The heart is an important muscle – we all know that. From heart rate monitors to fitness trackers, there are a lot of products measuring the benefits of exercise, and more specifically what your heart rate is when you exercise. But with no heart health concerns, I’m trying to figure out why my heart rate even matters. Here’s what I’ve learned:
I’ve got heart
Thanks to my Fitbit, I know my resting heart rate is 52 bpm. What does that mean? Well, it’s on the low side. The Mayo Clinic says the normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats a minute, and my rate means I may have a healthier and more efficient heart. Whenever I’ve had a medical check-up, the doctors have always said I must be fit. I’ll take that.
My trackers also tell me that my rate is between 150 and 175 bpm when I exercise. That’s high, if you consider what I should be ticking in at, which is 141 to 154 bpm according to healthlink.bc.ca. So, am I working out too hard?!
Get in the zone
I recently went to Orangetheory Fitness in Richmond Hill, Ont., where every gym goer wears a heart rate monitor. The idea is that you should be working out so your heart rate is within the fat-burning zone. Your heart rate is put up on a screen and you can see how intense your workout is based on the colour, from grey (resting) to blue (lightly active), green (fat burning), orange (83 to 91 per cent of your heart rate max) and red (92 per cent or higher). I was working out in the red zone, which is shown to boost physical performance, so it’s not as troublesome as I first thought. Although the instructor advised me to learn how to get into the “fat-burning” zone, I just can’t give less effort. It feels strange. Especially because I’ve been doing a lot of HIIT classes and Tabata circuits recently.
The whole idea isn’t about burning calories, according to Orangetheory, but about your increased metabolism after you work out.
This is the type of system many fitness organizations, from treadmill companies to fitness trackers to gyms, are using to let you know how high your heart rate gets when you’re working out. While not all are the same, you get the gist with colour coding of green, yellow and red. In fact, that’s what the new Under Armour Health Box tracker does when it’s connected with your heart rate monitor, flashing green and red depending on your workout’s intensity. Under Armour claims that you’ll burn more calories at rest than you do during your workout. And with athletes wanting to improve their heart rate efficiency
Regardless of whether you follow your heart rate during a workout or not, exercise is good for the heart. A study from Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that being active leads to better cardiovascular health for women. No word on their heart rate monitors, though.
My heart matters
While I’m not at risk for heart disease or other cardio complications, I’m not immune to it, either. I take krill oil every day. It’s known to benefit those with heart disease, high cholesterol and certain blood fats, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, PMS, depression and more. I don’t get achy knees if I take it every day, and I’m all for it helping with period cramps.