Is it really that important to check your pulse rate while exercising? A lot of people fail to do this as they’re working out which oftentimes leads to them pushing their bodies harder than they should. Checking your heart rate during exercise will tell you how hard your heart is working. Remember, cardio is about breaking a sweat and getting all of your muscles working, especially your heart.
Let’s look a little deeper into why it’s beneficial to keep an eye on your heart rate throughout your cardio exercises.
The Pros of Monitoring Your Heart Rate
There are three main reasons why heart rate monitoring is a good practice during workouts:
- Improves effectiveness: If you could get the results you want in less time, wouldn’t you want to know? Or what if you thought you were doing your best, but in fact weren’t and you consequently witnessed lackluster results? By working out to your target heart rate zone you will ensure you’re getting the most effective workout possible. As a rule of thumb, you should remain in your target heart rate range for at least 20 to 30 minutes.
- Ensures safety: The intensity of your workout is key to their effectiveness, but it’s also important for safety as well. You don’t want to overexert yourself, especially if you’re older or have a heart condition. There is a target heart rate range you should stay within based on your age, weight and physical fitness.
- Enhance your durability: As the weeks go on, you will see that you can push yourself further and further, without increasing your heart rate. This is how your heart and lungs grow stronger. Plus, seeing your progress will also help keep you motivated.
What You’re Tracking
There are three different heart rates you should be tracking during your cardio workouts.
Your resting heart rate is how fast your heart is beating while you’re sitting or asleep. This indicates your cardio fitness level. Most people have a resting heart rate between 15 and 20 beats per minute slower than their normal heart rate while they are more active during the day. The more fit you are, the lower your resting heart rate will be. The best time to check you heart rate is when you first wake up – simply time it for one minute.
Your working, or active, heart rate indicates how hard your heart is working while you are engaged in physical activity. The idea is to raise your heart rate during workouts, but not dangerously high as you are straining your heart. You can work to gradually raise your heart rate and then sustain it for 20 to 30 minutes.
You should use a chart to determine your working heart rate range and stay somewhere in the middle. If you find it is too high, then reduce the intensity of your workout. You can check this by timing your heart rate for six seconds and then multiplying it by six to find the beats per minute.
Once you’ve completed your workout, wait five or six minutes and then check for your recovery heart rate. To do this, measure your heart rate for 15 seconds and multiply it by four to get the beats per minute. Your heart rate shouldn’t be above 120 beats per minutes. If it is, then you need to reduce your workout intensity.