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Benefits of a Heart Rate Monitor

apple watch heart rate monitorGarmin Forerunner 235 heart rate monitor running watch

written by runnergirl training

There are many benefits to wearing a hear rate monitor when exercising. Most fitness and health goals relate to the effort level of the workout. A heart rate monitor (HRM) shows the level of effort that your heart is working. That is important to know in order to reach your health and fitness goals. Read more below!

Why would a heart rate monitor be useful? For a marathoner it is important to know the difference in level effort between a slow run and speed work. A gym-goer might be looking for cardio benefit of keeping a certain heart rate range while circuit training. A post-surgery or post-pregnancy person may need to keep their heart rate under a certain number for a period of time to recover. All of these are common reasons for needing a HRM since heart rate is correlated with exertion level.

A HRM does the following tasks:

Measures level of exertion.
A HRM is similar to the speedometer in a vehicle. It tells you how hard your heart is working. Without that piece of vital information you have no idea how hard your body is working.

Pacing during races
It helps you to gauge your effort mile to mile. If you have a really high heart rate at the start of the race you will know to back off the pace. If you are mindlessly checking off the miles of a long race and see that your heart rate is fairly low then you know to put it more effort to reach the finish line.

Gives data to compare from workout to workout.
Knowing how your heart responds to the demands of training lets you know if you need to decrease, stay at or increase your level of difficulty in training. If you are working on a plyometric program for 6 week and your heart rate continues to be high during those exercises that is an indication to either decrease difficulty or stay at that level for a while to allow your body to adapt. Increasing the training difficulty if your body is struggling to meet those demands can lead to illness or injury.

Prevent over-training
Many fitness-oriented individuals are highly driven & competitive. Taking a few easy days is a challenge for them let alone having rest days. A HRM is a great tool to monitor your body’s recovery by watching your resting heart rate trend overtime. Also, a HRM will show during workouts if you think you are giving a moderate effort but are in fact over-taxing your body. Heart rate zones are great ways to moderate training intensities.

Prevent under-training
This is a less common occurrence compared to over-training but it does happen. You may think you are running a speed workout with 80-90% of maximum effort. However, when checking a HRM you can see that you need to put in more intensity.

Monitor resting heart rate/recovery status
As mentioned above, resting heart rate is a fairly good predictor of the body’s recovery status. If the body is stressed, sick, injured, fatigued, over-trained resting heart rate increase. If you wear your HRM while sleeping it will show the lowest heart rate overnight. Watch that trend over time. If it gradually increase you will know it is time for recovery.

Show dehydration level
When you are dehydrated your resting and exercise heart rate are elevated. Checking your HRM and seeing that will let you know it’s time to hydrate.

See my heart rate monitor & fitness tracker reviews here!


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