Whether you are a serious athlete in training for your next triathlon or a casual exercise enthusiast seeking to enhance your workout experience, a heart rate monitor is your ticket to success.  Not only will monitoring your heart rate allow for more beneficial training experiences, but it will also allow you to become attuned to your own body and its reactions to various types of exercise and stress.


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Electronic heart rate monitors may seem to be a comparatively “new-fangled” technology to some, but it’s long been known that the body most efficiently and effectively train when your heart rate is at a certain level, called your heart rate training zone.  Your maximum heart rate is calculated based upon your age and the zone of training you are engaged in – warm up, fat burning, endurance or performance.


While in the warm up zone, your heart rate should only measure at 50-60% of your individually calculated maximum.  While in this zone, your body is doing just as the name suggests – preparing to enter into more strenuous physical training.  The fat burning zone, where you should reach 60-70% of your maximum heart rate, allows your body to successfully burn calories faster.  During aerobic activity, your will achieve 70-80% of your maximum heart rate while in the endurance zone.  Exercise in this zone helps to strengthen your heart and improve your respiration.  Finally, the performance zone, where your heart rate will equal 80-90% of your maximum, allows effective calorie burning while decreasing exercise-related fatigue.  A fifth zone, representing maximum effort, should only be entered for shorter periods of time and if you are in peak shape.


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You can monitor your heart rate through a variety of methods.  You may notice at your gym that some cardiovascular machines have built in heart rate monitors – you simply place your hands on metal grips for a certain length of time at various intervals.  If these are unavailable or you a seeking a more personal alternative, a variety of manufacturers sell heart rate monitors that you can wear on our body and that will continuously display your heart rate.  This is the best way to monitor your workout or your performance in an athletic event!  With the ability to constantly monitor your heart rate, you will instantly know if you need to step up your activity – or scale it back.  A heart rate monitor may also provide forewarning to cardiovascular problems.  For instance, if your heart rate is in the endurance zone after only two minutes at the lowest level on the elliptical machine, you should speak with your doctor about the overall health of your heart.  If, conversely, your heart rate is at a warm up level after 10 minutes of what you consider to be intense stationary bike riding, you’ve been given a clue that you may need to find a more challenging activity to burn calories, or step-up your efforts on the bike.


Monitoring your heart rate is also a beneficial tool in measuring your progress while training for an athletic event or working to get into better shape.  Marathon runners monitor their heart rate as a pacing tool during a race – if they can maintain a consistent heart rate, there is a better chance for maintaining the necessary level of motivation and energy to not only finish the race, but win as well.  The casual exercise nut will be able to plot futures workouts using data from this monitoring. This puts you on the path to better health and success through goal achievement within your workouts.


Using a heart rate monitor can improve your athletic prowess, enhance your workouts and give warning to possible cardiovascular problems.  For these benefits and many more, you should always choose to wear a heart rate monitor while exercising, training and competing.




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