124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

Fitness Friday: Adjusting your ticker

February 21, 2014


To maintain good heart health, the American Academy of Sports Medicine recommends exercising three times a week, for a minimum of 30 minutes, at a heart rate 60 percent of your maximum.

The good news for golfers is that walking when you play would meet this requirement. Back in 2006, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center put golf to the test and found that walking (either carrying or with a caddie) elevated participants' heart rates above that 60-percent threshold. For most men, the range is 100-120 beats per minute.

There is more than one formula for determining maximum heart rate. The one Golf Digest Fitness Advisor Ben Shear (@Ben_Shear) recommends is the Karvonen Method. Fitness consultant Brian Calkins has the Karvonen calculator on his website here: http://www.briancalkins.com/HeartRate.htm

But before you get too fixated on working out in a specific heart-rate zone, my advice is don't worry about it. While it's good to routinely check your resting heart rate (a good target zone is 50-80 beats per minute), trying to exercise in a specific heart-rate "zone," might limit your capabilities.

If you have been cleared by your physician for intense activity, it's OK to push yourself well beyond the 60-percent threshold. My general experience has been that middle-aged men and women should work in a range of 130-160 beats per minute. Don't worry, your body will tell you when you're overdoing it. The minute your form starts to deteriorate, and you can't do the exercise competently, it's time for a break.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor of Golf Digest.