4 Reasons you should start tracking your heart rate

The beauty of heart rate tracking is its honesty. Heart rate helps measure multiple systems simultaneously: the function of the pulmonary system (lungs), the cardiovascular system (heart, blood, arteries) and the ability of your muscles to consume oxygen (muscular function) – all important factors when it comes to optimising your fitness.

Think you’re in good shape? When you can track your resting heart rate over time, you know whether you are. 50-90 beats per minute is typical for adults, but, quite simply, the lower the number, the fitter you are.Heart rate is by far the best measure of exercise intensity. Here’s four reasons you should use heart rate tracking as part of your training regime.

1. You’ll know how fit you really are

Aside from accurately measuring your resting heart rate – a great indicator of general cardiovascular fitness; endurance athletes tend to be in the 35-50 range – continuous heart rate tracking also means you can see what heart rate zone you are working in, how long you can sustain it for, and how long it takes your heart rate to return to normal after exercise. How long you can work in the peak heart rate zone before collapsing (85% or greater of max heart rate), and how fast you need to be moving before you reach that peak zone – to name just a couple of useful data points.

2. You’ll want to work harder

Measures such as speed and power can be affected by external factors, such as the weather, but heart rate is always a consistent measure – so when you can compare data from a great session to an average one there’s nowhere to hide, It’s all on you – and if you can push yourself harder into your peak zone for longer and longer amounts of time each week, you’ll see faster progress.

3. You’ll measure your improvements – and lapses – properly

Data doesn’t lie. If you’ve slacked off for a couple of weeks, stuffed your face with junk food and partied hard, this is likely to be reflected in your resting heart rate. Seeing those numbers increase could be the motivation you need to head back to the gym. Keep to your four sessions a week and work hard and you’ll soon see all your numbers heading in the right direction. Prepare to develop a love/hate relationship with graphs.

4. You’ll pace yourself perfectly

Improving as an athlete is all about variety. You need to mix up the heart rate zones you’re working in as much as you mix up your distances, modes of training (bike, rower, treadmill) and speed. Few people are able to judge with a good degree of accuracy exactly how hard their body is working when running. Your heart rate tracker enables you to target specific HR zones, then work within them and push harder when you want to.

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