Heart rate monitors and weight loss

Heart Rate Monitors and weight loss

It's not only athletes that benefit from using heart rate monitors. No matter who we are, if we have weight loss goals and want to improve our fitness, a heart rate monitor can be a great asset.

This article explains what heart rate monitors are, what they do, their benefits, how to use them and provides a basic guide to weight loss and improving our fitness with them. Finally, we'll give you a general guide to heart rate monitor prices in Australia.

What is a Heart Rate Monitor?

A heart rate monitor measures and displays how fast our heart is beating per minute and is normally made up of 2 parts, a special watch and chest strap.

The chest strap detects electronic signals our heart makes when it beats and transmits this information wirelessly to the watch.

Because modern heart rate monitors are almost as accurate as the EKG machines used in hospitals (at a fraction of the cost), they are the best and most accurate way for most of us to measure our heart rate.

The benefits of using a heart rate monitor

The most significant benefits of using a heart rate monitor are that they help us:

  • Stop exercising too hard
  • Stop exercising too easily
  • Monitor our fitness level
  • Motivate us
  • Achieve our goals faster and safer
  • Plan our workouts
  • To exercise more efficient and effective
  • Train at our own ideal pace

In other words, heart rate monitors act like a personal trainer who comes with us wherever we go.

How to use a heart rate monitor

One of the great things about personal heart rate monitors is that they are so easy to use.

Here are some basics about using a heart rate monitor watch and strap:

The Strap

The strap that sends signals to the watch-like receiver is worn around our chest against the skin.

This strap has a plastic section that is positioned near the bottom of our rib cage.

To help women wear this strap correctly and comfortably, there are optional sports bras available that are designed specifically to accommodate this strap.

The wrist monitor

Although the features of individual heart rate monitors can vary considerably, all models should have the following:

  • A lower heart rate setting
  • An upper heart rate setting
  • An automatic alarm telling us when our heart is beating outside the limits set
  • A stopwatch with an alarm

Using the wrist monitor is simply a case of setting the target heart rate zone in which we want to exercise by adjusting the lower and upper heart rate settings.

For example, let's assume we want to exercise at an intensity equal to 60 to 70% of our maximum heart rate and let's assume our maximum heart rate is 180 (to calculate your maximum heart rate use the equation 220 - age = maximum heart rate).

Based on the above, our target heart rate zone is between 108 and 126 beats per minute (180 x 60% = 108 and 180 x 70% = 126).

(To calculate your target heart rate zone at a range of intensities visit our Target Heart Rate Calculator).

Now we have our lower and upper target heart rates, we simply set the monitor's lower target heart rate setting to 108 and its upper target heart rate setting to 126 and we're ready to go.

With these limits set, when we start exercising the watch displays our heart rate and sounds off an alarm until our heart is beating between 108 and 126 beats per minute.

If our heart begins beating below or above these limits during our exercise session the monitor will start beeping again until we get our hearts back in the zone by speeding up or slowing down.

Simple!

If the monitor has a stopwatch, we can use this to set our total exercise time or set time intervals that we can use during exercise.

A basic guide to weight loss with a heart rate monitor

If weight loss is our goal, heart rate monitors can make sure we're exercising at a level that emphasizes fat burning.

Often, many of us exercising for weight loss push ourselves too hard, which may not only be counter-productive to fat burning but also may be dangerous and is often the reason that many of us give up on exercise altogether before we've started to see and enjoy its benefits.

For optimum weight loss, it is best to work out in a target heart rate zone that is between 60 and 70% of our maximum heart rate for between 30 to 60 minutes, 3 to 7 days per week. If we're new to exercise or unfit, we may want to start exercising between 50 and 60% of our maximum heart rate until we build up our fitness and confidence.

Once we begin working out in a zone that is comfortable for us, it becomes easier to increase the time we work out in our zone and maintain our exercise program longer.

If you are just beginning a new exercise program remember to always consult your doctor first.

A basic guide to improving fitness with a heart rate monitor

If our goal is to become fitter and healthier, it is best to exercise at a heart rate that is between 70 and 80% of our maximum for between 30 to 60 minutes, 3 to 5 days per week.

If we're fairly new to exercising at this intensity, we may want to exercise in a target heart rate zone that is between 60 and 70% of our maximum until we build up our fitness and confidence.

Tracking our fitness progress

In addition to helping us to workout in the ideal zone for our goals and current level of fitness, heart rate monitors can help us track our fitness progress.

They do this by helping us track three of the key indicators of improved cardiovascular health:

  1. Heart Rate Recovery or how quickly our heart rate returns to normal after exercise. The quicker it returns to normal after exercise, the better.
  2. How long it takes to reach our target heart rate zone - the longer it takes the better.
  3. Our resting heart rate. As our fitness improves, our resting heart rate gradually decreases because our heart is stronger and pumps more blood per beat.

Heart Rate Monitor Prices in Australia

Generally speaking, heart rate monitors are relatively inexpensive. Although the prices among brands and individual models can vary considerably, you typically pay more for better quality and more sophisticated features.

One of the most popular brands of heart rate monitors in Australia is Polar.

If weight loss is your goal and you just want a heart rate monitor to keep you in the fat burning zone, a basic fitness model retailing for around $150.00 should suit you.

For those of us who would like more than just the basic features, other Polar fitness models with lots features cost between $200 and $300.

In addition to general fitness models, Polar offers ranges of heart rate monitors especially for running, cycling and weight loss (called the Weight Management range which retails for between $300 and $400).

While I've owned a Polar heart rate monitor for years and use it every time I go walking, jogging or cycling, our friends at Polar Australia were kind enough to lend us their top of the range Weight Management heart rate monitor ( model WM42 - $399) for a couple of weeks to find what great features it has for those of us with weight loss goals.

While we can't do justice to our experience with the Polar WM42 within this article, you can read all about it when we publish our findings.

Conclusion

It's not only athletes that benefit from using heart rate monitors. No matter who we are, if we have weight loss goals and want to improve our fitness, a heart rate monitor can be a great asset.

This article explained what heart rate monitors are, what they do, what benefits they bring, how to use them and provided a basic guide to weight loss and improving our fitness with a heart rate monitor. Finally, we gave you a general guide to heart rate monitor prices in Australia.

Of all the benefits that heart rate monitors provide, we think the fact that they stop us from working too hard, teach us how to exercise at the correct intensity and help motivate us are the most important and make them a great investment in our health.

For anyone wanting to achieve weight loss and/or improve their fitness, we highly recommended them.

If you would like to purchase a heart rate monitor or know a little more about the options available, you'll find an exercise equipment retailer with a wide range of heart rate monitor choices close by in our exercise equipment business directory.

Good luck with your weight loss and thanks for visiting weightloss.com.au.

Copyright Ultimate Weightloss.

This article was written by Scott Haywood.

Scott is the editor of weightloss.com.au. Scott has developed an expertise in fitness and nutrition, and their roles in weight loss, which led him to launch weightloss.com.au in 2005. Today, weightloss.com.au provides weight loss and fitness information, including hundreds of healthy recipes, weight loss tools and tips, articles, and more, to millions of people around the world, helping them to lead happier, healthier, lives.

You can follow Scott on Google+ for more interesting articles.

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