Life is all about choices, and, when it comes to your health, you want to make sure you are making the right ones. You have to eat right and exercise; those are the two basic principles to living a healthy life, and, while it sounds easy enough, it isn’t. A nutrition plan that works great for you may not work for someone else, and an exercise regimen that is perfect for you could seriously harm someone else. One of the most important aspects to your health is your heart; if it isn’t functioning properly, or you’re not taking care of it, you could find yourself in real trouble.
This is especially true when it comes to exercising; monitoring and maintainingyour heart rate when working out is imperative, so much so, people have started to wear heart monitors while they work out. Is that a little too extreme? Not in the least. Your heart rate determines your fitness level, so monitoring yours helps avoid over-training or under-training, both of which can undermine the quality of your workout.
If you are under-training, which means your heart rate is too low, your workout is not challenging enough to produce any real results. You won’t burn enough calories, which will hinder weight loss, your endurance will be too low, and you won’t build any real strength. On the other side of the spectrum is over-training, which may be even more dangerous. When you push past your body’s limitations, you put yourself at risk for dehydration, dizzy spells, and fainting. Prolonged over-training can put you at risk for chronic pain and cause infections. So, when it comes to heart monitoring,you can see that it’s extremely important.
How to Find Your Target Heart Rate (THR)
Before you identify your target heart rate for exercising, you must first know what your resting heart rate is. The way you determine your resting heart rate is by counting the number of times your heart beats per minute when you’re at rest. The best time to do this is in the morning after you’ve had a peaceful sleep. To perform the test on yourself, simply put two fingers on the pulse point (the carotid artery) on your neck, and count the number of beats that occur in 20 seconds; then multiply by three, and that’s your resting heart rate (RHR).
Once you’ve determined your RHR, you can figure out what your target heart rate should be. This will require you to engage in some moderate exercise, where you should periodically stop and count your heart rate. Use the same technique as when you determined your RHR, but this time only count the beats per minute for 10 seconds, then multiply by six, and this is your maximum heart rate. Once you have this number, you need to stay between 50 to 85% of it, and that is your target heart rate range.
How to Maintain Your THR
The only way to maintain your target heart rate and ensure you’re not going above or below your number is by continuously monitoring it. Before technology made its way into almost every avenue of our everyday lives, people had to manually check it several times throughout their workout. It’s quite cumbersome, especially when you’re in the zone, to have to stop, pause, count, and adjust. Now you can get heart rate monitors in several easy to use accessories, such as a Scosche RHYTHM+ armband, or a Garmin Fenix 3 running watch. They’re easy to use, and they don’t get in the way of your workout.
Working Out with Your THR in Mind
To make sure you stay in range of your target heart rate, begin each of your workouts with cardio. This can be running, walking, using the elliptical, riding a bike – any form of cardio. Start slow, and work your way up to your target heart rate. Once you’ve hit the target, stay at that level of exertion; the key is to try to stay in constant motion in order to keep your heart rate at the optimal level.
When you switch to weight training, try choosing a three set rotation, meaning, pick three different stations, one for legs, arms, and glutes, and rotate between them. Do one set of arms; walk to the leg machine and do one set; head over to the glutes machine: again, one set. Repeat this until you’ve done three sets on each machine. The walking in between machines should keep you at your target heart rate; check your monitor regularly and listen for alerts. For those with a heart condition, consult a doctor when determining your workout regimen.
What benefits have you noticed in your health since you started wearing a heart rate monitor?