We got the beat : 5 benefits of heart rate monitoring during your workouts

It's time for a weekend high-five! Today, Burke and I are sharing with you 5 benefits of wearing a heart rate monitor while you sweat it out.

Tracking your heart rate can help you measure the "oopmh" you're putting into any given workout in or outside the gym. What's awesome is that wearing a heart rate monitor allows you to really get to know yourself when it comes to movement. Seeing your own heart rate data during your workouts allows you to look at how your actual physical effort (heart rate) matches up with your mental effort (how much work you THINK you're doing). For example, Burke and I have both gone through workouts where we THINK we're at a 9-10 on the effort scale (because the workout is unfamiliar or uncomfortable), but in reality we're only at a 6-7 according to our heart rate data. Let's break it down on ways that heart rate monitoring can help you get the most out of your precious time spent movin' yo bod.

1) Data.

You don't know what you don't know. Wearing a heart rate monitor gives you tangible numbers that directly correspond with what effort level it takes you to get through different workouts. In other words, how hard does your body have to work to run a mile as fast as you can? Swim 400 meters? Walk around the block? Chase your children through Target?

2) Awareness.

A heart rate monitor gives great insight into the condition of your cardiovascular system, especially during physical activity. It can give you great confidence knowing what your heart is doing during particular activities and how long you can sustain any given effort, especially hard efforts where sometimes we let mental barriers hold us back. Awareness is confidence!

3) Recovery.

One of the best indicators of cardiovascular health is your heart's ability to recover back down to a "close to resting" heart rate after a big push. For example, it's like that time you (Burke) lied about going cow tipping and you had to run from the cows as to not be caught. Granted that a cow can top out at a speed of 8 miles per hour, you were running pretty hard.

Once in the clear from Cowmaggedon, you sit down and rest. The time it takes your heart rate to come back down to normal is referred to as a "recovery rate." The faster the recovery rate, the stronger your heart is. Heart rate monitoring gives you a big window to see into how strong your heart is and track improvements in recovery rates over time.

4) Motivation.

Heart rate monitoring keeps your workouts spicy by encouraging you to train at a variety of different intensities, which helps you improve different aspects of heart and lung health.

Switching up your workout routine (by moving at different intensities) prevents exercise from becoming boring, and this is what can help keep you motivated long after you've started to achieve some of the goals you may have set for yourself.

5) Accountability and community.

Using a heart rate monitor is like having a personal coach. Seeing your heart rate in real time can tell you if you need to up the intensity, dial it down, or stay put. This helps to zero in on what's best for YOU so that you get the most return for the time you put into the gym. Using a heart rate monitor allows you to work and measure your efforts based on YOUR individualized settings--not your neighbor's in spin class.

Speaking of neighbors, many heart rate monitoring systems have created community through heart rate monitoring by developing apps that connect heart rate monitor users with one another. You'll find that there's tons of great options available when it comes to heart rate monitors. Our favorite heart rate monitoring system and app is MYZONE (this is the heart rate monitoring system that Burke and I use with our group training clients at The Little Rock Athletic Clubs; the data posted above was recorded from one of my workouts last week). Not only does this system collect your heart rate data for each of your workouts, but it also connects you with other MZONE users (similar to facebook for heart rate monitoring). You have the option to see and comment on the workout data of your friends, provide encouragement to one another, and also set up fun challenges groups. We love the ability to create community with exercise and technology, so this is our favorite part about MYZONE thus far. You can learn more about this system HERE and read testimonials from users HERE.

Remember, heart rate monitors are only good for you if using them makes your workouts more FUN. We are huge advocates of making workouts fun. So while this may be your first time reading about heart rate monitors or considering using one, it certainly doesn't mean that you need to rush out and buy one immediately. Take your time, ask questions, and if you need any help, we're all ears! We'll leave you with THIS.

-LA and Burke

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