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Health Minute: Heart Rate

Exercising at the right intensity helps you get the most out of your workout and strengthens the heart.
CNN -- Exercising at the right intensity helps you get the most out of your workout and strengthens the heart. 

"The heart is like any other muscle in the body- you want to work on strengthening it. So by doing exercise you work on making the heart more efficient pumping blood to the muscles," says personal trainer Mike Simmons.

Monitoring your heart rate lets you know if you're working too hard or not hard enough. 

Measuring your progress starts by calculating your maximum heart rate, which is about the highest number of beats the heart can sustain during one minute of exercise.

"Which is easily calculated as 220 minus your age," says Dr. Andrew Wickliffe.

So if you're 40 years old your maximum heart rate is about 180 beats per minute.  But you shouldn't often push your heart to that extreme.  Instead, experts say, exercise within 60 to 80% of your maximum heart rate.

For a 40 year old this means getting your heart pumping between 108 and 144 beats per minute.  Using a heart rate monitor can help you keep track, or you can learn to tell by how you feel. 

You don't want to be completely out of breath, but it should be difficult to sing.
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