The Truth About Heart Rate, Monitors and Exercise

Do you really need to track your heart rate when you work out?

Heart Rate Monitor. Ref: amazon.com

Heart Rate Monitor. Ref: amazon.com

When you are a semi-serious exerciser, you probably know that it’s a good idea to check your resting and maximum heart rates and to track your heart rate during workouts.

Knowing how fast the heart is beating before, during, and after exercise can be helpful, especially for heart patients and competitive athletes. But much of the conventional wisdom about heart rate and exercise is wrong.

Is it TRUE OR FALSE that it’s vital to monitor your heart rate during exercise.

FALSE. It all depends on who you are and what you are exercising for.

If you have heart disease and your doctor has forbidden strenuous exercise, monitoring your heart rate during a workout is a good way to avoid pushing your heart into a danger zone. Heart rate monitoring can also make sense for serious runners, cyclists, and other athletes who are eager to optimise their aerobic fitness.

Otherwise, there’s no real need to know your heart rate.

If you are exercising for your health, the most important thing to do is get up andenjoy your exercise.

Is it TRUE OR FALSE that your resting heart rate is a good indication of aerobic fitness.

TRUE. Regular aerobic exercise makes your heart stronger and more efficient, meaning that your heart pumps more blood each time it contracts, needing fewer beats per minute to do its job.

For most people, a normal resting heart rate is between 60 and 90 beats a minute. Athletic training can lower that rate by 10 to 20 beats per minute.

But if you have a lower resting heart rate than someone else, don’t assume that you’re in better shape than them, or vice versa. Two people can be equally fit and have significantly different resting heart rates.

Is it TRUE OR FALSE that your maximum heart rate declines with age.

TRUE. As we all know, exertion makes the heart beat faster, and the greater the exertion, the faster the heart rate. But there’s an upper limit on how fast your heart can beat, and that limit is affected by age.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a couch potato or a trained athlete, your heart rate declines about seven beats per minute for each decade. Regular exercise can lower your resting heart rate, but it does nothing to slow the age-related decline in maximum heart rate.

Is it TRUE OR FALSE that moderate exercise promotes weight loss more effectively than vigorous exercise.

FALSE. Weight loss is a matter of simple arithmetic. To shed pounds you must burn more calories than you consume. When it comes to burning calories the greater the exertion the greater the rate at which calories are burned.

Working out at about 60% to 75% of your maximum heart rate (the so-called “fat-burning zone”) burns fewer calories than working out at 75% to 85% of your maximum heart rate (the so-called “aerobic” or “cardio” zone).

But caloric burn depends on a workout’s duration as well as its intensity and it’s easier to work out longer when exercising at a lower intensity.

Is it TRUE OR FALSE that there’s a simple and reliable formula for calculating your maximum heart rate.

TRUE. There is such a formula — but…

…it’s not the familiar 220 minus your age in years. That formula, first promulgated in the 1960s, works reasonably well for people under age 40. But it overstates the maximum heart rate for older people.

A more accurate formula is the one published in 2001. Multiply your age by 0.7 and subtract that figure from 208. For example, a 40-year-old has a maximum heart rate of 180 (208 – 0.7 x 40).

Formulas aside, maximum heart rates vary even among people of the same age. The formula is only relevant for groups of people, for individuals the prediction is off by plus or minus 10 to 20 beats per minute.

It’s possible, of course, to determine your maximum heart rate by running or riding a bike to the point of exhaustion. But because it can be risky exercise to that intensely is not recommended for men over 45 or women over 55, as well as for heart disease patients or people with heart disease risk factors, unless they have been exercising regularly or have been cleared to exercise by their doctors.

Is it TRUE OR FALSE that using a heart rate monitor can help boost your fitness level.

TRUE. Electronic heart monitors typically consisting of a wristwatch-like display and an electrode-studded chest strap are used by serious runners, cyclists, etc. while training and even during races. By providing accurate and real-time heart rate information the monitors help athletes to pace themselves.

But even if you’re not preparing for a marathon or a century ride using a heart rate monitor can help motivate you to exercise.

It’s not easy to monitor your progress manually but quite easy with a heart rate monitor. You need to get one.

Check these Heart Rate Monitors to see which one suits you best.

Garmin Forerunner 305 Wrist-Worn GPS Personal Training Device with Heart Rate Monitor

Polar F4M Heart Rate Monitor

Polar. RS100 Heart Rate Monitor

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