First, calculate your maximum heart rate (which you can do in a few ways).
A simple method is subtracting your age from 220, which gives you a fairly good gauge. Keep in mind that this formula is an estimate. If you have a medical condition, are overweight are aged over 40 years or haven’t exercised in a long time, see your doctor for a medical check-up before starting any new exercise program. Your heart-rate target range may need to be professionally recalculated to take your health and general fitness into account.
If you’re keen on accuracy for your maximum heart rate, you can try performing a field test. It involves running hard for three minutes, capturing your maximum heart rate, resting for three minutes and then repeating.
After some experience, you can also settle on a personalised figure. For me, that number is 165. Whenever I train over 165, injuries and fatigue tend to arise.
If you’re new to heart rate training, you can’t go wrong by starting with jogging in zone two (60–70 per cent of your max heart rate). If you’re feeling good, you can try training in zone three (70–80 per cent). Keep your heart rate at the lower end of your recommended range if you are just starting regular exercise. Gradually increase the intensity of your workouts as your fitness improves.
For maximum health benefits, the goal is to work hard, but not too hard. See New Zealand’s Physical Activity Guidelines.