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Fitness Training With Heart Rate Monitors

written by: Isabel Prontes • edited by: Cheryl Gabbert • updated: 3/24/2011

Everyone knows that cardiovascular health is extremely important, but how can you truly be sure that your fitness routine is effectively targeting your heart? The answer is a heart rate monitor. This device can accurately tell you just how good a workout your heart is really getting.

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    Maximum Heart Rate

    The most strenuous exercise should typically fall between 75 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. You can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from the number 220. For example, if you are 50 years old, your maximum heart rate would be (220-50) 170 beats per minute. The younger you are, the higher your maximum heart rate will be. By using a heart rate monitor, you will be able to know exactly where your current level of activity falls.

    Image Credit to: http://www.flickr.com/photos/93852598@N00/297671536/ 

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    Zone Training

    Heart rate monitors keep you aware of your current heart rate level at all times. If you are looking to burn fat or get an aerobic workout, your device will tell you whether or not you are currently in a fat burning or aerobic zone. This prevents you from mindlessly performing your workout routine or just going through the motions. Fitness training with heart rate monitors can keep you motivated toward your health goals.

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    Calorie Counting

    Most heart rate monitor models will provide you with an accurate estimate of how many calories you have burned throughout the duration of your workout. This knowledge is vital to any diet and exercise plan. You can track both how many calories you will burn per hour at your current pace, as well as your total calories burned per workout. Some heart rate monitors have a memory function that will allow you to save details of your last several workouts.

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    Balance

    It is very important to maintain balance with any fitness routine. The more strenuous the exercise and the longer the duration, the more calories you will burn and the harder you will be working your heart muscle. However, this kind of stress on the body can also lead to injury if you are not careful. Therefore, it is important to maintain a balance between light, moderate and vigorous workout intensity. Your heart rate monitor can help you to correctly gauge and interpret the intensity level of your workouts. When starting a new exercise regimen, be sure to build up the intensity level of your workout gradually, over a period of time. Consult your physician and discuss the proper goals for your body's particular needs. By doing so, you will be confident that you are not under or overexerting your body.

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    Rehabilitation

    A heart rate monitor can be useful as a rehabilitation aid. Patients who have had a cardiac episode or have suffered from a recent illness can successfully monitor their heart rates to ensure a gradual return to proper cardiovascular health. Fitness training with a heart rate monitor will allow you to be confident that your workouts are in a safe zone that is appropriate for your heart's current health condition.

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    References

    Mayo Clinic: Exercise Intensity: Why It Matters, How It's Measured

    Northwest Runner: Training and Racing With a Heart Tate Monitor