Tracking Your Heart Rate During Exercise

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Written by Stephanie Dane

Heart rate monitors (HRM) are far from a new concept, but are becoming quite the norm… whether we realize it or not. Gadgets that track our heart rate have been present on cardio machines - treadmills, steppers, ellipticals, bikes - for decades. But now these monitors are much more mobile and can be found outside of the gym and doctor’s offices.

In fact, HRM are worn today by more than just experienced athletes. Built into every sport watch, it’s now easier than ever to track your heart rate during any form of activity, on land or in water.

Sport watches have now evolved into “everyday” watches, thanks to all of the added high-tech features that keep us connected to the world. Not to mention, their sleek styles! Heart rate monitors can range from $50 all the way to $450, depending on the brand and additional features the watch offers. But, if you’re looking just for the functionality of tracking your heart rate and can pass on all the other bells and whistles, there are plenty of great ones at an affordable price and all are easy to use.

But that still poses the main question:

How does tracking our heart rate during exercise correlate with reaching our fitness goals?


1. Measure Your Effort: Your heart rate along with your “perceived exertion rate” can help determine if you need to increase your intensity, decrease, or establish if you’re in your optimal zone.  It’s not uncommon to simply go through the motions of a workout, without stopping to establish whether it actually was challenging enough to elevate our heart rates.
On the other hand, there are situations where individuals believe “no pain, no gain” and actually work out at an intensity that is higher than necessary. Knowledge is power, so understanding your personal effort will help achieve the best results for the time you have put into your fitness routine. From a convenience and accuracy standpoint, heart rate monitors trump stopping your workout to manually take your pulse.

2. Exercise Safely: Not only is it important that you know if you’re working out at an intensity that will yield results over time… equally important is an understanding that you aren’t working out TOO hard in a single session. Working out too hard not only leads to burnouts, but overtraining can result in injuries.


3. Track Your Progress: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (50-70% of maximum heart rate) 5 days per week. Many monitors store the history of recent workout sessions to help you look back and see what exercises you did, when you performed them and calories burned. It’s especially helpful for referencing which activities really challenged you most and brought your heart rate to a level that supports your goals.

4. Accountability: Most heart rate monitors allow you to set personal goals, based on movement time, calories burned in a single workout, and so forth. While those monitories celebrate those milestone when we achieve them… they also offer friendly reminders if we fall short or aren’t on pace to reach those goals. It’s like having our own personal coach on our wrist!


Tracking your heart rate has become easier today than ever. Awareness is a powerful component in reaching your health and fitness goals. Whether your new to exercise or an experienced athlete, everyone can benefit from wearing a heart rate monitor.


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