How to Monitor Your Heart Rate

Why It’s Important to Track Your Heart Rate

Exercising is not that simple. For you to gain the most out of your workout, it is important to maintain your target heart rate. The target heart rate varies in each individual, and it largely depends on their body’s fitness level and cardiovascular health.

Setting a target heart rate helps the individual to avoid over-exercising or under-exercising, both of which can negatively affect the quality of a workout.

If you are not working out to your body’s full potential, you cannot burn the number of calories required to actually lose weight or build endurance and strength. Those who under-exercise will take a lot longer to see any results.

On the other hand, over-training can also result to a negative effect, and may even be dangerous. Overdoing your workout means you are exercising beyond the limits of your body’s fitness level, which can lead to dehydration and serious injuries if you consistently over-exercise.

To avoid these undesirable situations, it is important to continuously monitor your heart rate throughout your workout. There are a lot of heart rate monitors available on the market right now, and you can also track your heart rate on your own, manually, if you don’t have one at the moment.

How to Track Your Heart Rate Manually

A normal resting heart rate for an adult is between 60 and 100 beats per minute, with athletes typically having a resting heart rate close to 60 beats per minute. A resting heart rate greater than 100 beats per minute on someone who is not an athlete may mean that there is an underlying condition and you a doctor should be consulted.

You can track your heart rate with heart rate monitors with chest straps or armbands, or you can do so manually. Here’s how to do it:

Find your pulse

Place a finger or two on the inside of your wrist, or on the side of your neck where the carotid artery can be found. You will easily be able to find the spot where your pulse is the most intense. (Caution: Do not feel your pulse on both carotid arteries at the same time. This might restrict your blood flow and make you lose consciousness.)

Feel your pulse

You can feel your pulse just by pressing on your wrist or side of your neck firmly, but not too hard. Make sure that you are not applying too much pressure to the point of interfering with the natural rhythm of your pulse.

Count

Count the number of heartbeats you can feel through your skin for 10 seconds. Then, multiply this number by 6.

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Tips

  • Do not use your thumb to feel your pulse, as it can interfere with it.
  • For determining your resting heart rate, sit down and relax first, making sure that your heart rate has returned to normal. Do not feel your pulse after a physical activity.
  • It is best to check your resting heart rate in the morning, just after you have woken up.

Your resting heart rate is not the only one you should determine. Your working heart rate, of course, is just as important. To do this, you have to elevate your heart rate first. Increase your heart rate gradually through a cardiovascular exercise maintained for 20-30 minutes. Then, do the steps above.

The recovery heart rate is best taken 15 seconds into the cooldown phase of your workout, 5 to 6 minutes after your last aerobic activity. Multiply this number by 4, and that is your recovery heart rate, in beats per minute.

The normal recovery heart rate is 120 beats per minute or lower. If yours is higher than 120 beats per minute, that means you should lower your workout intensity level the next time your exercise.

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Exercising Just Right

It is important to train just right for your body’s fitness level. The best way is to begin each workout with any form of cardio – bicycling, running, swimming – and slowly work your way up to your target heart rate.

Exercise equipment like the treadmill, elliptical, and the bike usually have sensors that can help you with monitoring your heart rate and you can take advantage of that if you can’t be bothered to do it manually.

Even more convenient is having your own heart rate monitor and bringing it with you everywhere you go. Most heart rate monitors nowadays come in wrist watch form and even headphones/earbuds.

However, they are not as accurate and reliable as chest straps. Chest straps use the technology of ECG monitors to track your heart rate, so they are more accurate in comparison to other types of HRM that use infrared light to detect electrical activity in your cardiovascular system.