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Does going beyond my target heart rate increase my weight loss?

Yes. Going beyond your target heart rate can help to increase the amount of calories which are being burned during that activity. Weight loss comes from burning more calories than are being consumed. It is important to track the amount of calories you are consuming in order to perform the necessary cardio activity to ensure weight loss.

For cardio activity, health and fitness professionals typically divide the target heart rate into three zones. Each of these zones is a percentage of estimated maximum heart rate, often referred to as max HR. To find max HR, subtract your age from 220. For example, if you are 35 years old, your max HR rate is 185 beats per minute (220-35=185). To be in the first zone of cardiorespiratory training, referred to as zone 1, you would need to exercise at an intensity which will sustain your heart rate at 65%-75% of your max HR. In the case of the 35 year old, the target range for zone 1 is from 120 beats per minute to 139 beats per minute. In zone 2, you would need to exercise at an intensity which will sustain your heart rate at 80%-85% of your max HR. Continuing the example of a 35 year old, the target heart rate range for zone 2 is 148 beats per minute to 157 beats per minute. Zone 3 of the cardiorespiratory training continuum is typically reserved for athletes or someone who has been training for some time, and is between 86%-90% of max HR. For the 35 year old, zone 3 ranges from 159 beats per minute to 167 beats per minute.

What do these cardio training zones have to do with weight loss? As the heart rate increases, the body burns more calories. Using this information, we can see that performing thirty minutes of cardio in zone 2, with a heart rate of approximately 150 beats per minute, will burn more calories and lead to quicker weight loss, assuming proper nutrition, than performing thirty minutes of cardio in zone 1, with a heart rate of 130 beats per minute. It is also important to note the three zones are in place for a reason. A beginner should start in zone 1 and slowly progress through the cardio training continuum. For a more accurate starting point, make an appointment with a personal trainer at your local health club for a cardiorespiratory assessment. These assessments are designed to clearly define the starting point specific to you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.