Heart Rate Monitors are nifty little electronic devices that give a continuous reading of your heart rate. Typically, you strap a small belt around your upper chest which has device that picks up your heart rate and then transmits it to a wristwatch-like device that gives a digital readout.
A basic heart rate monitor can be had for around $60. More expensive models have some bells and whistles included, which you may or may not find worthwhile.
If you're serious about a long term cardiovascular training program, then the ease of use and increased accuracy of a heart rate monitor justifies spending a little money.
Heart Rates - an objective way of guiding workout intensity:
The first step in setting up a seriouse program for the cardiovascular (CV) exercise is determining how rapid a heart rate (beats per minute) you should achieve during your CV workout. Over the years, a lot of research has gone into this. The results indicate that people should raise their heart rate level to 60 to 80 percent of their maximum heart rate for at least 20 minutes, to achieve a cardiovascular conditioning effect.
Training above an 80 percent level gets into the area of diminishing returns and is normally worthwhile only for competitive athletes. A person who is out of shape and just starting a CV conditioning program should work around the 50 or 60 percent level and slowly move up over a number of months. An already fit person would aim at 80 percent.
Everybody has their own individual profile of relevant heart rates. Resting heart rate is the lowest rate you normally achieve. Usually, your heart beats slowest when you wake up in the morning after a night of physical and mental inactivity. Levels around 60 or 70 are common, with people in good condition often reading in the 40's or 50's.
Maximum heart rate is the fastest your heart is capable of beating. It's difficult to push yourself to a true maximum - it takes intense physical activity. Normal heart rate is the span that your heart works at during usual daily activities.
So how do you determine the heart rate you personally should achieve during a CV workout?
Estimating maximum heart rates
A very heneralized method for extimating an individual's maximum heart rate is to just use the person's age in the formula:
Estimated max heart rate =208 - (0.7 X age)
>For example : if somebody is 40 years old, then according to this formula, the estimated max heart rate is 180 beats per minute (BPM).
>The CV workout intensity span for this person is between 60 and 80 percent of 180, which is 108 to 144 BPM.
Another excellent source of finding your Target Heart Ratecan be found at DiscoveryHealth. com. Just follow the links to the calculators, then to Target Heart Rate and you'll have your rate in seconds.
Here are some ways to define your overall fitness:
Poor shape: You exercise litlle or not at all, or you have not exercised regularly during the last 8 weeks.
Average shape: You walk a mile or more 3 days a week, or participate in any aerobic activity 3 times every week for 20 minutes.
Good shape: You exercise regularly for cumulatively more than 1 hour a week, or you walk or run at least 5 miles a week.
Heart rate monitors are an excellent tool to increase the efficiency and accuracy of your workouts. Don't waste time you don't have! Get a heart rate monitor and hit the target!
Ref: The Fitness Habit Website