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Improve Fitness by Monitoring you Heart Rate Zones

by Robert Harden on January 6, 2009

A heart rate monitor is a device that can be used for measuring the real time heart rate of an individual. There are two basic components of a heart rate monitor; the chest strap and wrist receiver/watch. Heart rate monitors have proved to be a great aid in exercise and workout routines. It allows an individual to maintain a proper balance between their health and exercise routine, thus preventing the occurrence of any injury and/or stress.

Heart rate monitors can improve your level of fitness by monitoring and recording your heart rate as you exercise. With the use of a heart rate monitor you can view your heart rate at a glance and determine the intensity level of your workout. An individual should exercise caution, keeping your heart rate too high, for too long, could result in medical complications. Please make sure you have consulted with your physician before starting any new exercise routine. Your physician will assist you in determining your heart rate zones and the length of time you should exercise in those zones.

In addition to consulting with your doctor, another good rule of thumb for determining your maximum heart rate is subtracting your age from 220. This will be the maximum rate in which you do not want to exceed. Then depending on your fitness goals, you want to determine the “heart rate zone”.

For example, if you are just starting out, you may want to exercise around 50% – 60% of your maximum heart rate. You will want to quickly advance out of this zone, but is a good place to start and evaluate your fitness level.

As you progress and improve, consider 60% – 70% of your maximum heart rate. This is sometimes called a “recovery zone”, and is the beginning of building basic endurance, and starting your aerobic capacity. Later as you are able to increase your heart rate to 70% of your maximum heart rate and beyond, this zone will be the zone you want to return to as you slowly recover from exercising in the higher zones.

If you are looking to improve your overall fitness level, the aerobic zone is around 70% – 80% of your maximum heart rate, and is sometimes called the “aerobic zone”. This zone is where you have the opportunity to develop your cardiovascular system. This zone is a good “fat burning zone” as well.

The “anaerobic zone” is between 80% – 90% of your maximum heart rate. This zone is often used in “interval training”. In interval training, you exercise in this zone for a short period of time, usually one to two minutes. Then you drop your heart rate to the “recovery zone” for a similar amount of time. You would then again repeat this process. Interval training can be used in literally any cardio workout from ellipticals, bicycles, treadmills, etc. Chalene Johnson uses interval training in her newest workout Burn Intervals from ChaLEAN Extreme.

These zones are all great places to start. Then consider three cardiovascular workouts per week, with a duration of approximately 30 minutes. This again will vary by your physicians advice, you fitness level, and your fitness goals, but should be a good place to get started. Monitoring the above mentioned zones would not be possible without your heart rate monitor, which makes it an excellent choice when considering a new fitness program.

You heart is a muscle and while you exercise it gets stronger. During your aerobic or cardiovascular exercise, the muscles in your body are being used extensively for the length of time you workout. As you workout, your muscles will need more oxygen and this is supplied from the lungs through the blood. As your muscles need more oxygen, your heart pumps faster in order to meet the demand of your muscles, and this is when the heart rate monitors come into action. If you are working too hard, your heart and your body may not be able to keep up with the demand you are placing on it. This is cause for alarm, and should be prevented. A heart rate monitor will allow you to monitor your heart, and slow down as necessary to prevent injury. On the other side of this, you can increase your efforts, if you notice you are not working out hard enough, or staying in your “zone”.

Using this device will not only improve your fitness and prevent injury, but it will also help you maintain proper health.

The other benefits of a heart rate monitor are as follows:

- Improves your level of fitness by monitoring your heart rate. Monitoring your heart rate keeps you in the “zone”.

- Prevents injury by monitoring your heart rate, if your heart rate climbs too high, you can slow down accordingly.

- It helps in monitoring you overall level of fitness. You can see improvements with time, and makes your progress measurable.

- It motivates and helps us with better performance.

- It makes your goals easily achievable and measurable.

- Most heart rate monitors will count the calories burned during exercise, especially important if you are counting calories to lose weight.

- It allows for effective and efficient exercise.


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