8 Ways to Raise Your Heart Rate

Maintaining a regular exercise program is not only good for increasing physical fitness by building muscle strength and endurance, it's also imperative for good cardiovascular fitness.

The ability of your heart and respiratory system to deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues and to remove wastes over sustained periods of time allows your heart to function more efficiently.

In order to improve cardiovascular fitness over time, you'll need to determine your target heart rate—the rate that is best suited to increase your cardiovascular fitness.

The target range is from 50 percent to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. How you calculate your maximum heart rate is different depending on whether you're a man or a woman.

  • For men, the maximum heart rate is 220 minus age.
  • For women, the maximum heart rate is 206 minus 88 percent of age.

Once you've calculated your target heart rate, use the information as a guide to your physical fitness routine and choose the activity that gives you the greatest cardiovascular fitness improvement.

If you're over 35 and haven't been physically active for several years, talk with your doctor before starting a cardiovascular workout routine. Also consult with your physician if:

  • You have a heart condition
  • You experience pains or pressure in your left or mid-chest area, left neck, shoulder, or arm during or right after exercise
  • You've developed chest pain or discomfort within the last month
  • You feel extremely breathless after mild exertion
  • Your doctor said that you have bone, joint, or muscle problems that could worsen with a physical activity routine

To achieve cardiovascular fitness aim for at least three 20-minute bouts of continuous aerobic, rhythmic exercise each week, including options from these eight activities:

  1. Brisk walking
  2. Jogging
  3. Swimming
  4. Cycling
  5. Rope jumping
  6. Rowing
  7. Cross-country skiing
  8. Continuous action games such as racquetball and handball

To track your cardiovascular fitness progress, wear a heart-rate monitor. A heart-rate monitor uses electronic sensors to measure your heart rate as you exercise and displays the number of beats per minute on a device similar to an ordinary watch.