Why Does Your Heart Rate Increase When You Exercise?


We all know that your heart rate is an essential indicator of your health and fitness—but why does your heart rate increase when you exercise? This article explores why this happens and what the results of it going too high maybe, while also addressing how to measure your heart rate during a workout.

What Is a Normal Heart Rate?

Your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute. A normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute. When you’re exercising, your heart could beat faster than when you’re relaxing due to the increased demand for oxygen delivery by your muscles.

DID YOU KNOW? Cardiovascular (heart) disease is the most common cause of death among men and women in the United States, but exercising can help you improve heart health and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Why Does Your Heart Rate Increase When You Exercise?

When you exercise, your muscles require more oxygen than when you’re at rest. To meet this increased demand, your heart will pump blood through your body faster, resulting in an increased heart rate. However, this important muscle needs at least a little bit of exercise in order to pump blood, and even with light exercise, your heart becomes stronger with time.

Once you’ve understood the basics of what influences your average heart rate while exercising, it’s time to understand the exact process your heart goes through while working out. Once you begin exercising, your heart will contract faster and your circulation will start to increase, getting oxygenated blood to your muscles much quicker than when you’re at rest. As the demand for blood grows, the heart will attempt to meet it by increasing the rate and strength with which it contracts.

Factors That Influence Your Heart Rate

If you want to know why there’s an increased heart rate when exercising, there are a few factors to consider:

  • Age

Just like the rest of our body changes with age, as we get older, our hearts become less efficient and our heart rate decreases.

  • Fitness Level

If you’re in good shape, your heart will not have to work as hard, and your heart rate will be lower than someone who is out of shape. Usually, those who run or train on a regular basis have a resting heart rate.

  • The Intensity of the Workout

As the exercises get more intense, we experience a high heart rate when working out. So, the more intense the workout, the higher the heart rate will be.

  • Heart’s Overall Strength

A stronger heart can pump the blood in fewer beats than a weaker heart would require to supply the body with the same amount of blood. So, a person with a strong heart will usually have a lower resting heart rate than someone whose heart isn’t as strong.

All of these factors play a great role in increasing the heart rate during a workout. Even if you’re younger, try to never go over the maximum heart rate limit, as you can experience a high heart rate when working out, especially during some vigorous physical activity, which can lead to some serious health problems.

That said, there are a lot of cardiovascular benefits that come with exercising. Decreased heart rate, reduced blood pressure, burning of calories when struggling with weight loss, and lowering the risk of heart disease are just one of the many benefits exercising can bring to your life.

What Happens if Your Heart Rate Is Too High During Exercise?

If your heart rate goes above 140 beats per minute, it’s considered too high, and you should stop exercising to avoid putting a strain on your heart.

A high heart rate while exercising could be very dangerous for your health, especially if you’re new to exercise or have any medical conditions, so it’s important to consult your doctor before starting an exercise program to make sure your heart can handle the strain. If your heart rate gets too high during exercise, you could experience arrhythmias, chest pain, or discomfort, so if you notice at least one of these symptoms when running, jogging, or even swimming, it’s best to take it easy, relax and find the pace you are comfortable with.

If you’re working out regularly, it’s important you have a safe heart rate while exercising, so you should monitor it to make sure you’re not overdoing it. With a little bit of understanding, you can use your heart rate as a tool to help you reach your fitness goals safely and effectively.

If you’ve ever wondered why athletes have a resting heart rate even lower than the normal one for their age, it’s because they do a lot of cardio and other activities that help them regulate their heart rate after a certain period of time. Cardiac output is very important to maintain a normal heart rate when working out. The more cardio you include in your workout, the lower your heart rate will be—buying a desk treadmill or just going to a fitness center can help reach this goal.

How to Calculate Your Maximum Heart Rate

There are a few ways you can measure your maximum heart rate during a workout and ensure you’re maintaining a normal heart rate while exercising.

For most people, the ideal heart rate during exercise is between 50–85% of the maximum heart rate. You can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220—for example, if you’re 40 years old, your maximum heart rate would be 180 beats per minute (220-40=180).

Another common way to determine your heart rate during exercising, be it walking or doing aerobic exercises, is by using a heart rate monitor, which is a device you strap around your chest to measure your heart rate. Additionally, some exercise machines have heart rate sensors you can keep track of while working out.

Key Takeaways

The normal resting heart rate is somewhere around 60–100 beats per minute.
Age, fitness level, workout intensity, and the heart’s overall health are the main factors that determine how fast the heart will beat.
Whenever you experience a sudden spike in heart rate while exercising, stop whatever you’re doing and take a deep breath.
One way to calculate your maximum heart rate is by subtracting your age from 220.


Your heart rate when working out increases all the time, which is why monitoring your heart rate during exercise is important to ensure you’re not overworking yourself. The moment your heart rate gets too high, slow down or stop working out and drink lots of fluids. Hopefully, this article helped you understand why your heart rate increases and how you can control your heart rate.


What should my heart rate be while exercising?

For most people, the ideal heart rate during exercise is between 50–85% of your maximum heart rate, which you can calculate by subtracting your age from 220.

How to measure heart rate while exercising?

There are a few ways to measure your heart rate while exercising, the most common being using a heart rate monitor, which is a device that straps around your chest and measures your heart rate. You can also check your pulse at your neck or wrist to get an idea of your heart rate, or choose exercise machines with heart rate sensors to monitor your workout.

How to keep heart rate down while exercising?

If you’re wondering why does your heart rate increase when you exercise and are looking for ways to keep your heart rate down throughout your workout—slow down or stop working out as soon as your heart rate increases, wear loose clothing, and drink lots of fluids to lower your heart rate.



When she couldn’t decide between being a nurse, a psychotherapist, and a financial genius, Ofelia decided to do all three. Her interests run far and wide, and she loves researching about everything you get to read on our website. Credit cards or top-notch software, she’s here to tell it all like it is.

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