Using a Heart Rate Monitor

For an efficient workout to improve fitness, heart rate monitors can help you to establish fitness levels and assist you in aiming higher to achieve increased levels of fitness. To increase the amount of muscle in your body or to tone, heart rate monitors should be performed prior to exercise, during and after your workout.

Polar, Oktos, and Sportsinstruments range of products are leading manufacturers in creating heart rate monitor devices. Knowing your target range or zone allows you to maximise and optimise the benefits of exercise during a given period of time. Target rates and calculators to establish what yours is are available online. There are at least three different rates to consider when training.

Firstly, heart rate monitor must begin with establishing your resting heart rate such as the rate experienced during sleep. It is similar in principle to the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). As fitness increases, this rate decreases as the heart and lungs become stronger and more efficient. The heart can pump more blood around the body with less effort. Lungs can use more oxygen and the limit is called maximum oxygen uptake. This helps with improving endurance levels.

More oxygen entering the blood helps to reduce lactic acid levels so this can so it is possible to sustain an aerobic workout for longer. The usual rate is around 40-100 BPM.

Secondly, exercise heart rate is important to know as this is the rate your heart pumps blood around your body during sustained exercise. The aim is to remain within your target range or zone. This figure is usually between 75% and 85% of your maximum rate.

Thirdly, your maximum heart rate must be found as this is the rate at which blood is pumped around your body at the absolute maximum levels possible, during sustained aerobic exercise. Working out at 100% of your maximum rate pushes you into the anaerobic threshold. These numbers can vary depending on your age and fitness levels. To determine your maximum rate, deduct your age from 220 and multiply your answer by 0.75 and 0.85 to give you the 75% to 85% range. This is the target range or zone to aim to remain in during exercise. This provides the best results for health and fitness and you ideally want to remain within this range whilst performing any kind of cardiovascular (aerobic) activity. Here is where you burn the most fat. If you reach the anaerobic threshold, you'll be in a state whereby no health benefits can be obtained through exercising.

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