Getting regular exercise may be the single most important factor in achieving good health and living a long life. If you’re one of the 20 percent of Americans who get enough exercise, chances are you’re also interested in making sure your workouts are as effective and enjoyable as possible. And if you’re one of the 80 percent who isn’t yet putting in enough time at the gym or on the running trail, there’s no time like the present to dive in. Whether you’re a professional-level athlete, a casual exerciser, or a bright-eyed newcomer to the world of fitness, adding a heart rate monitor to your daily routine is a great way to get more out of your workout. From cutting fat faster to reaching your goals, here are five reasons why a heart rate monitor can help you on your path toward a better, more effective workout.
Get Usable Feedback
Even if you already keep an exercise journal in order to keep track of your efforts, progress, mileage, and reps, adding a heart rate monitor into your overall feedback mix can help you make the fitness leaps you’ve been craving. A lot of exercise is trial and error — especially if you’re trying to hit very specific goals like decreasing your 5k time by 30 seconds or increasing how much you can squat by 50 pounds. While the feedback you gain from a heart rate monitor alone won’t be enough to guide you toward successfully reaching your goals, it will provide an objective measurement that, combined with other observations and insights, can help you make better training and nutrition decisions.
Keep Overtraining and Undertraining at Bay
It isn’t uncommon for newcomers to exercise to undertrain out of fear or a lack of knowledge about how hard their bodies can actually work. Such undertraining can yield frustratingly slow progress that may discourage you so much you abandon exercise altogether. On the other end of the spectrum, seasoned athletes can sometimes overtrain in an effort to make more progress at a faster rate, leading to injuries and burnout. With a heart rate watch, the threat of undertraining and overtraining almost disappear. Simply stick within your target heart rate for each individual workout, and you’ll experience the progress you desire without the disappointment that comes with too little effort or too much.
Know Your Intensity
One of the most obvious advantages of using a heart rate monitor lies in its ability to give you an objective measure of the intensity of your workout. So many factors contribute to how hard a workout feels, which can lead to less effective training. With heart rate watches, how well you slept, what you ate the night before, where you are in your menstrual cycle, and other factors will no longer lead you astray in determining how hard you’re working. Because they give objective, reliable feedback, a heart rate monitor you can help you reach your target heart rate every time in every workout.
Meet More Goals
People who set goals and write them down are much more likely to meet them, and making use of a heart rate monitor in relation to written goal setting is one more way you can keep yourself on track and stay motivated. Instead of just aiming to run a triathlon, why not also set a written goal to work out within your proposed target heart rate four out of five workouts a week? These smaller, quantifiable goals can help you stay motivated over a longer training program that may tax your willpower without the pleasure that meeting smaller rewards provides.
Cut Fat Faster
Burning fat is a goal many people try and achieve in their cardio and weightlifting workouts, and turning to a heart rate watch can be a great help in this regard. Many studies have touted the merits of lower-intensity (i.e. lower heart rate) training as a more efficient means of burning fat, and while it’s true that more fat is used as a fuel source at lower intensity training than at higher intensities, the reality is that higher intensity workouts yield a much greater caloric expenditure than a lower intensity workout, which means you’ll lose more fat over the long haul by working harder for shorter periods of time. Especially if the time you have allotted for exercise is slim, make use of a heart rate monitor to help you push yourself as hard as you possibly can. You’ll get in shape faster and burn more fat in the process.
Using a heart rate monitor can truly up the ante in your daily workouts. From staying motivated to getting more usable feedback, elevate your fitness regimen with a heart rate watch.