Heart rate refers to the number of times that your heart beats every minute. This can be measured while you are at rest (also called resting heart rate), as well as during exercise (referred to as training heart rate). Heart rate is considered one of the most dependable indicators of effort when it comes to pushing yourself enough during exercise.
If you have been diagnosed with some issues with your heart, or if your physician has informed you that there are certain risk factors that you need to watch out for in order to avoid cardiovascular diseases, it is important to look into your options first before finding ways to measure your own heart rate during exercise. Your physician can inform you the types of exercises that are generally appropriate and safe for your fitness level and condition. He or she will also determine your target heart rate, giving suggestions if you need some monitoring while engaging in physical activity.
Therefore, it is highly advisable to at least know the basics so that you can be sure that you are well-informed when discussing options with your physician.
How is Heart Rate Measured?
The process involved in measuring your heart rate is fairly simple; even as simple as just checking on your pulse. Your pulse can be found at your neck, chest and wrists. You may also want to try measuring your radial pulse, located on the wrist artery. It can be found below your thumb.
In getting your heart rate measurement, all you need to do is to press the edge of your middle and index fingers on top of the blood vessels located in your wrist. Avoid using your thumb as it also comes with its own pulse. Afterwards, count the number of beats that you feel for a complete minute. You may also count within 30 seconds, multiplying the number by two, or even counting just for 10 seconds, then multiplying the number by six.
As an alternative solution, you may also consider using a heart rate monitor. This equipment can help in automatically determining your heart rate. You may even be able to program it in order to inform you if you are already above or still below the target range.
Resting Heart Rate
Before dealing with your training heart rate, it is highly recommended to start with the measurement of your resting heart rate. The best time to do so is early in the morning, right before getting out of bed, and preferably after a great night’s sleep. The same procedure highlighted above can be done. You may want to continue doing this for a few days successively in order to ensure that you have the accurate measurement.
Per the American Heart Association (AHA), the idea resting heart rate ranges from 60 to 80 beats every minute. This number may increase along with age and it is generally lower for individuals who have higher levels of fitness.
Training Heart Rate
After familiarizing yourself with your heart rate measurement, you can start to monitor and calculate your target training heart rate. With the manual method, you need to pause during exercise in order to take your pulse. On the other hand, if you are using an automatic monitor, you can still continue with your workout while looking at the monitor.
Your physician can help in determining the advisable target heart rate for you. You may also want to use the standard target zone guide in order to determine your heart rate target according to your age. Moderate to intensity workouts need to be closer towards the lower end of the range. On the other hand, the higher end of said range is reserved for vigorous, high-intensity workouts.
As a note, however, certain medications for blood pressure may lower your maximum heart rate, thus also affecting the zone rate target. Therefore, if you are taking prescription medication for your condition, you may want to ask your doctor first in order to find out whether you need to follow a lower rate.
There are certain factors that affect the ideal heart rate of an individual. The best thing to do is to discuss your options with your doctor, set a target heart rate and adjust your activities according to such rate.