How do I calculate my target heart rate?

When starting an exercise program, it is important to know what your target heart rate should be to gain the maximum benefit of exercise, yet avoid damage to your heart. Do you know how to calculate your target heart rate?

The heart rate response to exercise can be calculated by subracting your age from the number 220. This would be 100% of your maximum heart rate or your "never to exceed" heart rate. For example, if you are 53 years old, your "never to exceed" heart rate would be 167 beats per minute. For cardiovascular conditioning and regular aerobic exercise, the exercise heart rate should be 80% of the maximum heart rate, or 134 beats per minute for a 53 year old. This heart rate would provide for improved cardiovascular fitness without increasing the risk of a significant arrhythmia.