Every beat counts

Every beat counts
We all are always keen to count our calories and figure out how many calories we burn in a work out session. A lot of us treat the calorie burn readout off the treadmill or the cross trainer as the absolute truth. However, this is not always the case. Unless you are using a proper heart rate monitor to measure your pulse chances are you will only get an estimate of the calories burnt. If you choose to monitor your heart rate during your cardio-vascular workout, you can tailor your workout to achieve your fitness goals.

A heart rate monitor measures the human pulse. If you measure your pulse during exercise, it would protect your heart from excessive strain on the one hand and on the other, help you optimise your training and maximise your results.

The number to remember is your maximum heart rate (MHR), the thumb rule is to deduct your age from 220. If you are 40 then the MHR would be 220 – 40 = 180. The maximum heart rate reduces with advancing age. So please remember that your training thresholds will change as you grow older and is it very important never to lose sight of the fact. So how do we use this number to help us get fitter?

If you happen to new to working out, then the benchmark is to elevate your heart rate to about 50 – 60 per cent of the maximum heart rate. This level strengthens the heart and the circulatory system and therefore ideal for beginners. In case you are recovering from an illness or serious injury this level is ideal for regenerative training as well.

For those keen on shedding the excess fat keeping your heart rate to 60 – 70 per cent of the maximum rate is most beneficial. This is often termed as fat burning zone. Studies have shown that the body burns the highest percentage of calories from fat when we work out in a controlled manner rather than going all out and keeping the pulse down to 60 to 70 per cent of the You can support your individual training program and monitor your MHR. Working out at this level also strengthens the heart and the circulatory system, and most importantly it enhances fitness and helps with weight control and loss.

If you want to focus on improving your overall fitness, then your target heart rate should be 70 - 80 per cent of the maximum rate. This level of effort will improve the respiratory and circulatory system and is essential to promote the basic endurance.

For those who have loftier ambitions or are professionally involved with sport, raising the heart rate to 80 – 90 per cent of the MHR will improve your strength and basic speed (performance). This level of training is also recommended for endurance training. In case any of you are planning to run a half-marathon or a marathon in the future this would be the number for you to remember.

There is a lot of research and technology that is available in the public domain that we can use to cleverly to aid the achievement of our fitness goals.

(The author is a wellness expert and runs a fitness centre in New Delhi)

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