Adjust Heart Rate Zones with Training In Summer Heat

It's time for a mid morning Summer Run in Lakes Park - let's hydrate and be careful to consider the heat & humidity in our workout!  Photo courtesy of Charly Caldwell II

Tracking your heart rate or knowing how hard you’re working is far more useful than simply following a stopwatch.

For instance, running a 10-min mile at noon outdoors is going to require a lot more effort than running a 10-min mile on an indoor treadmill.

Therefore, heart rates are a fantastic tool that can help dictate workout efforts more accurately.

If you’re using a stopwatch or timer as your source of feedback, you may end up pushing yourself harder than necessary and in turn unconsciously sabotage your own efforts.

However, if you pace yourself using a heart rate monitor, you know when it’s appropriate to push a little harder and when it’s time to back off. 

Having said that, there are some factors that affect heart rate training and knowing how to adjust for them can help you maximize your results.

First - determine your zones.

A rudimentary guide is to take 220 - your age = your maximum heart rate.

Multiply that number by .5 and .8 and you will get a range that represents 50-80% of your maximum heart rate.

Next - remember hearts rates are generally lower in the morning.

The variance in heart rates for a morning workout verses an afternoon is typically 5-6 beats per minute but can be as high as 10 beats per minute.

This is important because if you set your target heart rate zones based on your morning heart rates (which most people do) and workout in the afternoon, you will need to adjust your workout/zones accordingly.

Heart rates also increase as temperatures rise.

Heart rates are always higher when temperatures are warm and humid outside.

In fact, you can plan to add 2-4 beats per minute when the temperatures rise from 60-75* and another 10 beats per minute when temperatures soar from 75-90*.

Additionally, when we couple high humidity with high temperatures, it becomes necessary to adjust heart rates zones for training conditions.

Finally, Keep in Mind That Dehydration causes an increase in heart rate.

As you become dehydrated, blood volume decreases and less blood is pumped with each stroke.

A fluid loss of as little as 1% can cause your heart rate to raise 7 beats per minute.

For example, a weight loss of 1.5 pounds for a 150-pound person due to dehydration can cause a heart rate increase of 7 beats per minute.

Such fluid loss is typical for an hour of outdoor moderate activity.

On these hot humid days, athletes training outdoors can expect to lose over 2 pounds of water per hour. 

It is therefore imperative to pay attention to hydration as it goes hand-in-hand with heart rates and healthy exercise.

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