Mon­i­tor­ing heart rate

New Straits Times - - Heal - Per­cent­age of max­i­mum heart rate (MaxHR): Low in­ten­sity: Mod­er­ate in­ten­sity: Vig­or­ous in­ten­sity: Per­cent­age of heart rate re­serve (HRR): Low in­ten­sity: Mod­er­ate in­ten­sity: Vig­or­ous in­ten­sity:

MANY FIT­NESS WEARABLES SUCH AS FIT­NESS BANDS AND SPORTS WATCHES COME WITH HEART RATE MON­I­TORS. HOW DOES A HEART RATE MON­I­TOR HELP IN MY EX­ER­CISE? Heart rate is a measure of how fast or slow your heart beats per minute. Nor­mal heart rate is be­tween 60 and 90 beats per minute. Dur­ing ex­er­cise, heart rate will in­crease ac­cord­ing to in­ten­sity and oxy­gen con­sump­tion. If you ex­er­cise reg­u­larly, there is an adap­ta­tion in our body, in­clud­ing heart rate.

You can mon­i­tor heart rate, not just dur­ing ex­er­cise but also at rest, to see the ef­fect of ex­er­cise on your body. Here are ways to use heart rate in ex­er­cise:

REST­ING HEART RATE Rest­ing heart rate (RHR) is the low­est and slow­est heart rate at rest. Nor­mally, the best time is to check your RHR is be­fore you get out of bed. The low­est rest­ing heart rate is as­so­ci­ated with age. The older the per­son is, the higher his or her RHR is.

When you ex­er­cise reg­u­larly, your RHR re­duces. This in­di­cates that your fit­ness has in­creased. It is good to keep a log of your rest­ing heart rate ev­ery morn­ing. It will also help you to de­ter­mine re­cov­ery from pre­vi­ous day’s work­out.

If your RHR is higher than usual (may be 5bpm higher, af­ter a work­out), it in­di­cates that you have not fully re­cov­ered.


Heart rate in­creases dur­ing ex­er­cise, ac­cord­ing to in­ten­sity. The higher the in­ten­sity, the higher the heart rate.

There are two ways to know the in­ten­sity of ex­er­cise us­ing heart rate. One is the per­cent­age of max­i­mum heart rate and the other, the per­cent­age of heart rate re­serve.

One must know his max­i­mum heart rate (usu­ally es­ti­mate), rest­ing heart rate and tar­get heart rate zone. The heart rate zone ac­cord­ing to in­ten­sity of ex­er­cise is as fol­lows: <64 per cent

64-76 per cent >76 per cent

Heart rate in­di­cates how ef­fi­cient your heart is. Heart rate mon­i­tors can help you train bet­ter, es­pe­cially for high in­ten­sity in­ter­val train­ing.

cent <40 per cent

40-60 per

>60 per cent

This method will keep you ex­er­cis­ing at the in­ten­sity that you re­quire. In some cases, it may help you to ex­er­cise at a safe in­ten­sity, like low and mod­er­ate in­ten­sity, in case you are wor­ried to ex­er­cise at vig­or­ous in­ten­sity or are not sure of your health sta­tus.


Train­ing zone: You can use heart rate to de­ter­mine your train­ing zone. Aer­o­bic train­ing zone is nor­mally be­tween 50 and 90 per cent of your max­i­mum heart rate. If you want to do a lac­tate thresh­old train­ing, ex­er­cise at >90 per cent of your max­i­mum heart rate.

Train­ing adap­ta­tion: Your body will adapt

Wearables of­ten come with a heart rate mon­i­tor.

ac­cord­ing to your train­ing, so will your heart rate. Your heart rate will be lower at the same ef­fort or speed af­ter train­ing. You can mon­i­tor the ef­fects of train­ing on your heart rate by log­ging it to mon­i­tor your progress.


Re­cov­ery heart rate is the dif­fer­ence of heart rate that is taken im­me­di­ately af­ter stopping ex­er­cise and one or two min­utes af­ter stopping ex­er­cise.

Nor­mally, the dif­fer­ence is >12bpm af­ter one minute of ex­er­cise or >22bpm af­ter two min­utes of stopping ex­er­cise. If the dif­fer­ence is less than 12bpm and 22 bpm af­ter one min­utes and two min­utes of ex­er­cise re­spec­tively, it shows a slow re­sponse of the heart than nor­mal.

Your heart rate must get back to nor­mal range (60-90bpm) af­ter a few min­utes of ex­er­cise, de­pend­ing on how long your ex­er­cise is. If it takes longer or re­mains high, you must see a doc­tor.

MEASURE ENERGY EX­PEN­DI­TURE Heart rate is also used to measure energy ex­pen­di­ture dur­ing ex­er­cise — how much calo­rie you burn. This is usu­ally called heart rate-based calo­rie ex­pen­di­ture. If you use a de­vice to mon­i­tor heart rate, it will usu­ally cal­cu­late how much energy you burn.


Chest-strapped heart rate sen­sor has long been in the mar­ket, while wrist-based heart rate sen­sor is fairly newly.

Chest-strapped sen­sor mea­sures heart rate by de­tect­ing elec­tri­cal ac­tiv­ity of the heart, while wrist-based sen­sor uses op­ti­cal sig­nal to de­tect changes in blood flow.

Some peo­ple choose wrist-based sen­sors be­cause of com­fort and con­ve­nience. How­ever, the ac­cu­racy may be dif­fer­ent. There are a lot of stud­ies done to com­pare the ac­cu­racy of wrist-based and chest­strapped heart rate sen­sor.

At rest, both are able to ac­cu­rately measure heart rate. How­ever dur­ing ex­er­cise, wrist-based sen­sor’s ac­cu­racy varies. It can give up to 10 per cent vari­a­tion, com­pared to chest-strapped sen­sor.

More vari­a­tion is seen dur­ing high in­ten­sity ex­er­cise. Wrist-based sen­sor will give arte­fact, es­pe­cially when a lot of move­ments are around the wrist. If the ex­er­cise re­quires ac­cu­racy of heart rate mon­i­tor, for ex­am­ple, a heart pa­tient dur­ing car­diac re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, a chest-strapped sen­sor is pre­ferred. For healthy in­di­vid­u­als, a wrist-based sen­sor will suf­fice.

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