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49084 Views 17 Replies Latest reply: Jun 5, 2009 7:38 PM by SO1SEALInstructor 1 2 Previous Next
Zack W Amateur 28 posts since
Dec 7, 2007
Currently Being Moderated

Jan 23, 2008 3:03 PM

Is it bad to exceed my target heart rate while working out?


I work out regularly and have just started paying attention to my target heart rate.  However, I often times exceed my target heart rate, but I feel great while I'm working out.  Is this ok to do?



  • LivinFit Amateur 11 posts since
    Jan 23, 2008

    If you have no current health conditions...why not?! Something you should definetly confirm with your doc if you worried about it...good luck!

  • culinarydoctor Expert 71 posts since
    Oct 31, 2007

    Max Heartrate = 220 - age

  • durtlover Rookie 1 posts since
    Dec 15, 2007


    I asked one of the cardiologists I work with that question and he said "no, it's not bad, but it's not any better. "  Dr. Cooper, also a cardiologist,



    of Cooper aerobics says as we continue to run and our hearts become more accommodating, it's normal to exceed the current heart



    rate formulas.   The heart is a muscle and responds to whatever we do as a muscle does.   You might want to check Cooper aerobics website



    for more on that thought.



  • carolynintoronto Rookie 1 posts since
    Mar 22, 2008


    220 - age does not always give you an entirely accurate heart rate - it's an estimate. Unless you have tested your maximum heart rate, you may not be exceeding your heart rate. And your precise maximum heart rate changes depending on the activity.



    For example, I'm in my thirties, and when I swim (generally lower heart rate) I can maintain a heart rate greater than 190 for many minutes. I'm not really exceeding my maximum heart rate - I can talk right away when I stop, and recover quickly. I'm not working harder than my lanemates with lower heart rates, either. 



    If you're still able to speak at this higher heart rate, you're probably within your training zone. If not, well, maybe you're pushing it too hard. But don't let the heart rate trick you - your range may differ from the average for your age.    



  • Megsbee Rookie 3 posts since
    Oct 30, 2007

    Here's a web site that gives coaching advice based on heart rate...  you might want to check it out.

  • Eco13 Expert 56 posts since
    Feb 18, 2008

    Hi Zack, Thank you for asking this question as I was wondering this myself.  My problem is that I have a chronic rapid heart beat (tachycardia) which is somewhat controlled with medicine.  Even so, my resting heart rate is about 90.  I've been exercising pretty vigorously since the end of October 2007 and I ALWAYS exceed my target heart rate while exercising.  In fact I very often exceed my "maximum" heart rate, which according to the common formula is 220 - 40 (my age) = 180.  I usually get up to about 183.  So far I haven't encountered any serious problems, although a couple of times I found it difficult to catch my breath and had to wait while the rest of the exercise group continued on.  Still, I would have thought that my resting heart rate would have gone down as I got into shape.

  • Eco13 Expert 56 posts since
    Feb 18, 2008


    I hope I didn't kill this thread...I was looking forward to more information from my fellow Active members.  ?:|









  • K64 Amateur 17 posts since
    Feb 7, 2008

    ECO  -  you're throwin' around some medical words and mentioning medication.  This raises some concerns for pushing your heart rate too high.  Allow me to offer a few medical thoughts on this.


    As others on this thread have pointed out, the "max heart rate" is just a guideline and everyone is different.  Going 183 instead of 180 is generally not an issue, nor is going 195 if that's what your body does and  you feel ok while doing it.


    When we talk about these rates, we're assuming a normal "sinus" rhythm (exercise induced sinus tachycardia to be precise).  The electrical impulse to trigger the heart beat starts in the top of the heart in the 'sinus node'.


    There are people who's hearts will start to add beats when things get reved up, beats that don't come from the 'sinus node'.  They going into a different cardiac rhythm (ventricular tachycardia or a re-entry tachycardia/PSVT or other scary rhythms) that can originate in a different part of the heart and leading to a short circuit type of thing.


    If you have a history of  an abnormal rhythm, you need to talk with your doctor before intense exercise.  If you are feeling like your heart jumps from a semi-normal to a super fast rate all of a sudden, or if you feel like you might pass out or feel bad in some other way, you need to slow down and then go see a cardiologist.




    DK, MD

  • Eco13 Expert 56 posts since
    Feb 18, 2008


    DK, thank you for your response and information.  I did see my doctor recently and did mention that I had been exercising regularly since Oct 2007, but honestly I don't recall if I mentioned the fact that a couple of times I had problems catching my breath.  Some time ago my doc recommended me to a cardiologist, who in turn recommended I go through a procedure similar to an angiogram in which a small wire is threaded through a vein in my leg to the heart, where a sensor could determine where the "miss-fire" is happening, and then they could cauterize that portion of the heart.  I was not at all thrilled about undergoing this procedure, and as it turned out my insurance denied it because it was considered "experimental."  I've since been told by another doctor that as long as the condition is controlled by the meds, I should be fine and not to worry about that procedure. 






    Since it looks like you're an MD, I can tell you that the name of the condition (please pardon my spelling) is paroxysmal atrial tachycardia.  I'm pretty good about communicating any problems with the exercise coaches, so I think I'll be OK.  The can't-catch-my-breath thing usually happens on foggy or wet days when there is a lot of moisture in the air.  Don't know if the moisture has anything to do with it, but maybe I'm not getting enough oxygen on those days?



  • K64 Amateur 17 posts since
    Feb 7, 2008

    Hi Eco (and others interested in this topic)


    Fascinating! Interesting stuff, isn't this??


    Allow me to provide definitions for this discussion:


    Dysrhythmia - a messed up rhythm (simple enough, just a fancy word)


    Paroxysmal Atrial Tachycardia  (PAT):

    Paroxysmal ("it just happens all of a sudden")

    Atrial ("top part of the heart" and the origin for this dysrhythmia)

    Tachycardia ("fast heart rate")


    The first step in diagnosing a dysrhythmia like this is to be hooked up to a heart monitor.

    Of course, your heart might not cooperate and show the problem while hooked up to a monitor, so people often have to wear a Holter monitor for 24+ hours. This is a recording device, similar to a polar heart rate monitor, but it actually records the rhythm, too, not just the rate. 


    I presume you've done this already.  Otherwise, you wouldn't have a specific diagnosis (PAT) and no one would have suggested to you to have the electro -physiology study (EP study).    The EP study is when they poke you in the femoral area and run the catheter up to your heart.  They can map out some of the conduction paths in your heart and, as you mentioned, sometimes cauterize the path that's triggering the dysrrhythmia.


    I am a board certified Emergency Physician, I am not a cardiologist or an electro physiologist (a subspecialty of cardiology), so I don't know at which point you should pursue the EP study or have a path cauterized.  I tend to agree with the idea that if the meds are controlling things and your cardiologist doesn't think it's dangerous, then hell... don't do it.  I would talk to a cardiologist or an electro physiologist about this stuff. 


    I strongly disagree with your insurance company for saying it's experimental.  It's not.  It's been done for years and is the standard treatment now for certain dysrhythmias.


    There can be more to the evaluation of a patient with a dysrhythmia.  Sometimes other things going on with the heart that lead to these dysrhythmias.  Sometimes people need an MRI of the heart to assess the heart tissue and check for changes in tissue. 


    And lastly, regarding the feeling you get when you can't catch your breath on foggy days, perhaps your heart is fine, but your lungs have a harder time in the moist environment?  Albuterol, a broncodilator could help there, but it could, and likely would, exacerbate the tachycardia.  Talk to your doctor.


    Clearly, much of this is beyond what can be covered here.  My goal is to simply offer a little clarification and the vocabulary so you and others can both research more on these issues and speak more with your doctors or cardiologists.


    Bottom line again:  Some weird heart rhythms are bad.  The heart rate, how you got there (heart rate jumped up all of a sudden?), and how you feel all need to be considered when deciding who should pursue further evaluation, but the heart rate a lone tells us little.  And for those who don't have a funny rhythm, exceeding the "max heart rate" is probably just fine (remember that original question??


    DK, MD

  • wawaski Amateur 20 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007


      Hi to all..a bit "off subject" here, but caught the shortness of breath thing and wanted to make everyone out there of what I ran into last year. A roadie that kept getting "spanked" by women older than I, so I took my bruised ego to the Doc. He did a pulse ox test a promptly sent me to a resp. specialist. After a zillion tests, said my ox levels were running between 86-96% with unk causes and sent me to a cardiac specialist. He did the other zillion tests and came to the same conclusion with no suggestion as to what it might be. Deep breath here. So, I got both my bloodwork tests and looked them over and saw that the B12 levels were extrmemely low, followed that info to some symptoms of same and there, lurking in the shadows was "shortness of breath". amopung other things. So you take the syptom, add the lack of diagnosis, and the low levels and march into your orig. Docs office who suggests 1ml of B12 a mo for 6 mos, and presto, problem solved.



       Seems you have to be your own "Doc" every once in a while....I was told the blood work was "fine", and after another look was told, "hmmm, B12 levels are extrememly low. Geeze. Anyway, keep  your eyes open to all options, some are pretty obscure! By the way, last pulse ox test was 100 %!



    Stuck in the middle of nowhere.....:p






    Go hard or stay in the yard...

  • Eco13 Expert 56 posts since
    Feb 18, 2008


    Wawaski, thanks for the info.  Very interesting!  I will certainly ask the question about B-12 the next time I see the doc.






    By the way - Zack (the original poster, hehe), sorry I sent this thread off on a tangent.  How have you been doing?  Still feeling good while exercising?



  • cpcutx Rookie 1 posts since
    Mar 13, 2009

    K64 and all:


    This was a great discussion.  K64...I handle medical malpractice claims (defending doctors and hospitals), and I can tell you that you are exactly the kind of physician witness we (and jurys) love.  You explanation was very well written, thoughtful, and easy for anyone to should consider being an expert witness.


    To add to these questions, one other factor in causing a high heart rate during exercise is your location.  When I lived in UT, my heart rate was always around 200-210+ when I ran, and I was able to run for 3+ hours.  When I moved to Dallas, TX, and took the fitness test for the police department, they put me on a treadmill.  Before doing so, they took my resting heart rate (48).  I was on the tread mill for 2 minutes @ 5 mph, hardly breathing, and definitely not sweating.  The elevated the treadmill to 3 degrees, and my heart rate immediate shot up to 200.  The nurses rushed me over to a bench and had me lay down (remember, I wasn't breathing any harder than I usually do while resting...and I had been running 40-50 mile/wk in UT).  Anyway, after 60 seconds, my heart rate was 82 and after 2 minutes it was 64.  They had me go to the in-house doctor who explained to me that heart rate is a function of oxygen deprivation.  Since I had been training vigorously at altitude, it is to be expected that I would a) have a much more rapid heart rate to compensate, and b) have an enlarged heart (something common with athletes).  He explained that if I had been left on the treadmill, that my body would have quickly realized that I wasn't ramping up (like at altitude), and my heart rate would have backed down on it's own...that's why I recovered so quickly.


    As for shortness of breath, I totally agree with the B12, but if that is not an issue, check your intake of caffine and also aspartaime (nutrasweet).  Caffine has many different effects.  For one, it is a diuretic and can cause dehydration, which adds stress to things like the heart and lungs, reducing their efficiency.  The aspartaime is very, very, very, very bad stuff.  The first few times I drank anything with it, I coughed and wheezed all day.  This is a known side effect of this drug...yes, drug.  Unlike things like Splenda and Nu Stevia (natural 0 carb sweeteners), this stuff is made in a lab.  Another real nasty thing that most of us consume unknowingly is corn syrup.  This substance (used as a sweetener and preservative) has the highest glycemic index response of any substance...much higher than sugar.  After getting on the Atkins diet years ago, I discovered I had a corn allergy.  When I cut out the corn and corn derivative products, my stress induced (from exercise) asthema, eczema, and frequent upset stomach issues all resolved.  Watch what you drink, and read the labels on EVERYTHING you buy.  The more "natural" foods you eat the better, and with veggies, steam them so they stay just a little crisp...we Americans always overcook everything.


    Oh, one more thing.  For you heart, eat oats at least 4 times per week (Cheerios or oatmeal), and eat onion and peppers after any heavier meal.  Onions have been proven to lower our heart rate significantly.


    Hope this helps.

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