The Benefits of a Heart Rate Monitor

A heart rate monitor allows you to determine what your heart rate is at any given time and a reasonably sophisticated model can tell you how much time you spend at various heart rates, called “zones.” You can get one at any sports store for as low as $25, but that model won’t tell you how much time you spend in different heart rate zones.

A more advanced model costs about $75. It will tell your current and average heart rate, time spent at various heart rates, calories burned and more.

Many of us have a GPS system in our cars today. Consider a heart rate monitor as a GPS for your heart. Like a GPS, it tells you where you are right now. It also tells you where you’ve been and how much work you’ve done at various levels. As to where you’re going, that’s up to you.

In order to effectively utilize a heart rate monitor you need to either know or estimate your RHR (resting heart rate) and your MHR (maximum heart rate).

RHR —You can determine your RHR by staying in bed when you wake up. Put your heart rate monitor on and look at it after a few minutes. If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, put your finger on the artery at your throat and count the number of pulses for ten seconds and then multiply by six. That’ll be close enough for openers.

MHR and Zones – Here’s an easy way to determine your MHR and heart rate zones, which is your heart rate when working at 60% to 70% of your MHR (Zone 1), 70% to 75% (Zone 2), etc:

Go to my website,, and click on “Find Your Zones,” located below “Heart Rate Zones Calculator” on the opening page. Enter your age, gender and resting heart rate. Your estimated MHR and heart rates zones will be automatically calculated. You can record these in an Excel spreadsheet for future reference. If you purchase a heart rate monitor that records exercise by zones, you can enter these numbers into it.

We tend to spend most of our time exercising in Zone 1 or lower, but we benefit significantly by increasing the intensity part of the time so that we get our heart pumping harder.

So why buy a heart rate monitor? It can provide useful data that can provide both information and motivation for us to use our exercise time effectively.

Footnote: Fitness Beyond 50 was featured on CNN HLN on February 17 and again on February 23 on “Seeking Solutions With Suzanne.” It’s a five-minute interview with Suzanne Roberts, host of the show. A longer version will air on Comcast in March. The video is posted on the opening page of my website.

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1 Response to The Benefits of a Heart Rate Monitor

  1. John Allison says:

    Harry, the CNN presentation is terrific. You look in absolutely great shape. Just got back from a 10 day trip to Calif. to see Rich and family (he just took delivery of a Tesla) and then on to LV for a buying trip. I hit the gym 8 out of the 10 days thanks to your continuing motivation. With the new knee I’m looking forward to getting on my road bike once Spring arrives. Hi to Deb.


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