Disclosure: I received a free sample of the Beets Blu Heart Rate Monitor mentioned in this post. I was not additionally compensated for my time. All opinions expressed are my own.
There are so many health gadgets on the market nowadays. Things like GPS watches, foam rollers, kettle bells, big rubber balls, fitness apps and heart rate monitors. How can anyone know what gadgets are right for them? I was recently asked to try out a heart rate monitor, and I want to share my experience and opinion.
I was given the Beets Blu heart rate monitor. The device is a strap that goes around your chest and connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth. It paired with my preferred running app, RunKeeper, and monitored my current and average heart rate as well as the percentage of my max heart rate (my heart rate zone). Let me explain a little about heart rate during exercise.
The average resting heart rate for men and women is 60-80 beats per minute. Resting heart rates are based on things like physical fitness and genetics and vary among individuals.The better shape you are in, the lower your resting heart rate. Some athletes have resting heart rates of 28 beats per minute, and some overweight sedentary individuals can have resting heart rates of 100 beats per minute. For physical fitness, your resting heart rate is not as important as your maximum heart rate. To find your maximum heart rate, use this simple equation: 220 minus your age. My maximum heart rate is 220-31(my age)=189 beats per minute. This number is important to know if you are going to use a heart rate monitor because it explains the different heart rate zones.
Heart rate zones are the percentage of the different percentages of the max heart rate that determine the level of exercise intensity. Every source I read has a different definition for the heart rate zones, but this is a general rule of how you can correlate your heart rate zone to your level of activity.
Zone 1: 50-65%; warm-up and cool down; rather easy and should be able to carry on a conversation.
Zone 2: 65- 80 %; comfortable for a long distance; can talk with a little effort
Zone 3: 81 to 93%; pretty hard, you will feel yourself breathing deeply, but not in an uncomfortable way
Zone 4: 94 to 100%; max effort; you can run a 5-K at this pace (but it would take me quite a bit of willpower)
Most exercise is done in the 50-85% heart rate zone. For me, that would be anywhere between
189 (my max heart rate) x 50% = 94.5 beats per minute AND 189 x 85% = 160 beats per minute.
Now knowing about the different heart rate zones, here are reasons I found the Beets Blu heart rate monitor to be useful for my workouts.
- Using a heart rate monitor allows you to gauge your level of intensity. I used my Beets Blu heart rate monitor while running, biking, doing Pilates and yoga, strength training, and high intensity interval training. Obviously I know which exercises feel harder than others, but it was interesting to see the varying heart rate zones among the different exercises.
- The amount of calories you burn correlates directly to your heart rate zone. The harder you work, the more calories you burn. Seeing which exercises contribute to higher calorie burn was very insightful.
- I loved being able to target a certain heart rate zone. I have a tendency to start my runs too fast and drain my energy quickly. Using a heart rate monitor, I could see that I was running too fast in the beginning, and I could slow down until I reached a warm-up heart rate.
- The heart rate monitor kept me motivated to work out, and it challenged me to vary my workouts. I have a tendency to stick with the same few work-outs–generally running and high intensity interval training. But, I was interested in how my heart rate would change from running to biking to Pilates to yoga. Strapping on that heart rate monitor for all different types of workouts got me going on nights when I didn’t feel like leaving my couch.
Honestly, I loved using the Beets Blu heart rate monitor and it’s now part of my exercise routine. I encourage you to try one out! Have you ever used a heart rate monitor? What did you think of it?
Oh, and they also gave me a PaperTag, which is wireless item finder to keep track of your valuables and alert you when your items are left behind. It’s definitely a cool product for those of us who have a tendency to misplace things, like keys and phones. Learn more here.