Naturally, as my husband turned 48 years last week (Happy Birthday!!) , I bought him a heart rate monitor ("HRM"). While he is not an extreme exerciser, he has been incorporating a couple of High Intensity Interval Training sessions into his weekly routine.
While working without a HRM is fine, the purpose of exercise is to ensure your heart is working hard enough to be healthy and strong without risking damage.
There are many criteria to consider when purchasing a HRM:
- Cost; Is it affordable?
- How complicated is it?
- Durability; How long will it last?
- What if there are issues?
- Can the batteries be changed; Does it need batteries?
- Which brand and model works best for YOUR purposes?
- Will YOU use it?
I chose a Polar FT7 because it's easy to set-up and use right away, simple enough to operate during workouts, rated very well with other men, no charging or calibration waiting time for a signal, battery can be changed easily, and I'm SUPER happy with the durability of my HR monitor.
So, the most interesting part, for me, was calculating the percentage rates, based on my husband's age and resting heart rate, for his maximum heart rate reserve "MHRR." (A personal trainer is required to know this information and should be happy to help you.)
The average exerciser, no heart problems or other concerns, can work their heart anywhere from 60-90% of their maximum heart rate reserve. While the Polar watch gives you a basic age-adjusted maximum heart rate reserve (220 - (your age)), it's most beneficial to get a more accurate range based on your resting heart rate. While there are a whole host of reasons this is beneficial, the purpose of this gift was simply to promote safe, effective exercise. That's why it's important to actually LIKE the person you're buying the gift for ;0)
High Intensity Interval Training "HIIT" is a great approach to use when time is limited. However, it's important to understand how to gauge whether you're working too hard or not hard enough:
- If you're physically unable to complete 5 intervals, you're working too hard, so you should slow your heart rate down a little during the peak of your intervals and/or consider allowing a few more seconds between intervals.
- After completing 8 intervals you're ready for more, you're probably not working hard enough.
Please Note: This information is intended to be used by the average exerciser and may not apply to special populations or athletes. Prior to starting any exercise program, it's essential to see your doctor and discuss whether special considerations are recommended. (I do not have any affiliation with Polar.)