Zone 2 exercise is beneficial for cardiovascular health; here’s how you can calculate its intensity

For better heart health, stop sweating! It goes without saying that exercise has numerous health benefits, including weight management, improved strength, better blood sugar levels, improved mental health and agility, among others. But exercise is also extremely good for heart health, especially zone 2 exercise. Calling Physical Medicine, Dr. Arvind Bhateja, Chief Neurosurgeon, Sparsh Hospitals, took to Instagram to share that doing 45 minutes Of zone exercise 24-5 days a week, can greatly improve cardiovascular health.

Explaining what zone 2 is, Dr Bhateja said, “The simple way to calculate zone 2 is based on your maximum heart rate. Your maximum heart rate is given by the formula 220 minus your age. Then, you get 65 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate and exercise at that intensity for at least 45 minutes, four times a week, to maintain good cardiovascular health.


What is Zone 2 exercise?

Zone 2 exercise refers to a specific level of intensity of cardiovascular activity that affects the aerobic energy system. Deepti Sharma, director of Multifit, told indianexpress.com, “In the quest for a healthy and balanced lifestyle, exercise plays a vital role. Among the various types of workouts, exercise zone 2 has gained significant attention for its remarkable benefits cardiovascular health.

He added that zone 2 exercise is characterized by exercising at a moderate intensity, typically around 60-70 percent of your maximum heart rate. When you do zone 2 exercise, your heart rate is elevated enough to promote cardiovascular improvements, but remains within a sustainable range. This level of intensity allows for a longer duration of exercise without exhaustion, making it ideal for building endurance and improving cardiovascular health, he said.

How zone 2 exercise is good for heart health

Several scientific mechanisms contribute to the positive impact of Zone 2 exercise on cardiovascular health. Utsav Agrawal, Fittr Advanced Strength Coach shared them as:

1. Increased Cardiac Output: Zone 2 exercise improves the efficiency of the cardiovascular systems by increasing cardiac output. Regular aerobic exercise strengthens the heart muscle, allowing it to pump blood more effectively. This increased production supplies oxygenated blood to working muscles and organs, facilitating their optimal functioning.

2. Improved Stroke Volume: Stroke volume refers to the amount of blood pumped out of the heart with each contraction. Exercising Zone 2 increases stroke volume by enlarging the left ventricle of the heart and improving its contractile strength. This allows the heart to deliver a greater volume of oxygenated blood to the body per beat, reducing the strain on the heart and improving overall cardiovascular function.

Regular exercise in zone 2 can lead to a reduction in resting heart rate. (Photo source: Freepik)

3. Enhanced capillary network: Aerobic exercise stimulates the growth of new capillaries, the smallest blood vessels in the body. This process, known as angiogenesis, improves the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscles and organs. Developing a denser capillary network increases tissue oxygen extraction, improving overall cardiovascular health and strength.

4. Reduction in resting heart rate: Regular exercise in zone 2 can lead to a reduction in resting heart rate. This is due to the heart’s increased efficiency, which allows it to pump more blood with fewer beats. A lower resting heart rate indicates a healthier heart and reflects a higher level of cardiovascular fitness.

Some exercises in Zone 2

Zone 2 exercises typically refer to exercises performed at a moderate level of intensity, where you work at a pace that allows for sustained effort without becoming overly strenuous. These exercises primarily target the aerobic energy system, Agarwal shared. Here are some activities that can be Zone 2 exercises:

1. Brisk walk: Walking at a fast pace that gets your heart rate up but still allows for conversation.

2. Jog or run at a comfortable pace:
Run at a pace that you can maintain for an extended duration without feeling overly fatigued.

3. Cycling:
Moderate-intensity cycling, outdoors or on a stationary bike, where you maintain a constant effort without significant peaks in intensity.

4. Swimming:
Engage in continuous swimming at a moderate pace, ensuring steady breathing and consistent effort.

5. Aerobic Classes:
Participate in aerobic classes such as dance aerobics, step aerobics, or low-impact cardio workouts that involve rhythmic movements and sustained effort.

6. Rowing:
Moderate-intensity rowing on a rowing machine or boat, focusing on maintaining a steady pace and rhythm.

Things to keep in mind

When engaging in Zone 2 exercises, there are several important considerations to keep in mind. Agarwal shares them as:

1. Heart Rate Monitoring: Zone 2 exercises are usually performed at around 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. It is important to monitor your heart rate during exercise using a heart rate monitor or by checking your pulse regularly. This ensures that you are working within the intended intensity range.

2. Duration of exercise: Zone 2 exercises are typically done for longer periods, usually anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours. The goal is to maintain constant effort over an extended period to maximize aerobic benefits.

3. Gradual Progression:
If you’re new to zone 2 exercises, it’s important to start slowly and increase the duration and intensity of your workouts over time. This allows your body to adjust and reduces the risk of overexertion or injury.

4. Consistency: To achieve optimal cardiovascular benefits, consistency is key. Incorporating Zone 2 exercises into your routine regularly, ideally several times a week, helps build endurance, improve cardiovascular fitness, and maintain overall health.

5. Proper form and technique: Regardless of the specific exercise, it is important to maintain proper form and technique to prevent injury and maximize efficiency. This may involve seeking guidance from a qualified fitness professional or trainer to ensure you are performing the exercises correctly.

6. Recovery and rest: Adequate rest and recovery periods are essential to allow your body to adapt and get stronger. Balancing zone 2 exercises with rest days and incorporating activities like stretching, foam rolling, and proper nutrition promotes optimal recovery.

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