Wednesday, 13 November 2013 10:30

Wearing a Heart Rate Monitor to Measure Exercise Intensity

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Wearing a Heart Rate Monitor to Measure Exercise Intensity




Julie has decided to start an exercise program but she doesn’t know where to start. Julie is 15 years of age and wants to improve her fitness level but doesn’t know how hard she should work and what her heat rate should be when she is exercising?


Wearing a heart rate monitor is a great way to measure how hard the heart is working during physical activity. A heart rate monitor can vary depending on the type of device you want to use. You can use a chest strap model which consists of a chest strap that fastens around the chest and has a wrist-watch that receives wireless heart rate data. The second option available is a finger sensor model which requires the touch of a finger to a sensor pad to activate your heart rate.








What Does a Heart Rate Monitor Do?


A heart rate monitor measures your optimal heart rate target level for the goal that you would like to achieve. In other words, a heart rate monitor is your pacer, letting you know when you need to exercise harder or exercise easier to get the best results out of your training program.

For Julie to improve her fitness level, she could use a heart rate monitor to guide her exercise intensity to ensure that she is working at the right level to achieve her maximum fitness results.

How do you calculate your Optimal Level of Exercise intensity?

The optimal heart rate target level is a percentage range calculated from your maximum heart rate to show you the level of intensity that you should be exercising at. Various formulas can be used to calculate this heart rate level.

The first formula which is also the easiest formula to remember and is used by most fitness people is 220 – age * the percentage rate that you would like to work at: For example let’s say that you are 15 years old and you want to lose weight. For weight loss it is suggested that you train at 65% - 75% of your maximum heart rate. Using this simple formula you would calculate the following:

  • 220 – age (15) * 75% = 153 beats per minute


The second formula known as the Karvonen Formula is a little bit more complex but is a more accurate measurement of your optimal heart rate target. The karvonen formula is calculated as follows:


  • 220 - age - your resting heart rate * % heart rate that you would like to work at + resting heart rate

It should be noted before we use the same example above; that you’re resting heart rate is usually calculated first thing in the morning by counting your pulse in the throat or on your wrist over a 60 second period. Using 65 beats per minute for your resting hear rate you would calculate the following:


  • 220 – 15 - 65 (resting heart rate measurement over 60 seconds) * 75% + 65 = 170 beats per minute.


You will notice that the karvonen formula provides a measurement which is higher than the other formula displayed above. This is because your resting heart rate has been added to the equation.

What are the Different Exercise Zones?

The American Heart Association offers the following guidelines which shows you the different exercise zones that you can train in.

  • Endurance (60%–70%): Considered ideal for endurance and weight-loss programs. Develops fitness level. The body learns to use stored fat as fuel.
  • Aerobic (70%–80%): Ideal for overall cardiovascular fitness. The body burns mostly fat and carbohydrates in this zone.
  • Anaerobic (80%–90%): Used for interval workouts or consistent speed. At this zone, your breathing will be heavy and your muscles tired.


In summary Julie should exercise at 70-80% of her maximum heart rate to improve her fitness level.

Read 3524 times Last modified on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 10:47

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