The human heart in an adult male beats an average of 60 times per minute at rest, and the average adult female's heart rate is 10 to 20 percent higher. Exercise causes the heart muscle to grow bigger and stronger, and the average resting heart rate drops down a bit. A low resting heart rate, and a slow rise of the heart rate under strain is an indication of a person whose body is in good condition.
The use of a heart rate monitor is recommended when seeking to strengthen your heart muscle or to burn off extra calories so you can stay in the proper heart rate zone to reach the desired outcome. Most casual athletes aren't aware of this and end up working their bodies too hard. In doing so they fail to achieve the desired result. Others work out consistently, but fail to get their heart rate high enough to gain the benefits possible when a correct heart rate is achieved.
To meet fitness goals, one needs to exercise at the right intensity, and heart rate is the only accurate measurement of this intensity or exertion level.
Any form of physical activity can be used to elevate your heart rate, and a heart rate monitor will continuously apprise you of your accurate heart rate and allow you to work at the right intensity to keep your heart rate where you want it. In this way you will be able to achieve the greatest possible gain from your time spent exercising.
To successfully begin cardio training, you need to determine your maximum heart rate. The safest and most accurate way to do so is in a doctor-controlled test where you are pushed to your exhaustion limit. There are also several simple formulas that can be used to estimate maximum target heart rate with a margin of error of plus or minus 10 to 15 beats per minute. The most commonly used formula is 208 beats per minute minus 0.7 x age. As an example, a 30 old's maximum heart rate would be calculated as 208 beats per minute minus .7 X 30 or 208 minus 21 equals 187 maximum beats per minute. Using the maximum variance of 15 beats per minute, that range would be as broad as 187 minus 15 to 187 plus 15 or a total range of from 172 to 202 beats per minute. Your personal calculated range should be verified by your doctor before you begin training.
Once your maximum heart rate is verified, you can determine your training heart rate target zone at 70 to 90 percent of your maximum, depending upon what you wish to accomplish. Training at a heart rate below 70% of maximum will only lead to aerobic capacity gains for those who are in poor condition and is fine for those seeking to burn calories and increase their metabolic rate. At the start of your training, maintaining a rate of just 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate will help you improve your physical conditioning. Training at more that 90% of your maximum heart rate has not been shown to improve aerobic capacity.
One aspect of exercise that comes into play for those attempting to lose weight is total energy consumption. A high level of energy consumption (high metabolic rate) can be achieved by using short exercise sessions at a high intensity and heart rate, or longer sessions at a lower intensity and heart rate. Note: a lower heart rate is usually use to lose weight as the average person trying to lose weight is in a poorer physical condition that will not support high intensity workouts. As fitness fitness improves, intensity can be increased.
Any of the several heart rate monitors listed above on this page will help you to reach your fitness and weight loss goals.