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Benefits of a Heart Rate Monitor

Using a heart rate monitor is an effective way to get results from your workout. To improve your fitness, there are three variables you can control and change:
Frequency–how often you exercise.
Duration–how long your individual exercise sessions are.
Intensity–how challenging the individual exercise sessions are.

Getting the frequency and duration of your exercise right is easy. Intensity is more difficult to target and is also the most important variable in achieving your goals. One way to measure intensity is to rely on how you feel when exercising by rating your effort as easy, moderate or hard. This is a good start, but a heart rate monitor is a more accurate gauge of intensity.

A heart rate monitor makes achieving the right intensity of exercise much easier to determine. You decide what your heart rate will be for a given workout and then watch your monitor to make sure you reach it.

Maximum Heart Rate (MHR)
Your MHR (roughly calculated as 220 minus your age) is the upper limit of what your cardiovascular system can handle during physical activity.

Here is an example of a 29yrs old female.
Step 1: 220-29 yrs = 209
For vigorous exercise you will aim for a target heart rate of 70 to 85 percent of your (MHR).
Step 2: 70%-85% is target MHR.
209 x .70 = 146
209 x .85 = 177

So, the estimated target maximum heart rate zone is 146-177 beats per minute.

The longer you train in your MHR zone, the greater the intensity of your workout, and the sooner you see results. If you’re looking for more than an estimate, consider discussing your target range with an exercise physiologist or a personal trainer.

The most popular heart rate monitor brands are Polar and Garmino. Personally, I use a Polar Heart Rate monitor. I recommend going to www.polar.com and click on “new to polar” and watch the 1-2 minute video describing heart rate training. Most heart rate monitors keep a log of your workout history. Tracking your progress allows you to see how far you’ve come, which reinforces the positive changes you are making in your life!

Many people have a higher or lower MHR, sometimes by as much as 15 to 20 beats per minute. Several types of medications can lower your maximum heart rate and, therefore, lower your target heart rate zone. Beta blockers, most anti-arrhythmic medications, some calcium blockers and digoxin are among the most common. In some people, H-2 blockers prescribed for acid reflux also reduce maximum heart rate. If you’re taking any of these medications, ask your doctor if you need to use a lower target heart rate.

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