Why use a heart-rate monitor while exercising?

An easy-to-use heart-rate monitor helps you to get the most out of your workout. It's the perfect tool to use if you want to take exercise up a notch as it allows you to measure the amount of time you spend with your heart beating at an accelerated rate. Heart-rate monitors also help you exercise more safely.

Why use a heart-rate monitor while exercising?

Your maximum heart rate

Each of us has a maximum heart rate, above which we are over-exerting the heart and putting ourselves at risk. For most people, the maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. So, if you are 60, your maximum heart rate is 160 beats per minute.Doctors and fitness experts recommend that while exercising people reach and maintain roughly 60 to 65 percent of their maximum heart rates. For vigorous exercise, getting up to 80 percent of the maximum is acceptable, but only if you are really fit.

A good indicator of your ideal exertion is if you can maintain the "breathing-hard-but-still-able-to-talk" exertion level. At this level you're almost certainly in the target range of 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate.

The recommended quantity of exercise for healthy living is keeping your heart rate at 60 percent of your maximum rate for at least 30 minutes a day. For a 60-year-old, that would be 96 beats per minute.

In comparison, the average person has a resting heart rate of about 70 beats per minute.

Measuring your heart rate

Measuring can be done in two ways: with a heart-rate monitor or manually. Like pedometers, heart-rate monitors are becoming better known in fitness circles.

The cost of these devices runs from the not too expensive to the expensive, depending on the features, brand and style, but all are wonderfully easy to use.

Here's how to use most models.

  • First, you put a strap around your chest right against your skin (once you've put your shirt on, nobody can see it). Next, you put a monitor on your wrist. Most heart-rate monitors look like wristwatches, and in fact, many include clocks; you can actually wear them all the time. But the monitor also receives signals from the chest strap, telling you your heart rate.
  • Most monitors are programmable. The most popular tool is the ability to program the target heart range you want to be in while exercising (say, 65 to 75 percent of maximum). The monitor then beeps if you exceed 75 percent or fall below 65 percent.

If you don't want to use a monitor, it's quite simple to check your heart rate manually. To start, count your pulse for a minute to check your resting heart rate. Then do the same again when you feel you have reached your maximum.

Remember this information to help you exercise more safely and effectively.

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