One of the most important aspects of physical fitness is your heart rate. A strong heart means health, long life, and greatly increased aerobic endurance. This has led in recent decades to the development of heart-based exercise routines – an activity greatly aided by the modern heart rate monitor.
Heart rate monitors usually come in the form of a large watch, and do everything from measure calories burned to your overall average heart rate for a workout. Heart rate monitors are useful for a number of purposes, including regulating your training regime and monitoring your overall fitness level. On a run, for instance, you can program your heart rate monitor to beep when your overall heart rate drops below a certain level, urging you to push a little harder to stay at that optimum heart rate.
Of course, a heart rate monitor is useless if you don’t know how to use the data it gives you. One of the most useful statistics you can know about yourself is your Max Heart Rate (MHR), which is the fastest rate at which your heart beats. This statistic is independent of your level of fitness and depends primarily on age. You can estimate your MHR by subtracting your age from the number 220 (for men) or from 226 (for women). You should also know your resting heart rate (RHR), which will actually be slower the more fit you are. A good way to find this is to strap on your heart rate monitor as soon as you wake up, before you even get out of bed – the lowest pulse is your RHR. Once you start to develop a training program, you’ll use these two numbers to determine a good training regime. Heart rate monitors are useful for all sorts of fitness and training activities – make sure you know how to use them and they will be invaluable.