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Why Is It So Important to Monitor Your Heart Rate During Class?

One of the primary goals of working out for most people is to improve their heart health. When you monitor your heart rate during your workout, you get an accurate picture of how hard your heart is working. Most people know that monitoring your heart rate is a good idea, but many don't understand why. When you learn to monitor your heart rate properly, it can actually be a good motivator, because it allows you to see beneficial changes to your body you wouldn't be able to see otherwise. The main reasons heart rate monitoring is necessary include:
  • Safety. Keeping track of your heart rate during your workout allows you to be confident about the safety of the exercise you're doing. If you see that your heart rate is above your working heart rate range, you can gradually ease up and take a rest. You might not know there was anything wrong if you weren't keeping an eye on the numbers.
  • Effectiveness. Gauging the effectiveness of your workout is another good reason to monitor your heart rate during exercise. If your heart rate is lower than your target range, you’ll know you need to work a little harder. You’ll be able to adjust your effort to ensure that you achieve the results you want.
  • Incentive. If you monitor your heart rate week after week as you engage in regular physical activity, you’ll see that you can exercise at increasingly higher levels of intensity while maintaining a lower heart rate. When you see this happen, you’ll know that your heart has become stronger and more efficient. Positive results are incredibly motivating and push you to strive for even more progress.

How to Track Your Heart Rate

There are three different heart rates to become familiar with so that you can track yours correctly.
  1. Resting heart rate. When you have been sleeping or resting quietly for a while, you’ll be able to find your resting heart rate. Your resting heart rate is a good indicator of your cardiovascular fitness level. A person who is in good shape will typically have a resting heart rate that is 15 to 20 beats slower per minute than their “usual” heart rate. Also, a lower resting heart rate generally indicates that a person is in better aerobic condition. Find your resting heart rate by measuring your beats per minute when you first wake up and before you get out of bed.
  2. Working heart rate. Your goal while exercising is to elevate your heart rate enough to be effective but not enough to be dangerous. This is why it’s important to monitor your heart rate throughout any workout. Ask your instructor or trainer if you need help determining your target working heart rate range, and then adjust your workout so that you stay in the middle of this range while you exercise. As you get into better shape, you’ll find that you have to work harder to get your heart into this working range. If you find that your heart rate has become too elevated, you can simply lower your intensity level by using your arms less and easing up on your pedaling or resistance.
  3. Recovery heart rate. Take your recovery heart rate during the cool-down segment of your workout. Within five to six minutes of your last aerobic activity, your heart rate should decrease to below 120 beats per minute. If it doesn’t recover this quickly, then be sure to lower the intensity of your workout next time.

Always work out at a level that is comfortable and enjoyable for you. As long as you avoid exceeding your maximum working heart rate and you recover well, you can be confident that you’ve had a safe and effective workout.

How to Measure Your Heart Rate


You can wear a heart rate monitor during class for an easy way to keep track, or your can periodically measure your heart rate manually. To do this, press on one side of your neck with two fingers until you find your pulse. Count each beat you feel for a set amount of time. Often, your instructor will tell you when to start counting and when to stop. When you’re taking your resting heart rate at home, count beats for 60 seconds.

Monitoring your heart rate will ensure that you get a safe and effective workout every time. It also allows you to track exciting changes in your body as you work toward improved fitness and health.

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