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What is a normal heart rate for children when working out?
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What is a normal heart rate for children when working out?

Dear Doctor,

My son just turned 14 in September, and is 6'3 and 225lbs....We recently joined the gym has a family and have been going for 4 weeks... Today my son was on the ellipical and his heart reat was at 198....and he was comfortble no heavy breathing...but I was concerned it was to high....Should I be concerned or is this normal.?

Thank you
Tammy
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Dear Tammy,

Actually, there are a couple of things that need to be taken into consideration here.  For starters, your son’s heart rate is not too high.  The maximum predicted heart rate for exercise is the number 220 minus age.  So, his maximum is 206, meaning 198 is okay.  However, 198 is 96% of maximum predicted, which means that he is above the typical training range of 65-90%.  This leads to the other thing that I was going to bring up:  his weight.  Based on his height, 225 lbs. is way too much.  Although I can’t say for sure without examining him, I would say that one of the reasons that his heart rate went up so high is that he may be out of shape.  At this point, there are two main permanent changes that he will have to make:  dietary and exercise changes.  Dietary changes include elimination of fast food, fried food, fatty foods, and sodas; increased fruit and vegetable intake; decreased dairy fat content to skim or fat-free; using baking, broiling, or steaming for cooking; and, above all the hardest thing to do, smaller portion sizes.  A portion size is the size of the palm of his hand, and he gets firsts (no seconds/thirds).  The other change is exercise.  He should be doing aerobic exercise (walking, running, swimming, biking, basketball, etc.) for at least an hour EVERY day, and his sedentary time should be less than two hours per day.  Hopefully these interventions will improve his exercise tolerance and decrease his risk factors for premature coronary artery disease.
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