Heart rate monitors work by detecting the electrical current generated by each heartbeat, much like the electrocardiograms used by cardiologists. The harder you work, the faster your heart will beat. While there are several different types of monitors available, the most accurate include an electrode transmitter worn on a band around your chest. The transmitter sends data to the receiver, usually a watch-like device worn on your wrist. Whether you are exercising to lose weight or to improve your overall physical fitness, a heart rate monitor can help you achieve your goals with instant feedback and an accurate assessment of your physical exertion. Consider these reasons to wear one on your next workout.
1. A heart rate monitor will enable you to calculate calories burned more accurately. As you may recall from previous blog posts, you must create a deficit of 3500 calories in order to lose one pound. If you want to lose one pound each week, you can do it by burning 500 calories a day through exercise. While there are numerous resources online where you can look up typical activities and find estimated calorie expenditures, none are as accurate as those you will get from your heart rate monitor. It takes into account your sex, age, weight and level of exertion, something online calculators do not.
2. A heart rate monitor will tell you how hard you are working. To achieve maximum results for weight loss or physical fitness, you need to exercise at a target heart rate. Some studies have shown that a body burns fat most efficiently during aerobic exercise –typically 40 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. Gauging whether you’re exercising hard enough or too hard is difficult on your own –but it’s easy for your heart rate monitor.
3. If you have health issues, a heart rate monitor can help you avoid overexertion. Before you begin any exercise program, have a health evaluation performed by your physician. If you’re new to exercise, are extremely overweight, or suffer from heart problems, your doctor my advise you to exercise at a lower percentage of your maximum heart rate. On some monitors, you can program high and low settings. The device will sound an alarm if your heart rate goes above the beats per minute specified.
You can buy a heart rate monitor complete with chest strap for as little as $35, though pricier versions tend to come with more bells and whistles. Whether you wear a basic model or a high-end brand with GPS and synching functions, monitoring your heart rate can be an effective tool in your weight loss arsenal.