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High Heart Rate While Running

High Heart Rate While Running

Very high heart rate while running can cause fibrillation of heart. Read on, to know about the normal healthy heart rate range and causes of increased heart rate....
Leena Palande
Heart rate (HR) is a traditional diagnostic tool which helps assess the health of an individual, especially the heart health. The number of times your heart contracts (beats) in a minute is your heart rate. The unit of measurement is beats per minute (bpm). Heart rate measured while resting is the normal or resting HR. Heart pumps blood during every contraction. As the demand for blood and oxygen increases during exercise, the heart has to beat faster. If the rate of beating increases beyond a certain limit, you won't be able to breathe or speak. Extremely high heart rate while running can damage the heart. Safe heart rate while running can be calculated with the help of maximum heart rate.

High Heart Rate Causes

If a heart can pump the required quantity of blood with minimum number of contractions, it is considered as healthy heart. The heart which has to work harder (beat faster) to pump the required quantity of blood is considered as a weak heart. The heart rate varies according to age, gender, lifestyle and overall health of that individual. Infants and children have higher HR than adults. Women have slightly higher heart rate than men. One who leads a sedentary lifestyle has higher HR than one who is physically active. Overweight or obese people have higher HR than normal weight people. Similarly, those diagnosed with diseases and disorders like high blood pressure, other heart diseases, thyroid disorder, can have higher than normal heart rate. Certain medications can lead to rapid HR. Women may experience increased heart rate during pregnancy due to increased metabolism. In general, higher than normal rate of heart indicates a weak heart. Take a look at the normal heart rate range for children and adults.
  • Normal HR for newborn infants: 100 - 160 bpm
  • Normal HR for children belonging to the age group 1-10 years: 70 - 120 bpm
  • Normal HR for children over 10 and adults (even elderly): 60 - 100 bpm
  • Normal HR for well-trained athletes: 40 - 60 bpm.
Athletes undergo regular intensive training which strengthens their lungs and hearts. Therefore their hearts show an amazingly slow rate of beating. If a beginner starts exercising like an athlete, his heart would get damaged.

High Heart Rate while Running

You need to calculate your maximum heart rate first. You can calculate it by attempting a treadmill test in a clinic. It is the safest way, since the test is performed in the presence of a medical officer. Otherwise, you can use the simplest age adjusted formula to know your maximum heart rate (MHR).
  • MHR for Men = 220 - age
  • MHR for Women = 226 - age
Once you know your MHR, you can start exercising (running) with 50% of MHR, if you are a beginner. The target heart rate zone for exercise varies from person to person, depending upon the capacity of the heart and lungs.

How to Determine Safe Heart Rate Zone for Running

Running with 50 to 60% of your MHR is considered as running with low intensity. But this is the safest or healthiest zone to exercise for the beginners. One may speak normally while running with 50-60% of MHR. Beginners should gradually increase their intensity, as the capacity of the heart and lungs increases slowly. Remember, you cannot reap the health benefits of running if you run with a heart rate, that is just a little bit higher than the normal one.

Those who exercise regularly can run with 60 to 70% of MHR. This is called the fitness zone. While running with higher heart rate, you may find it difficult to breathe and speak. But exercising with high heart rate is natural for high intensity exercise and you can burn more fat and calories by exercising in this zone. Running with 70 to 80% of your MHR is possible after enhancing the capacity of the heart and lungs. This is called aerobic zone. Athletes who undergo endurance training can run with such a high heart rate. The anaerobic zone is the zone when your HR falls within the range of 80 to 90% of your MHR (this is said to be too high HR). Athletes do reach such a high HR during circuit training for a short while. Athletes can run with even 90-100% of their MHR for a short while, under the guidance of their physicians and physical trainers.

For common people, running with 50-85% of the MHR is considered as safe. The MHR calculated with the help of the formula may be different from the actual MHR by 10-15 beats. Those diagnosed with health problems and those on medication should consult their physician for safe heart rate during exercise. Your physical fitness determines your safe heart rate while running. Regular exercise helps improve your fitness level. It boosts your energy levels too.