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Common Exercise Terms & Safety Considerations

Heart Rate (HR)

Determine your heart rate by finding your pulse: place a finger on the thumb side of the bottom of your forearm or against the side of your neck/jaw and count your pulse beat for 10 seconds. Multiply by six to calculate your heart rate per minute. As your endurance improves your heart rate will drop.

Maximum Heart Rate (MHR)

Subtract your age from 220 to determine your maximum heart rate. Ex: a 52-year-old person’s maximum would be 168. If I worked out at 100% my heartbeat on a monitor would register 168, but I could only sustain that for a minute. How fast our heart rate returns to normal is what counts as well.

Target Heart Rate (THR)

Calculated at 60% to 80% of your maximum heart rate. For the lower cutoff point, multiply .60 to your maximum heart rate; for the top cutoff point, multiply .80 to your maximum heart rate.

Stage Training

A three-stage programming system that uses different heart rate zones based on one’s Respiratory Exchange Ratio (RER). (RER is the ratio of CO2 produced to the volume of O2 consumed.)

Body Mass Index (BMI)

is a weight to height ratio that can indicate a normal or increased risk for certain weight-related issues. It is often used by fitness professionals, government or doctors for a simple and quick assessment.


Calculate Your BMI

Heart Rate Zone


HR %

Energy Activity

Zone One .80-.90 65-75% Aerobic Walk or Jog
Zone Two .95-1.0 80-85% Aerobic/Group class
Zone Three 1.1 86-90% Sprinting or Spinning
  1. Zone one is a beginner’s zone or recovery zone. Improves blood’s ability to deliver oxygen throughout the body and remove waste.
  2. Zone two is where the body can no longer produce enough energy for the muscles with normal oxygen. More calories are burned here from fat.
  3. Zone three is the high-intensity workout and cannot be sustained for very long (10 to 60 seconds).
  4. Varying workouts by moving through all three levels, especially in Zone two and three will improve your fitness level and change your body. Ideally working out two to three times a week is best for 30 to 60 minutes. Keep in mind for those not accustomed to exercise; it could take a few months to get used to the routine.
  5. Ratings of Perceived Exertion (RPE): This is a scale that describes how you feel you as you are exercising. The Borg scale ranges from six to 20.
  6. Blood Pressure (BP): A measure of the blood’s pressure upon the arterial walls which consists of two values: systolic (top number), when the heart contracts or pumps the blood through the circulatory system and diastolic (bottom number), when blood fills up followed by a contraction. An average BP is 120/80mmHg for the general population. More recent guidelines emphasize that a BP measurement of 135/85 mmHg for the general population is considered pre-hypertensive and should be lowered by medication and diet. For diabetics, a BP of 130/80 is considered pre-hypertensive. A hypertensive reading of 140/90 mmHg for the general population should be taken seriously if remains high for a sustained period of time.

Safety Considerations

  • Stop exercising if you experience pain, discomfort, nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath or clammy hands.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water (watch the other sports drinks; they may contain high levels of sodium that can affect blood pressure).
  • Set realistic short and long term goals.
  • Find and follow an exercise program that meets your specific goals.
  • When choosing a trainer, be sure they are certified and have experience working with your age group or have an advanced degree in kinesiology.
  • As a precaution, when working out with a personal trainer, be sure he/she monitors your blood pressure (if you have been instructed by your physician) at the beginning, middle and end of your exercise session.

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