Guest Author - Deborah Crawford
Would a heart rate monitor help you in your walking? If you have any heart problems, I hope you already use one. But, even if you are heart-healthy, you can benefit from a heart rate monitor.
There is some controversy about how to accurately determine target heart rates, but for many years, a common, easy formula has been recommended. Itís the one you will see on most gym fitness machines and the one you read about most. You subtract your age from 220, then multiply the result by 60 and then by 85 to determine your aerobic workout zone.
178 X 60=107
178 X 85 = 151
Thus, if you are 42 years old, you should work out for at least 20 minutes, three times a week (the minimum recommendation for cardio fitness or endurance) with your heart in the target range of 107 to 151.
The Mayo Clinic has an easy online target heart rate calculator you can use, tooóno math involved! If you have chronic health conditions, this calculator adjusts your target down by a few beats per minute.
As usual, if you do have a health condition, have not exercised in awhile, or are over 50, please get your doctorís okay before doing any strenuous activity.
Once you know your target heart rate, you can stop exercising and manually take your pulse to determine if you are in your target zone. Or, you can get a heart rate monitor to do it easily and accurately for you.
I hate stopping when Iím exercising (seem to lose momentum!) and I think I might not be very accurate counting heartbeats, so I bought a heart rate monitor last year. It is so much easier and probably far more accurate.
The heart rate monitor consists of a band that goes around your chest (right under your bra strap if youíre a woman), and a watch that communicates with the strap. You can set the watch to beep if you are working under or over your targeted zone, too.
The one I bought was easy to program, easy to wear and truly helped me quite a bit. I started using it in the heat of summer and found I was walking way to fast. No wonder I was exhausted! I also learned better how to know when I was working out at the right pace, so I no longer wear it every time I walk, but occasionally, Iíll get it out to check myself, especially when change my routine. Walking hills or on a treadmill or outdoors or indoors does make a difference and itís good to be able to see your results numerically!
And, again, I highly recommend a heart rate monitor if you have any health problem that could affect your heart (after you check with your doctor.)
You can buy heart rate monitors locally, or you can order one online (I think Amazon is a bit cheaper than the stores in my area). They also come in a wide variety of price ranges, with $60--$80 being about average.
The Polar model I use is available on Amazon.com:
Gift Tip: Heart rate monitors are great gifts for the walkers on your "nice" list, too!