What you need to know before shopping for a heart rate monitor. By Mavis Teo and Estelle Low
A heart rate monitor can help you gauge the intensity of your workouts. (Photo: My Make OU / www.123rf.com)
Unsure if you want to invest in a fitness wearable like a heart rate monitor? If you want to train better but don’t actually know how a heart rate monitor can help you, read this. (Then, check out the accessories our testers loved under Shape Sports Awards 2015!)
1. How does a heart rate monitor help you during workouts?
Take cardio workouts for instance. The effectiveness of cardio workouts lies in the intensity of the exercise – and nothing to do with the duration, explains Dr Lim Baoying, a resident physician at Changi Sports Medicine Centre.
You can gauge the intensity of your workout by using a heart rate monitor to determine your heart rate or beats per minute.
Ideally, a cardio workout should bring you to between 64 and 95 per cent of your maximum heart rate, which denotes a moderate to vigorous workout, says Dr Lim.
2. Um, how do you actually read a heart rate monitor?
First, you’ll need to know your estimated maximum heart rate (MHR). To get the figure, subtract your age from 220. The MHR of a 28-yearold (220–28) is about 192 beats per minute (BPM).
Presuming you are a 28-year-old, a hatha workout that challenges your maximum heart rate (MHR) by 60 per cent should register 115.2 BPM. On the other hand, a High Intensity Interval Training (HITT) workout might get you to max your heart rate at 90 per cent, which means 172.8 BPM.
If you are a beginner aiming to improve your endurance and start conditioning your body, start by hitting about 50 to 65 per cent of your MHR. If you have been exercising regularly, you should be going for 60 to 75 per cent.
And, if you are a regular gym rat, 70 to 85 per cent should be manageable. A 28-year-old with a MHR of 192 and no known health issues, and who’s just getting off the couch to start a regular exercise regimen should target reaching 96 BPM to 124.8 BPM during her workouts.
3. So you’re saying a heart rate monitor is a worthwhile investment?
A heart rate monitor is the most accurate way to measure your pulse, and it lets you know whether you’re going faster or slower than your intended intensity. Depending on your fitness objectives, there is an optimal heart rate you should train at to achieve the best results. Think of a heart rate monitor as the display panel in your car: You wouldn’t want to drive without knowing your speed, fuel capacity and how hard you’re accelerating.