Water aerobics is a low- to no-impact form of exercise that yields several health benefits, but only when you do it correctly. It's important to calculate and maintain the correct water workout heart rate to reap rewards. Knowing what heart rate to maintain can be elusive, though. Your target heart rate for on-land aerobics will be different than for water aerobics; the rules you use when exercising on land don't apply in water.
Water Aerobics Benefits
Working out in the water produces cardiovascular benefits without strain on the joints. Water acts as resistance to strengthen and tone muscles, and the swimming pool is a welcome environment for doing stretches that might be difficult on land. Though water aerobics might seem easier than land exercises, you can still get a strenuous workout.
Maximum Heart Rate
You'll need to know your maximum heart rate before you can calculate your target heart rate for water aerobics. The most basic way to calculate your maximum heart rate for land exercise is to subtract your age from 220. If you're a 40-year-old woman, subtract 40 from 220 to find your maximum heart rate -- which comes to 180 beats per minute.
Target Heart Rate
Your target heart rate -- the pulse you should maintain during aerobic exercise -- is between 60 and 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. Multiply .60 and .80 by your maximum heart rate to find the low and high ends of your target range. If your maximum heart rate is 180 beats per minute, your target heart rate range is between 108 and 144 beats per minute.
Water Aerobics Heart Rate
To find your target heart rate for water aerobics, decrease those numbers by 17 beats per minute. If you're a 40-year-old woman, keep your heart rate between 91 and 127 beats per minute. If you're embarking on a water aerobics class for the first time, keep your heart rate on the lower side of the target range. It's important to pay attention to how you feel, while also keeping track of your heart rate, to know whether you're exercising at an intensity level that's right for you.