Monitoring Your Heart Rate

Monitoring heart rate

Do you monitor your heart rate when you are exercising aerobically? Are you aware that you could drastically improve your fitness levels by monitoring your heart rate?

So many of us ignore the heart rate controls on the cardio equipment we use or we fail to check our heart rate during an aerobics class.

It is a shame that more of us do not use these heart rate monitors because they really can help you dramatically improve your cardio fitness.

One of the goals of your aerobic workout is likely to improve your cardiovascular fitness. By taking your heart rate while exercising, you get an indication of how hard you heart is working. To receive the optimum benefits of your limited exercise time, you need to pace your exercise and ensure you are working in the proper zones. As you likely know, working too lightly will not reap you many benefits; however, working too intensely for extended periods of time can also be counter productive.

Monitoring your heart rate for aerobic exercise provides you with many benefits.

• Effectiveness. When you take your heart rate if it indicates that you are not working hard enough, then you can up the intensity and work more vigourously to maximize your workout effectiveness.

• Incentive. When you are exercising aerobically, monitor and keep track of your heart rate from week to week. You will likely discover that as the weeks go by, you are able to exercise at a higher level of intensity, but at the same or even lower heart rate. This progress indicates that your heart is working more efficiently and getting stronger.

• Safety. Periodically monitoring your heart rate during your exercise session is a great way to gauge if the intensity of your workout is appropriate for your fitness level. For example, if your heart rate monitoring shows that you are working in the anaerobic or red line zone often (see below), you need to slow it down and get your heart back into a safer zone.

Knowing the Zones

Understanding the various zones is crucial for helping you maximize the safety and effectiveness of your workouts. Learn the zones outlined below and see where you lie during your next aerobic workout.

1. Healthy Heart Zone: In this zone, you are working at 50-60% of your maximum heart rate. An easy walk reaches this comfortable zone for most people. Aim for this zone if you are just starting out with your exercise routine. You'll receive great health benefits exercising in this zone like decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol and lowering your body fat percentage.

2. The Temperate Zone: In this zone, you are working at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. You will receive the same benefits as zone number one, but the workout is more intense and burns more calories. Enter this zone by walking at a fast pace or with a slow jog.

3. The Aerobic Zone: You will enter this zone through a steady jog. Using 70-80% of your individual maximum heart rate, you will improve your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. This zone also increases the strength of your heart.

4. The Anaerobic Threshold Zone: You will achieve this zone through high intensity exercise such as a burning run. While in the anaerobic zone, you are working at 80-90% of your individual maximum heart rate.

5. The Redline Zone: This zone, often used in interval training, is equivalent to running full out at your maximum exertion possible. In the redline zone you are working at 90-100% of your maximum heart rate and therefore this zone should be used with caution because you could injure yourself if you sustain it for long periods.

Note: Maximum heart rate = 220 - your age. For example, if you are 35 years of age, your maximum heart rate (beats per minute) is 185.

Moderate heart rate is 50% to 85% of your maximum heart rate. To find this number, simply multiply the results from your maximum heart rate by 50% and 80%. For example, using the above example, take the above number, 185 and multimply it by .5 and .85 to find this range.

The table below will help (BPM = Beats Per Minute)

Age Moderate Heart Rate (BPM) Max Heart Rate (BPM)
20 100 to 170 200
30 95 to 162 190
35 93 to 157 185
40 90 to 153 180
45 88 to 149 175
50 85 to 149 170
55 83 to 140 165
60 80 to 136 160
65 78 to 132 155
70 75 to 128 150

If you don't have aerobic equipment with a heart rate monitor, or if you don't use equipment for your aerobic exercise, you can still monitor your heart rate using the old-fashioned pulse taking method.

Counting your pulse at the carotid artery in your neck because it is the easiest place to locate the pulse. Press gently on one side of your neck with your index and middle finger until you feel your pulse. Count each beat you feel to determine your heart rate. Count for 10 seconds and multiply by six to find your beats per minute.

Be sure to count your heart rate regularly throughout your exercise session to ensure a safe and effective aerobic workout. Heart rate monitoring allows you to track the fantastic improvements occurring with your cardiovascular health and in your journey to improved fitness.

All the best,


As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.

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