The importance of using a heart rate monitor when you exercise
It’s important to exercise at the correct intensity to get the most out of your workout, making sure you’re not doing too much or not enough. Gauging whether you are exercising in a safe and appropriate zone can be hard to do without the correct equipment.
You can use how you are feeling as a general rule of thumb. For example, if you’re breathing deeply and rapidly, in pain or can’t speak more than a few words, you may be working out too intensely.
For a more accurate take on how you are doing (or if you are pregnant), you should wear a heart rate monitor. With a heart rate monitor, which typically includes a wrist monitor and a chest strap, you can be off and running (literally and figuratively) with the confidence that you’re working in your correct target zone.
A heart rate monitor is the most accurate and convenient way to assess the intensity of your workout, calculate your target training zone and calculate how many calories you are burning.
According to Mayo Clinic, you can calculate your maximum heart rate (the maximum number of times your heart should beat per minute) by subtracting your age from 220.
In addition to knowing your maximum heart rate, it’s important to know your target heart rate zone, which is the level at which your heart is being exercised, but not overworked. You can use an online calculator to figure out this number. Your target heart rate zone depends on whether your exercise intensity is moderate or vigorous.
- If you’re working out at a moderate intensity, your heart rate should stay between 50-70 percent of your maximum rate.
- If you’re working out at a vigorous intensity, your heart rate should stay between 70-85 percent of your maximum rate.
For example, if you’re 40 years old, your maximum heart rate is 180. If you’re exercising at a moderate intensity, your target heart rate should stay between 90 and 126 beats per minute. But, if you’re exercising at a vigorous intensity, your target heart rate should stay between 126 and 153 beats per minute.
If you’re not physically active, it’s recommended you initially aim for a lower target heart rate to ensure you don’t hurt yourself. As you begin to exercise more, you can gradually increase the intensity of your workouts.
By wearing a heart rate monitor, you can keep a close eye on exercising in your target zone and make adjustments as needed. This will allow you to get the safest and most effective workout.
Recommended review by an exercise physiologist