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British Heart Foundation
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Heart rate during exercise

Hello all

I'm trying to get some definitive info on what my safe exercise heart rate should be. I am 60 year old. I had a triple CABG 5 months ago. I am on 3.75mg bisoprol and 1.25mg Ramipril, daily. I take a statin and aspirin as well. My medication induced resting heart rate is typically around 45-52 bpm.

So, reading the internet, for a 'normal' person, the max heart rate for a male is 220 minus age. For me that would be 160 bpm. I then have to allow for the betablockers lowering my heart rate. When I went to Cardiac Rehab I was told my max should only be 110 bpm. I'll be honest, that was a total waste of time for me, I never felt like I was working. I have set my own target as 130 bpm (so 30 below the theoretical max). I have been using this for a while - I go as high as 140 on the odd spike, but on average across a 40 minute static bike session I'll average around 115 bpm or so. My recovery times are coming down in leaps and bounds. I feel really good and a lot healthier than I have done in years, but am I doing harm?

What have others been told or what are you doing


7 Replies

Hi Steve.

I guess you have seen this from the BHF, which gives some broad advise. You obviously are well researched on this issue so you may find asking your GP or Cardiologist better than Dr Google.

BHF link:



Have a look through this Steve. There isn't a definitive answer but there is a loose logic behind max HR advice. Best bet is to ask your cardiologist.



Thanks Marc. Looks like BHF say 50-70% of max is the target . That being the case my target range would be 80-112 bpm. I also found the American Heart Association page to be useful. They are a little less conservative and suggest a max of 85% (128 bpm). So, I still want to push myself a bit and get fitter so I’m going to set my max at 125 and try and exercise in the 100-125 bracket. I figure it’s a reasonable compromise position. It means I’ll be easing off - alittle!


Your heart is muscle, like body builders who use massive weights to 'damage' their muscles which then repair and get bigger, by pushing your heart to its max you are doing the same thing. It will get stronger. What is your max is the question? You will also need to provide your body with the right repair materials, eg protein.... Look at High Intensive Training, also how lower testosterone levels in older men affects us, and how salmon, avocados, tuna and nuts can help reduce visceral fat. Muscle uses fat so more muscle then more fat will be used...If you have the money it is possible to have a bespoke assessment via DNA testing rather than the usual one drug fits all approach.


Hi Steve I'm a 52 year old male who had a 4x CABG nearly 2 years ago now . was told not to get too hung up on HR but rather listen to your body. Sometimes I can have a great run without pushing too hard and achieve a fast time. Other days I've pushed hard and struggled with slow times. My last park run averaged at 149 BPM and peaked at 170. Probably around 80-90% effort but felt great. hope this helps


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Thanks Phil. I've read the 'listen to your body' thing as well and I have given others exactly that advice in the past in this forum. I was just seeing if there is anything definitive out there. What I am learning is that there isn't! The only thing everyone seems to agree on is the max heart rate (220-age), after that it seems to be a case of do what you think is right for you!


Hi Steve, thought I would just chip in and add to the consensus or lack thereof!. I am 42 , HA six months ago, resulting in 5 stents and now mild to moderate atheroma with a LVEF of 50% ( but hopefully that is increasing). Yes , broadly told to go with the Borg scale ; breathing heavy but still able to hold a brief conversation ; but I also work to a heart rate of 115-130 (as advised by Physio in rehab , using similar calculations as you have listed). I was actually quite aerobically fit ( half marathons in last five years and regularly played football and exercised) , so I end up around 140 in my thrice weekly workouts (15 minute gradual warmup, 30 minute pushing it, then 10 min gradual warm down and then stretches) . I could go faster but accept this is me now (I used to get a real buzz from pushing it). ; I get the occasional feeling - but no real discomfort (I always find it hard to describe my aches and pains for some reason) - but I do back off then a bit. What I am wondering is if I can increase the frequency of workouts at some point ( advise for all in rehab was generally to rest a day between cardio sessions, and do resistance on alternate days) , so I am wondering about trying to get a ECG stress test - which should be able to advise if it is safe to do so...I think. Anyway, hope there was something there of value!, all the best, Richard

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