Why measure your heart rate? Tracking your heart rate while working out is a great and reliable way to ensure that you are getting the maximum benefits out of your activity. The other bonus to heart rate training is that you quickly see the health rewards from your workouts.
Aerobic exercise is supposed to be giving your heart and lungs (cardio vascular system) a good workout. Once you get fitter a couple of things will happen. Firstly, your resting heart rate will start to drop. This means that your heart is becoming more efficient with pumping the blood around your body. The fitter you are, the lower your resting pulse. Secondly, once you become fitter you will have to work at a harder intensity to keep your heart rate up. This explains why many people who never increase the intensity of their workouts tend to hit plateaus with their fitness and weight loss.
Figuring out your heart rate.
The easiest, and cheapest way, to determine the heart rate zone that you should be working in will give you a pretty good idea of what you should be aiming for. Simply subtract your age in years from the number 220. So if you are 40 your maximum heart rate at 100% would be 180. You then multiply this number by 0.75 and then again by 0.85 to calculate your heart rate training zone. So for the 40 year old, the target heart rate zone would be 135- 153 beats per minute.
Resting heart rate.
This is your pulse rate when you wake up first thing in the morning before you start moving around. Before you embark on your fitness program it can be a great idea to keep a record of your resting pulse initially and then you can watch it steadily drop as your heart and lungs become fitter.
Heart rate monitors.
These can be an easy way to ensure that you are in the correct training zone without having to stop and take your pulse all the time. Some of the better quality ones will beep at you if you go outside your ideal zone, and many will record the amount of time you were training in your correct zone. These can take all the guess work out.
Ideal heart rate zones.
For a great aerobic workout the recommended target heart rate zone is 75-85% of your maximum heart rate, as calculated from above. Generally most people need to train in this zone for at least 30 minutes to gain the benefits. If you can’t manage that initially, start slow and build up. At 75-85% you will be achieving maximum daily heart health from your workout.
Once you go over the 85% you will lose the benefits of the aerobic workout, and you will move into anaerobic. Working under 75% means you should be pushing yourself a bit harder.
As we already said, once you start getting fitter, you will notice that you have to work harder to keep your heart rate in the training zone. So eventually you will be walking, running, swimming, or cycling faster to work your heart out at the same rate.
Measuring your heart rate while working out is a simple and effective way to ensure that you are exercising most efficiently. Your heart rate is a very accurate guide to determining your overall health and fitness. Sticking in your heart rate training zone will ensure that you are neither training too hard or not hard enough, both of which are counter productive.