You see people in the gym and on the road wearing their HRM, you see them checking their heart rates and monitoring their calorie expenditure, but how does this help if you do not know what to do with the information.

So let’s start from the beginning and of course it all comes down to the benefits of health and wellness. To most it is only about losing weight and getting fitter, but there is so much more to exercising like lowering your cholesterol, it invigorates nervous system, weight bearing exercises are great for our bones and can assist osteoporosis , it makes us feel great through the release of endorphins, and so the list goes on.

In today’s hectic lifestyle we all battle to find the time to look after our health, always on the run grabbing whatever comes our way and making no time to wake up our hearts, so when we do exercise we need to maximize on the time spent- 20 minutes of a focused workout is better than an hour of messing around. By using a HRM we can capitalise on our workout and make the most of that time.

In order for you to understand the benefits of a HRM let me start by explaining ones heart rate.  Your resting heart rate represents the minimum number of heart beast needed to sustain the body. It gives a good indication of how fit you are, or whether you are unwell or over trained.  As you become fitter your heart becomes more efficient at pumping blood around the body, therefore the lower your resting heart rate the fitter you are. In order to check your resting heart rate you need to test  it first thing in the morning on rising, count your heart beat for 1 minute and be sure to do this over at least 3 days and then take the average.

Now let’s move onto our maximum heart rate, this is the maximum number of contractions per minute that your heart can make. The simple, slightly less accurate way to calculate this is to use this equation: MEN =220–age, WOMAN =226–age. There are a few ways of determining a more accurate reading however these are more scientific and require doing a physical test. Your maximum heart rate is the basis for all heart rate zone training because it’s the anchor point around which you set your five heart rate zones.

So what are these five heart rate zones all about? When you train in different zones you get different results. Let’s look at the chart

50%-60% of your max HR Safe, comfortable zone where can get healthier but not fitter, warming up/cooling down zone.
60%-70% of your max HR The fat burning zone, the body uses fat for fuel, 85% of total calories burnt is fat.
70%-80% of your max HR Aerobic phase where you become fitter & can train longer, burn fats & carbs at the same ratio
80%-90% of your max HR Anaerobic phase, get faster & fitter in this zone, insufficient oxygen supply to the body  so can only sustain for maximum an hour odd.
90%-100% of your maximum HR Redline zone, mostly used for interval training for a few minutes at a time only , increase potential for injury in this zone

Understanding what our individual needs are and checking the relevant zone will assist us in achieving those desired results and will help us maximize our training sessions.

What better way to monitor your HR than by using a Garmin Heart Rate Monitor, where you can check out your zones while you are training, set interval training on your watch, see how many calories you are burning , and monitor your HR. If you are a person with a heart condition you can put in an alert to warn you when your heart rate gets too high, or you could even put in an alert if your heart rate is too low and you are under training. Garmin even have a web based facility called Garmin Connect where you can upload your training data, analyse it and set goals- Garmin have a range of fitness devices to suite people with different fitness levels doing different forms of exercise, so whether you are a gym goer, cyclist, kayaker, runner, yogi, etc Garmin can cater for your individual needs.

So go check out your maximum heart rate and work out your zones, and then make the most of your time training with your Garmin fitness device to show you the way.

Mich Letcher –  For Garmin Fitness