Exercise! Love it or hate it, let's motivate each other to just DO IT!

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Old 03-15-2008, 02:03 PM   #1  
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Default Questions about heart monitor

I'm a little confused on how heart monitors work and how you know what your target heart rate is. I just joined a gym this past week primarily for the weight machines but I do not have a heart monitor for myself and I'm just a little confused on how having one might benefit me and how it works. Any help in explaining this to me in a dumbed down version would be really appreciated.

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Old 03-15-2008, 04:29 PM   #2  
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i too would like some help with this topic.
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Old 03-15-2008, 06:59 PM   #3  
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Heart rate is one of the most accurate easily measurable estimates of exertion. Age and gender are the main determinants of max heart rate, the simplified way to estimate your max is to subtract age from 220 if you are male and age from 226 if you are female. There are more complex formulas that involve your resting heart rate as well, but even that is only a prediction, but in my experience it is close enough to get you in the right range. Okay, so once you have determined your maximum heart rate, you can figure out what 60%, 70%, etc. of your max is. Theoretically, if you are working at about 60% you are using fat as your primary fuel source (but don't get too caught up on this, as your overall calorie burn is MUCH more important than the source of your calorie burn). When you are working at 60%-70% of your MHR, you are building your aerobic system, strengthening your heart to some extent, and becoming more fit overall. Higher heart rates of say 70-85% of max burn significantly more calories, you actually increase the size and strength of your heart and lungs, and a lot of other physiological things take place. Simply stated, getting your heart beating in this zone is VERY good for you. Higher than 85% is really uncomfortable, so it cannot be sustained for long, so the benefits are outweighed by the practicality of working at that effort.
Heart rate monitors seem to be most effective for ensuring you are working at a high enough effort while doing cardio or for doing interval training. If you were considering getting one just to wear while weight training, I would sugguest just saving your money because weight training generally doesn't elevate heart rate enough for the monitor to be practical. It can be a great motivator during cardio, though, and some people swear by them, but it all depends on what your goals are and how you plan to use the monitor. Hope that helped a little bit.
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Old 03-15-2008, 09:04 PM   #4  
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I was given a heart rate monitor for Christmas and absolutely love the little bugger - Jordan is right - they're an awesome motivator when you are doing cardio. I have noticed massive improvement in my fitness levels from just having the little reminder on my wrist and pushing that little bit harder.

I have been finding it interesting seeing which activities give me the highest rate - running consistently pushes it up there.

My average during a run is usually 170-175 with the highest being 188.

My average during a Spin class is about 160-165 with the highest being 185 (in a very hard class)

Boxing and combat classes can also max it out but weights...not really.

Strangely enough spinning feels as though it is a much much harder work out but according to my heart rate monitor it's not! Sorry...that was a little bit of a side track :P

You can see how your fitness is improving by how fast your heart rate drops after a work out - the quicker it drops back to normal the stronger your heart and lungs are becoming.
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Old 03-15-2008, 09:14 PM   #5  
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I'm 51 years old, so my monitor says I'm supposed to keep between 120 and 145 which I have no problem getting to within the first few minutes on an old Nordic Track ski machine.

It is a major motivator for me! I don't use it all the time but it is great for intervals.
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Old 03-16-2008, 09:33 PM   #6  
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I love my heart rate monitor. I use it during weights because I do circuit training so I find it particularly helpful there. The key for circuit training is to try and keep your heart rate elevated and this way I can see whenever it drops.

If you get one that counts calories too I find that to be another good source of motivation. It's also more accurate than the cardio machines.
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