Knowledge is Power – Monitoring your Heart Rate during Exercise

The majority of us have a daily struggle with maintaining a healthy exercise routine. It is all too easy to make excuses to avoid the gym. If you had a tool that would allow you to maximize the time that you spend at the gym, would you be more inclined to go? Wearing a heart rate monitor while working out is on the rise in the fitness world, and is proving to be a powerful and intelligent tool to support all levels of fitness.

The basic science behind gyms utilizing heart rate monitors, such as Orangetheory Fitness, is based on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). The goal in an hour class is to spend a minimum of 12 or more minutes using 84%+ of your individual maximum heart rate. This produces an oxygen deficit, known as the “after-burn” effect, in which the body continues to need oxygen at a higher rate than before the exercise began, burning 200-400 additional calories 24-36 hours after the workout.

Knowing the science behind your workout and being able to maximize the time you spend at the gym; away from your family, job and necessary errands, can be highly motivational for some people. Time is precious, and knowing that your workout will benefit you for hours after you’ve left the gym is important. By visually seeing your heart rate, percentage of max heart rate and calories burned throughout your workout you are able to push yourself harder than you ever thought possible. What if your fitness goal is not the same as a healthy young adult? Wearing a heart rate monitor can also provide peace of mind to those who may not want to put too much exertion on their heart. If you have had heart health issues in the past or you are simply out of shape, you may be hesitant to jump back into a workout routine that could put you and your health in jeopardy. You may be pregnant and concerned about the stress over exertion in the gym might put on the baby, but want to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Although informing your trainer of any health history is key, being able to see your real time heart rate gives you more control and can lessen the anxiety that may have been holding you back. Due to a variety of physiological and genetic differences, it takes a different level of intensity to get our hearts pumping at an accelerated rate. While you may be running on the treadmill to reach 84% of your max heart rate, I may be power walking at an incline and also reach 84% of my max heart rate. Keep in mind that you don’t need a gym to utilize a heart rate monitor because – There’s an app for that! There are several apps that allow you to track your workout information right from your phone.

Whatever your fitness goals, knowledge is power. Having more information to either maximize your workout or ensure that you are not overexerting your heart during a workout can be useful information. There is not a cookie cutter health and fitness plan that works for everybody, but everybody has the right to live a healthier and happier lifestyle.