a 45 year old woman’s target heart range for a moderate intensity workout would be between 88-123 beats per minute (bpm).
220-45(age) = 175 estimated maximal heart rate
175 x .50 = 88 bpm
175 x .70 = 123 bpm
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Tips for measuring your pulse
One way you can measure your heart rate while exercising is by feeling for your pulse (palpating). The most common places to measure heart rate using the palpation method are at the wrist (radial artery) and the neck (carotid artery).
Another great way to measure your pulse is by using a heart rate monitor. They take all the guess work out of knowing how hard you are working and are available at many sporting stores.
Rate of Perceived Exertion
The Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) method is a simple way to measure intensity, because all you have to do is estimate how hard you feel like you’re exerting yourself during exercise. The scale ranges from 1 to 10, allowing you to rate how you feel physically and mentally at a given intensity level.
The talk test is another subjective way of determining your exercise intensity, especially if you are a beginner. The goal is to work at a level where you can answer a question, but not comfortably carry on a conversation. Basically, you’re working out too hard if you have to take a breath between every word you say and you’re not working hard enough if you could sing a full song.