Most heathy exercisers find they don’t need to keep track of their heart rate during a typical workout. Plenty of regular gym-goers and casual runners train for years without ever seriously keeping track, but heart rate monitors offer some benefits that might not be so obvious.
With the evolution of technology, it’s become easier than ever to track everything from distance of a run to calories burned—and heart rate can now be seen at the touch of a button. While this type of tracking might not be for everyone, athletes hoping to improve and people with health conditions can use this information to their advantage.
Heart rate monitors can help you control the intensity of your exercise. Generally, when your heart rate is at the high end of the spectrum, your body is working harder and expending more energy. A high heart rate usually means your exercise session is intense. There are other factors that can raise your heart rate—everything from a stressful day to a cup of coffee—but those factors play a limited role. When you’re trying to take an easy run or do a light workout, a heart rate monitor can ensure you don’t overexert yourself.
Monitoring your heart rate can prevent overtraining. Just as this measure helps athletes stay within a given intensity threshold, heart rate monitors can keep people from overtraining. This particular point is important for those with heart conditions, who have been instructed by doctors not to exceed a certain number.
Resting heart rate is a good measure of aerobic fitness. A lower resting heart rate is a fairly reliable indicator of your fitness level when compared to your previous resting heart rate readings. When measured first thing in the morning, over time, it can show improvements or dips in aerobic fitness.
Your heart rate can serve as motivation. Since resting heart rate can be a good measure of aerobic fitness and you can measure the amount of effort it takes to do a certain exercise, heart rate monitors are often good motivators. Athletes try to lower their resting heart rate over time and do more physical work with less of an impact on their heart—it pushes them to improve their fitness level.