A heart rate monitor is an electronic device that tracks your levels of physical exertion when you perform cardiovascular activity. By being able to view your heart rate on a display you can then slow down or speed up your levels of intensity.
Heart rate monitors are an excellent training tool as they encourage a more goal orientated approach to your workouts. A heart rate monitor will always let you know if you’re exercising within the correct range of your body’s natural heartbeat. Another major advantage is that you can exercise within specific heart rates to hit performance goals. This could be to burn fat, increase endurance or lower your cholesterol.
Before buying a heart rate monitor it’s important to determine what kind of model is best suited to your needs. Most monitors display your current heart rate in beats per minute. Some devices provide more advanced feedback such as showing you how intensely you are working in ‘target zones’. This is a very helpful feature for hitting specific training zones.
A heart rate monitor gives you an accurate measurement of how hard your body is working. This allows you to adjust how hard you exercise and achieve your fitness goals, it can also let you know if you should not train as you may need more recovery time. All models will display a basic 'rev counter' indicating your current heart rate in beats per minute. More complex HRM's add simultaneous displays of how hard you are working as a percentage of your maximum rate or how long you've managed to maintain your heart rate inside pre-set target zones. This is a great feature for targeting specific training zones, these are often reffered to as the following: The Energy Efficient or Recovery Zone which is 60% to 70%, The Aerobic Zone - 70% to 80%, The Anaerobic Zone - 80% to 90%, The Anaerobic Zone - 80% to 90% of your maximum heart rate. Each zone has a specific benefit and a HRM will help you to stay within these zones and achieve those benefits. The ability to download data directly to a PC for later analysis is also a nice feature if you're following a long-term fitness program, this can also show what's working well for you.
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