Easy Ways to Monitor Your Heart Rate

I often get asked about easy ways to monitor one’s heart rate during exercise. I am normally not a big stickler about this, as your body has a way of telling you when you need to slow down. However, some people must monitor their heart rate diligently due to a previous cardiac event or another health issue. These people should wear a heart rate monitor, which will provide an accurate, up-to-the-minute reading of their heart rate.

For people for whom there is no cardiac issue to consider, there are 3 easy ways to gauge exercise intensity without the use of a monitor.

1. THE KARVONEN FORMULA is based on a clinically determined maximum heart rate of 220 BPM (beats per minute).

Subtract your age from 220 to determine your maximum heart rate.

Subtract your resting heart rate from your maximum heart rate. Your resting heart rate should be taken first thing in the morning before you sit up in bed. Take your pulse for one full minute.

Multiply this number (220 minus age minus your resting heart rate) by .5 and .8 to determine 50-80% of your heart rate reserve.

Add your resting heart rate to the values calculated to be 50-80% of your heart rate reserve to determine your TARGET HEART RATE RANGE for one minute. Divide this number by 6 to get your target heart rate range for 10 seconds.

While exercising, periodically take your pulse for 10 seconds. It’s rate should fall between the two numbers of this determined range.

2. RATING OF PERCEIVED EXERTION is a scale used to measure the intensity of exercise. The RPE scale runs from 0 to 10, where 0 = nothing at all, and 10 = very, very heavy exertion.

You should exercise at a level that feels like a 3 (moderate) to a 4 (somewhat heavy).

When using this scale, remember to include feelings of shortness of breath as well as how tired you feel in your legs and overall fatigue.

3. THE TALK TEST is based on your ability to carry on a conversation during aerobic activity. You should be able to speak without gulping for air or feeling totally out of breath. Being slightly out of breath between words means you are keeping a good pace.

If you are unable to speak in short, choppy phrases, bring down your intensity level until you feel challenged (but not exhausted), and you can maintain a steady pace.

Hope that this information helps!!!  Have a beautiful summer!!

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