Heart Rate Is So High When Exercising

by Rob

high heart rate when exercising

I am just beginning to run. I started to do a Walk / Run program. But I think there is something wrong, my heart rate when walking at a good pace is 140 and when I run it reaches 177.

Is this normal? I am not running fast at all. If I slow down I am walking.

Answer by Dominique:

Hi Rob,

Thanks for your running training question. A friend of mine who recently started running, approached me with exactly your issue a while back.

Whether he was doing a slow run, easy run or tempo run, his heart rate always seemed to be pretty much the same. And quite high.

Only when he was doing intervals did his heart rate go up even more.

Let's focus on:

1. What is going on?
2. What can you do about this?

What is Going on With Your High Heart Rate During Exercise?

The American Heart Association suggests that a target heart rate during exercise should be 50-85% of your maximum heart rate. Max heart rate often gets estimated at 220 minus your age, but it can be way off your real maximum level. Check out the max heart rate while running page for better ways to estimate your max heart rate.

A heart rate of 177 BPM during running may be higher than your target heart rate range, especially if you're just starting out.

high heart rate when exercising

What I see often happening with beginning runners like yourself is that their body is simply not used to any exercise that really tests their cardiovascular fitness. That may lead, at the start, to a very high heart rate.

Your heart is the muscle that pumps your blood around your body. Like any muscle, it needs training. Your heart needs to be trained in pumping blood around the body strongly.

It is quite a common issue with beginning runners.

What Can You Do About Your High Heart Rate?

high heart rate when exercising

I am not saying you should simply accept your very high heart rate.

First of all, check yourself, is your running pace feeling easy and comfortable? If not, slow down further. It is ok if that is very close to walking speed. It might have to be like that for a while. But let's try to get to comfortable, conversational pace.

As time goes on and your fitness builds up you will find that your heart rate will not go up that much anymore during workouts.

What may also be the case is that your heart rate monitor is not that accurate and does not register sudden changes in activity that well. Despite advances in technology, a heart rate strap is still a much more reliable way to measure your heart rate compared to a pulse measurement.

You can try to control your heart rate further through a longer walking warm-up. Rather than immediately getting into your run/walk routine, do a 10-15 brisk walk to warm-up.

I suspect you'll find that as your fitness improves, your high heart rate while exercising will slowly disappear.

high heart rate when exercising
But if you're concerned about your heart rate during exercise, or if you have any underlying health conditions, it's a good idea to consult a healthcare professional. They can help you determine a safe and effective exercise plan based on your individual needs and fitness level.

You can read much more about using a heart rate monitor on the Heart Rate Monitor Training Page.

And in terms of a run/walk program, I'll humbly recommend one of my own --> Beginners Running Program 3 gets you to 30 minutes of non-stop running in 12 weeks and is a very popular and successful program.

Hope this helps.
Kind regards,

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