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    How to Take the Talk Test

    The Talk Test is the simplest way to determine the intensity of your physical activity—or how hard your heart is working. You simply exercise at an intensity that is comfortable for you to maintain conversation.  You should be just barely be able to respond in conversation, with some breathlessness, usually accompanied by sweating. 

    One easy way to administer the talk test is to ask the person exercising to recite the “Pledge of Allegiance.”  If you are able to recite this and continue the physical activity, then the intensity is considered safe and appropriate for your improvement in cardiorespiratory endurance. 

    If you're doing moderate-intensity activity, you can usually talk, but not sing, during the activity. Whereas, if you're doing vigorous-intensity activity, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

    Research has shown the Talk Test is as appropriate as Target Heart Rate for testing intensity.  It also accounts for your current physical fitness level, allowing you to pay close attention to your body and only work as hard as you are able to. It also doesn’t require any equipment or complicated techniques. 

    If you came here from "Setting Goals and Starting a Heart-Healthy Physical Activity Plan," this link will return you to that page.

    Or use this Heart Rate Table from American Heart Association

    The table below shows estimated target heart rates for different ages. Look for the age category closest to yours, then read across to find your target heart rate.


    Target HR Zone
    50–85 %

    Average Maximum
    Heart Rate
    100 %

    20 years

    100–170 beats per minute

    200 beats per minute

    25 years

    98–166 beats per minute

    195 beats per minute

    30 years

    95–162 beats per minute

    190 beats per minute

    35 years

    93–157 beats per minute

    185 beats per minute

    40 years

    90–153 beats per minute

    180 beats per minute

    45 years

    88–149 beats per minute

    175 beats per minute

    50 years

    85–145 beats per minute

    170 beats per minute

    55 years

    83–140 beats per minute

    165 beats per minute

    60 years

    80–136 beats per minute

    160 beats per minute

    65 years

    78–132 beats per minute

    155 beats per minute

    70 years

    75–128 beats per minute

    150 beats per minute

    Your maximum heart rate is about 220 minus your age. The figures above are averages, so use them as general guidelines.