Use of Heart Rate Monitors

use of heart rate monitorsBefore jumping into the purchase of a high tech heart rate monitor watch, it is a good idea to understand just what heart rate is and why it is important to monitor.

Heart rate is a number that simply refers to the number of times your heart beats in a minute.  The term “heart beat” refers to the contraction of the heart muscle.

Each time your heart muscle contracts, blood is pushed along your circulatory system.  It is a complex system and involves the lungs as well.  We breathe in air and our lungs help the blood get oxygen.  This oxygen is carried and used throughout our bodies and is vital to our very existence.

That is why the use of heart rate monitors has become so important, especially when it comes to fitness.  Think of our body as a machine.  If your machine is not running well, the performance will be poor.  On the contrary, a fine tuned machine can run at peak performance.

A good way to relate the use of heart rate monitors is to compare it to maintaining a car.  You wouldn’t start replacing parts on a car without first knowing what is wrong and how it should be corrected to work at its best, right?  It is the same with exercise and getting the best workout possible. When you understand heart rate and how to use it to your advantage, you can get the best workout for your individual body.  Remember, everyone is unique.  A training program that works great for one person may not be the best routine for another. Heart rate is not a steady thing.  Your heart rate number will be different depending on several factors and circumstances.  The more fit you are, the better the number will be for any given category.  For example: Resting Heart Rate Maximum Heart Rate Your resting heart rate is exactly what it sounds like.  Resting heart rate is the number of beats your heart makes each minute when you are resting.  The more fit you are, the lower this number will be, because a fit heart does not have to work as hard to pump blood throughout your body. Maximum heart rate is the highest number of beats, or contractions, your heart is able to produce within one minute.  This is a very important number when establishing your workout routines.  With more people understanding the benefits of heart rate monitors, they have become a very popular training tool with runners, other athletes, and exercise enthusiasts.

Training styles vary.  It is believed by changing the intensity and duration of youer workout, you can maximize the results.  What this means is exerting yourself at a pre-determined level of intensity for a specific amount of time.  Pushing yourself to achieve your maximum heart rate for short bursts or intervals, is said to give you better results than maintaining a steady level of intensity throughout the session.

Workout intensity can be determined by the percent of maximum heart rate achieved.  This is expressed in a percentage.  Furthermore, it is common to see a range of percentage established for each level of intensity.

The American Heart Association recommends you begin an exercise program at the low end of your target heart rate zone, and gradually build up your intensity until you reach the high end percent of that zone.

How Heart Rate Monitors Help

It is easy to locate a chart for average target heart rates.  They are broken down by age and offer both target heart rate zones and maximum heart rate numbers, in beats per minute.  The problem with these charts is that they are generalizations, based on age and figured out with averaging a huge amount of data.

It is impossible to get your body’s specific maximum beats per minute and percent of target for your desired zone intensity simply by finding your age on a chart.  Yes, it is true that your age plays a factor in the heart rate equation.  However, if you want accurate information that improves your training based upon your unique composition; a generalized chart will not do.

The bottom line is with the use of heart rate monitors, athletes can get more “bang for their exercise buck” by using the information to create the most efficient workout for their own unique body.

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