Maintaining a Healthy Heart Rate During Exercise
by Lucy Miller
A Fitness and Nutrition Expert
We all know that exercise is one of the best things you can do for your heart but its also one of the best ways to measure your level of fitness too, which is why you won’t find me in the gym without my heart rate monitor!
My Polar FT60 is like my PT. It guides me during my session and if I wake up in the morning and read a slightly higher figure than usual, I know its because I’m either coming down with a cold or some sort of bug or I have been over training and need a rest. Your heart says so much about your training!
The thing is, different goals require different heart rates. If you are interested in improving your ability to last 10 rounds in the boxing ring than you'll want to maintain a higher heart rate for few minutes for a few sets. In other words, a sprint.
If you are interested in burning fat then you'll want to maintain a moderate heart rate for a longer amount of time; like running a marathon, you'll want to maintain an only slightly elevated heart rate for and extended amount of time, so you know you can exercise for a long sustained period and not hit the wall and fatigue too quickly.
In my opinion, a good heart rate monitor is an inexpensive and useful tool in the gym. It will allow you find your exercise sweet spot – where the body is being pushed just hard enough without the risk of injury or overuse. If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, then don’t worry, you can also measure your Beats Per Minute (BPM) by finding your pulse and counting the amount of beats inside of 10 seconds and then multiplying by six. The lower your pulse, the fitter you are because the heart muscle increases in both size and strength, and a stronger heart moves more blood with each beat (this is called stroke volume), meaning you can do the same amount of work with less impact on your heart.
I must admit I definitely feel lost without my heart rate monitor when training (I’m a numbers person) but they aren’t crucial for everyone – listening to your body works just as well!
Lucy MillerLucy Miller is a fitness and nutrition advisor, and Fitness Editor at Health & Fitness Magazine www.womensfitness.co.uk). She holds fitness qualifications from NASM Training and Premier Training International.
Read her biography