by Dr. Rob Gruttadauria, DPT, OCS
The number of calories you lose during a workout depends on your heart rate.
Any time you move your body, you burn calories. But depending on how fast your heart is beating (called your heart rate, or pulse), you burn a different number of calories. To maximize weight loss, aim to have your heart beating at 50 to 70% of its maximum heart rate while working out.
The heart rate you should aim for
The American Heart Association created the table below to show the average heart rate zone for adults of varying ages - it has been edited to show the heart rate zone for weight loss (these are estimates). You can use them to get an idea of what your heart rate should be when you're doing cardiovascular activities if your goal is weight loss.
For the first few weeks of working out, stick to the lower range for your age group (choose the age closest to yours). As you progress, you can increase your intensity and aim for the higher range.
Note: The AHA notes that if you're taking certain beta blockers, if you have a heart condition or if you’re in cardiac rehab, you should talk to a healthcare professional about what exercises you can engage in, what your target heart rate should be, and whether you need to be monitored during physical activity.