Get the Most From Cardio: Heart Rate Monitoring

Cardio heart rate monitoring will give you a good idea of how hard to push yourself. Many workout gurus holler “no pain, no gain,” but this propaganda may be causing you to work harder than is necessary.

Whys and How’s of Cardio Heart Rate Monitoring

Determining your resting heart rate is the first step. This is the number of times your heart beats in one minute while resting. This will give you something to compare with in the months to come to show your progress. People new to exercising, may find their resting heart beat as high as 90 beats per minute, but after a month or two, you will notice a drop in that figure by as much as 10 to 20 beats per minute.

Several ways you can take your pulse manually include one by resting your index and middle fingertips gently on the other wrist just below the bottom of the thumb. Count beats for one minute or for 30 seconds then multiply by two. Another way is to place your middle and index fingers on your neck just underneath the ear, then move fingers down just under the jawbone, pressing gently and count the beats for one minute or for 30 seconds and multiply by two. The most accurate is to use a heart rate monitor worn either on the wrist or on the chest, making it easily accessible during work out. Any of these methods are easy to do during cardio workouts–by just slowing down for the 30 seconds to take your pulse, or pause for 30 seconds, this insures you are at your target heart rate.

What is Your Target Heart Rate?

Experts say for you to lose weight you should do cardio workouts at your target heart rate. To find this number subtract your age from 226 for women or 220 for men (example: 226 – 53 = 173 this would be your maximum heart rate for a 53-year-old woman; then multiply that number by .50 which equals 86). The number .50 means 50 percent so you are multiplying 173 X 50 percent or .50, which is one half of your maximum heart rate (this is a good place for beginners). Therefore, for a 53-year-old woman, 86 beats per minute would be her target heart rate to insure she gets a good cardio workout and loses weight.

If you are already in good shape and want to work out at 60 or 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, just change the .50 to .60 or .70.

It is easier during workouts to count your heartbeat for just 15 seconds, and then multiply it by 4. For our example, you would divide 86 by 4 which equals 21, so if during workouts you count 21 beats per 15 seconds, you will be sure you are hitting your target heart rate.

Getting the Most From Your Cardio Workout

There are numerous choices for which cardio exercises are the most effective. The following are just a few calorie blasting cardio exercises to help you lose weight, get in shape and have a stronger heart. By doing all these exercises at your target heart rate, you will lose weight and be healthier.

  • Running is one of the best cardio workouts you can do. No special equipment is required, except for a good pair of running shoes. You can run anywhere, and if you add hills and sprints, you can burn some serious calories. If you are new to running, be careful to protect your knees and ankles, and be sure to see your doctor first.
  • Cycling, whether indoor or outdoor, gives you a great workout while strengthening your legs and increasing your endurance. Moreover, you will burn many calories.
  • Swimming is by the best full body exercise you can possibly do. Virtually every part of your body is involved in this low impact, calorie-burning workout.

Experts recommend that you get 20 minutes of high intensity cardio at least three times per week if possible and your health condition permits. Mornings are best to give you energy throughout the day. Always speak with your doctor before beginning any exercise routine.


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