How to calculate your heart rate zones

It can be tough to know how your heart rate impacts your overall health and fitness on a day to day basis. It can take weeks, sometimes even months, to notice a physical change. The PAI Health app lets us better understand our heart rate zones, turning heart rate information into valuable insights - your PAI Score - for long-term health.

So how does it work?

On a very basic level, the PAI Health app takes your maximum heart rate, your resting heart rate, and your background information (height, weight, sex, age) to give you a weekly goal. The app then also takes each physical activity you do along with your heart rate data and turns that into your PAI Score.

Outside of the PAI Health app you can do your own calculations to get a general sense of how your heart rate translates into different activity intensities, read more below!

How to manually calculate your heart rate

1. Calculate your maximum heart rate

Let's start with the easiest, calculating your Max Heart Rate (MHR). The PAI Health app uses a MHR formula from the Cardiac Exercise Research Group (CERG), which is very approximately (211 - 0.64 x age).

If you are 40 years old, for example, your MHR would be approximately 185. If you're 59, your MHR would be around 173 beats per minute.

While this formula provides a general guideline for your Max Heart Rate, there can be variations due to your genetics. If you're interested in an even more accurate manual calculation for MHR, CERG has a comprehensive guide here.

2. Determine your resting heart rate

This one's a little more time consuming, but it's one of the best ways to manually record your Resting Heart Rate (RHR). Take your pulse before you get out of bed in the morning, and continue this for 3-4 days in a row to get consistent readings.

Your RHR improves, aka decreases, as you improve your fitness. That means if you're earning 100 PAI per week on a consistent basis, you may see your resting heart rate go down! Because your RHR can change depending on your lifestyle, it's a good idea to measure it on a regular basis to track your progress.

3. Get your heart rate reserve

Heart Rate Reserve (HRR) is the difference between your Resting Heart Rate and your Maximum Heart Rate. It's used primarily for determining heart rate zones during exercise, and the amount of cushion in heartbeats available for exercise. To get your HRR, subtract your heart's resting rate from your maximum rate.

Your HRR is used in the PAI Health app to calculate activity intensity zones, which you can view by navigating into the PAI Earned section of the app. To get there, tap on the PAI Earned Today section of the Home screen, directly underneath your current PAI Score.

4. Use your heart rate to earn PAI more efficiently

The PAI Health app takes your Resting and Max Heart rates to calculate your Heart Rate Reserve, and then compares those numbers with each activity you do to determine your PAI Score.

Outside of the app, you can calculate your own activity intensities by using percentages of your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR). Low intensity activities will be at about 0-60% of your MHR, moderate intensity activities will be about 60-80% of your MHR, and high intensity activities will be at 80-100% of your MHR.

So if your MHR is 201 beats per minute, a low intensity activity would have your heart pumping at around 118 beats per minute. In this same example, a high intensity activity would have your heart rate at 163 beats per minute or higher.

These are all overall guidelines, of course, to help you get a better understanding of how different intensity zones, and different activities, translate into PAI.

Related Articles