How A Cardio Heart Rate Monitor Helps You

January 12, 2007 by  
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By Debralynn Shaffer

Why Have a Cardio Heart Rate Monitor?

I recently finished a 12-week team fitness and weight loss program at my local gym, where I learned many valuable things about fitness training and how it relates to heart health and efficient workouts. I experienced first-hand the necessity of being able to watch your heart rate with an exercise heart rate monitor, while doing various speed and incline intervals on the treadmill to have a more effective workout. A cardio heart rate monitor can tell you your heart rate, cardio training zone, calories burned and give you valuable heart smart knowledge about your body’s fitness.

Know Your Cardio Zones

After completing this fitness program, I learned that it is absolutely necessary to know what heart rate training zone you are working in to improve your workout efficiency — to get the most benefit in the least amount of time. A heart rate monitor helps you know what cardio zone (Zones 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5) you are working in. In class, we spent most of our time working between Zone 2: the “temperate zone,” Zone 3: the “aerobic zone,” and some time in Zone 4: the “threshold zone.” Zone 2 is commonly known as the fat burning zone, where you are exercising comfortably and body fat begins moving out of your cells. Zone 3, typically referred to as the sweat zone, involves exercising at 70%-80% of your mazimum heart rate, burning a combination of fat and carbohydrates and increasing your aerobic capacity.

Beginning to intermediate workouts include work in Zone 2 & 3 for people training to improve their aerobic fitness. Zone 4 is a tougher place to work out, where you go above your “Anaerobic Threshold (AT).” (Your AT is the level of exercise your body can sustain utilizing both fat and carbohydrates as fuel). Finally, Zone 5: the “high zone,” uses the highest pecentage of heart beats and calories burned as you become more advanced and get in top physical condition. I could always count on my heart rate monitor to tell me which zone I was in and for how long, including my heart rates and recovery times. After a period of time, I got to know how my body’s heart rate responded while working between these zones, and up to AT and back down.

Know Your Heart Rate – Hands Free

In addition, a heart rate monitor can tell you your heart rate while your hands remain free of the treadmill. While we walked or ran the treadmill, the trainer called out something like “OK, now three minutes to the top of Zone 3,” or “Two minutes recovery time to the bottom of Zone 2,” as we lifted 5 to 8 pound weights, or stretched rubber bands in various routines. It’s convenient and easy to look at your heart rate monitor while you are in the middle of these routines using your arms and hands for upper body fitness. Our trainer continually stressed to a few in the class that did not yet have heart rate monitors, that the treadmill heart monitor could not be counted on to be accurate. This is especially so while a person is lifting weights at various inclines and speeds while walking or running.

Watch Your Calories Burn!

I enjoyed watching my cardio heart rate monitor tell me the number of calories I was burning while working out, as well as up to about three hours afterward. At the beginning of each treadmill workout, I’d punch my heart rate monitor to the calorie display and hit “Start.” By watching this display continually during my workout, it helped me to know how my body’s heart rate coincided with the number of calories burned. (The calories will naturally burn more slowly in the beginning of your workout). As we warmed up and worked into Zone 3, then up to AT — it was interesting to watch the number of calories burn so much faster! What was even more fun — was seeing the number of calories burned at the end of the workout session.

More Efficient Workouts = More Benefits

No matter where you are on your road to lifetime fitness, by working out efficiently you will increase your benefits in a shorter period of time. You can expect to have more energy, feel stronger, and have less stress while learning to use a program tailored to your exercise fitness goals and heart health needs. If you are more fit but looking for improvements, you can still expect to enjoy working out, burn fat more efficiently and train smarter, not harder. Even if you’re a serious athlete or marathon runner, you will continually increase your heart monitoring knowledge, and be able to create a precision fitness training program. In my own experience, I decreased my body fat percentage by 5% and decreased my resting pulse rate and recovery times. I learned how my body’s heart rate responded while working between the zones, up to AT and back down. I gained valuable knowledge so I am continually able to increase my fat burning and aerobic capacities, and go to the next level of improvement.

Summary – Work Out Smarter!

Once you get a heart rate monitor, you’ll be hooked! You’ll no longer be content to not be able to know your heart rate, training zones or calories burned. You’ll realize that by knowing your heart rate, you’ll get the very most from your body’s fitness capacities and your time spent pursuing your lifetime fitness goals. Today, it’s all about working smarter, not harder! A heart rate monitor will help you to work out the smart way! You’ll gain valuable knowledge about your personal fitness, which helps you reach your fitness goals easier, and faster. Just remember – be consistent, and don’t give up!

Debra Shaffer is the owner of She has several online businesses where she enjoys using the written word to give people access to valuable information through online resources. Debra has also worked in the public relations, journalism and educational fields, and lives in Gilbert, AZ with her family. Please feel free to email any questions or comments to her at

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