Everyone knows that cardiovascular exercise is an essential part of any weight loss program. In addition to helping you lose weight, exercise is great for keeping the pounds off long-term. One of the best ways to monitor your efforts is by paying attention to your heart rate. There are specific heart rate zones that are best for losing weight based on your age. The good news is that the target heart rate for weight loss is not all that high (meaning that walking may actually be a better option than running). If you are pushing yourself too hard too soon, your heart rate may be out of your fat burning/weight loss zone and in your calorie burning zone instead. This may limit your weight loss results.
There are several ways to monitor your heart rate to ensure that the time you spend working out is quality time (in your fat burning zone). If you are working out at the gym, most of the machines have heart rate monitors built into the handrails. If you are enjoying the great outdoors instead of the gym or want something more accurate than the handrails, you can purchase a heart rate monitor at most sporting goods stores or online. The best monitors come as a small strap that you connect around your bra line. These monitors include a watch that shows you your heart rate. Some of them are pretty fancy, but you can definitely find basic ones for a limited budget. I have a women’s Polar heart rate monitor that is easy to use and cute!
If you want to go a step further to guarantee that your workout time is all about fat burning, you may be interested in having a active metabolic assessment to let you know your individualized, ideal fat burning zone. Most gyms offer this exercise test in which you walk on a treadmill wearing a vented mask and heart rate monitor (yes, you look really stupid and everyone in the gym stares at you!) This test measures your oxygen usage compared to your heart rate and is able to determine your optimal heart rate for fat burning. It also lets you know how many calories you are truly burning in an hour of exercise. Having this test done greatly altered my workouts. The age based formula was not nearly as accurate as the metabolic test, and I found that I wasn’t working out in my ideal zone most of the time. I was usually either below it or above it. After adjusting my workouts based on my target heart rate, the scale finally started to budge! I wasn’t wasting my breath without results anymore! On a side note, for those of you interested in the metabolic test, make sure that you have it repeated several months down the road because your target fat burning heart rate zone can change as you become more fit and gain endurance.
We are all busy women! We want our workout time to count. The simple tip of keeping your heart rate “in zone” is one way to make sure that you are shedding the pounds more quickly. Stay tuned for more ways to maximize your workouts to achieve your goals, and click on the hyperlinks for more info or to purchase a heart rate monitor.
From The Mom in Me, MD