The Normal Heart Rate for Men Over 50 While Running
By Tina Bernstein
, last updated March 19, 2012
Heart rate during exercise follows patterns according to intensity and duration. Age is a factor, too. Understanding the relationships between heart rate, oxygen consumption and age will help you pick a good training zone to improve conditioning or burn fat. The more conditioned you become, the more responsive your heart is during exertion.
Resting vs. Maximum Heart Rate
Resting heart rate is measured during the morning after waking up, while in a resting position sitting or lying down. Most men have a resting heart rate from 50 to 85 beats per minute. Maximum heart rate, or MHR, is the top rate your heart can achieve and is generally not sustainable for a long period of time. MHR is the top end measurement of the primitive fight-or-flight response.
Heart Rate Equations
MHR is calculated by subtracting age from the number 220. For example, a 55-year-old man has a MHR of 165. Another method of determining exercise intensity heart rates uses the Heart Rate Reserve formula. Resting HR is subtracted from MHR, then added back to a percentage of MHR for a specific training intensity. For example, a 50-year-old man with a resting HR of 70 running at 65 percent of MHR should maintain a HR of 132 BPM, because (220 - 50 - 70) x .65 + 70 = 132 BPM.
Traditionally the slower, sustainable pace at 65 to 70 percent of MHR is thought to be a fat-burning zone. The idea is that the body first uses stores of glycogen in muscle and then turns to converting fat cells into glycogen during exercise. Longer endurance type runs will build up the capacity of the heart, so after a few weeks of running, heart rate may decrease during the same effort.
A way to continue cardiovascular conditioning is to use high-intensity intervals. While a typical endurance pace is at 65 to 70 percent of MHR, short intervals of 30 seconds or more at 75 to 90 percent of MHR have been proven to result in superior heart capacity and aid in fat loss. A healthy 50-year-old man exercising at 132 BPM could add stair running or hill climbing intervals where his BPM temporarily goes to 163.
Monitoring Heart Rate
Heart rate monitors that display your BPM and even training zone percentages are widely available. The advantage of a monitor is that it displays HR without having to stop and count your pulse at your wrist or neck arteries. Conditioned runners will see a drop in HR almost immediately upon stopping to measure HR. Monitors are also useful for men with suspected or confirmed heart disease as they will help you stay in the right zone for rehabilitation as recommended by your doctor and exercise physiologist.