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Family Fun

A Hearty Math Lesson

Knowing your maximum and target heart rates gives you a gauge for your workout. It’s also a fun way to introduce children to how the heart works and give them a math lesson to boot. This activity can be done inside or out, so there’s no excuse to skipping it.

A calculator
A watch or clock with a second hand
A jump rope (optional)

To Play:

1. Use the calculator to determine everyone’s maximum heart rate. The maximum heart rate is the point you shouldn’t go past when exercising.
  • Subtract your age from 220 to get your maximum heart rate.
  • If you are 40, your maximum heart rate is 180 beats/minute (220-40=180). If you are 17, your maximum heart rate is 203 (220-17=203).
  • Use this calculation for children 12 and older.
  • For younger kids, measure their perceived exertion and not their heart rate. In other words, if they can talk while exercising, they are at an appropriate level. If they are out of breath, they’re working too hard.

2. Calculate everyone’s target heart rate zone. The American Heart Association suggests you target 50-85% of your maximum heart rate as the ideal range for getting the most of your aerobic exercise. So, if you are 40, that target zone is between 90 and 153 beats/minute. If you are 17, it’s between 102 and 173 beats/minute. The target heart rate zone is high enough for a good workout but not so high that it strains your heart.
  • If you want a simple number and not a range, go for 70% of your maximum heart rate. Just multiply your maximum heart rate by .7. So if you’re 40, your target heart rate at 70% is 126 (180 X .7=126). If you are 17, it’s 142.

3. Get moving and monitoring! Take turns doing sets of 10, 20, 30 and more jumping jacks, monitoring each other’s heart rate by taking pulse readings for 30 seconds (an multiplying by 2) between sets. The goal is to do enough jumping jacks to reach and maintain your target heart rate – but not exceed it – for 20 minutes.
  • If you prefer, try jumping rope instead of doing jumping jacks.

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