True & False Questions about Heart Rate Monitors

garminWe have talked about heart rate monitors in class, so I wanted to recap some facts to keep in mind as you ask your significant other to pitch in and get you one (smile). It’s a great tool and you could forward this post to him/her to get a better understanding of why you need it. 

Heart rate monitors can be a great way to measure your fitness and useful tool for training. Although they might use it in different ways, recreational exercisers all the way up to elite marathoners or triathletes can benefit from the use of a heart rate monitor. Playing with different intensities, keeping track of your recovery time, and working at a rate that keeps you in your “zone” are all great ways to gauge your cardiovascular endurance. In bootcamp, they are working every zone and sometimes they need to know if they’re heart is going to pop out of their chest.

When you first start and exercise program, you may feel like your heart is beating out of your chest at a pace so fast that it scares you. Well, have you ever wondered what your heart rate was at that point? Whether you were truly at your MAX or not? I have found that most people are not really at their true max but panic a little because they are not used to their body feeling what they are feeling. So a bit of it is mental.

Not all of it though…your heart rate will definitely be higher on average when you first start an exercise program. As you get more fit and your heart gets stronger, your heart rate will not rise quite as fast and it will recover a lot faster than it did when you first started. These are REAL “in-your-face” results of your heart getting stronger and working more efficiently. This means your heart isn’t under as much stress and it doesn’t have to work so hard all of the time to pump oxygen and nutrients to your vital organs and muscles. You know, those muscles that your spouse flaunts in your face. We know David “Getting Stronger Everyday” does, lol


1. TRUE OR FALSE: It’s vital to monitor your heart rate during exercise.

FALSE. It all depends on who you are and why you’re exercising.

If you have heart disease and your doctor has forbidden you to exercise strenuously, monitoring your heart rate during workouts is a good way to avoid pushing your heart into the danger zone. Heart rate monitoring can also make sense for serious runners, cyclists, and other athletes who are eager to optimize their aerobic fitness. But otherwise, there’s no pressing need to know your heart rate. Just want to clarify that.

2. TRUE OR FALSE: Resting heart rate is a good indicator of aerobic fitness.

TRUE. Regular aerobic exercise makes your heart stronger and more efficient, meaning that your heart pumps more blood each time it contracts, needing fewer beats per minute to do its job.

3. TRUE OR FALSE: Maximum heart rate declines with age.

TRUE. As we all know, exertion makes the heart beat faster, and the greater the exertion, the faster the heart rate. But there’s an upper limit on how fast your heart can beat, and that limit is affected by age.

4. TRUE OR FALSE: Moderate exercise promotes weight loss more effectively than vigorous exercise.

FALSE. Weight loss is a matter of simple arithmetic: To shed pounds, you must burn more calories than you consume. And when it comes to burning calories, the greater the exertion, the greater the rate at which calories are burned.

Working out at about 60% to 75% of your maximum heart rate (the “fat-burning zone”) burns fewer calories than working out at 75% to 85% of your maximum heart rate (the “aerobic” or “cardio” zone). But caloric burn depends on a workout’s duration as well as its intensity — and it’s easier to work out longer when exercising at a lower intensity. For many interested in weight loss, having sessions at the lower intensity is ideal to rid that stubborn fat. So going for those runs in the park or getting on the elliptical for 30 minutes is a great way to mix in the low-intensity training. Let’s not forget the key part….you still gotta work your butt off with exercise.

5. TRUE OR FALSE: There’s a simple and reliable formula for calculating your maximum heart rate.

TRUE. There is such a formula, but there are two big caveats.

For starters, the familiar 220 minus your age is an old formula but commonly used. That formula, first was derived in the 1960s and it works reasonably well for people under age 40. But it overstates the maximum heart rate for older people. A more accurate formula is the one published in 2001 by Tanaka in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Multiply your age by 0.7 and subtract that figure from 208. For example, a 40-year-old has a maximum heart rate of 180 (208 – 0.7 x 40). The calculated number isn’t too far off, but of course, there can’t be a formula from the 60’s governing heart rates in this day and age.

6. TRUE OR FALSE: Using a heart rate monitor can help boost your fitness level.

TRUE. Electronic heart monitors, typically consisting of a wristwatch-like display and an electrode-based chest strap, are used by serious runners, cyclists, etc. while training and even during races. By providing accurate, real-time heart rate information, the monitors help athletes pace themselves.

But even if you’re not preparing for a marathon or a century ride, using a heart rate monitor can help motivate you to exercise. How? By turning your regimen into a solitaire of sorts: Can your regimen lower your resting heart rate? Can you exercise at the same pace but get your heart to pump more slowly? Can you shorten the time it takes your heart rate to return to normal after a workout? All valid questions that can be answered when you have the right tools.

 Wahoo Heart Rate Monitor:

Garmin Heart Rate Monitor:

See you in class,


One response to “True & False Questions about Heart Rate Monitors”

  1. Hey there, you have a great website. Very nice, Thanks for the superb advice. My family and I have constantly noticed people trying to start a healthy diet. We have been on a healthy diet a few months now as well and we feel totally great. Not only we have lost a ton of weight but we also feel awesome. By the way keep up the great advise coming along.

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