When you go to a gym to work out, you might notice that nearly every piece of cardio equipment has a heart rate monitor built in. You may also see gym patrons avidly checking their heart rates throughout their workouts, but is this kind of monitoring really necessary? There are many different schools of thought on how much your heart rate matters when it comes to fitness, so let’s take a look at the facts to clear up any misconceptions on the subject.
The truth of your resting heart rate
There is a prevalent idea that individuals with a lower resting heart rate are in better shape than people who have a more rapid resting heart rate. However, a normal resting heart rate has a range between 60 and 90 beats per minute. Exercising regularly may lower your resting heart rate, but if you naturally have a higher resting rate closer to 90 beats per minute, there may be people who are less fit than you but have a lower resting heart rate. The reality is that you don’t need your heart to tell you how fit you are. If you exercise regularly, you will know that the activity is paying off because of much more noticeable signs like higher endurance, increased strength, and weight loss.
Reasons to monitor your heart rate during exercise
Unless you have a heart condition that requires you to keep your heart rate down, there is actually little benefit to monitoring your heart rate during exercise. Once you get moving, your heart rate will go up, whether you are watching it or not. If you are under the assumption that more moderate exercise has a higher payoff for weight loss than vigorous exercise, remember that calories burned is the most important factor in weight loss. You might burn more calories per minute when your heart rate is higher, but you will also have less stamina to continue the workout. Therefore, you may have more success with a longer workout at a more moderate pace. What it all comes down to is personal preference. If you are more motivated to exercise with shorter workouts, keep the intensity high and get done faster.
If you are still not sure how much heart rate monitoring you need to exercise safely, the best strategy is to talk to a doctor about your personal needs.