Why You Should Track Your Heart Rate
How often do you think about your heart rate? Honestly, it’s something the vast majority of the population do not do. Below, I list the reasons why you should be tracking your heart rate and why it’s such an important to living a healthy life style.
What Is Heart Rate?
Firstly, we’re going to talk about what your heart rate is exactly. At a basic level, your heart rate is the speed at which your heart beats. This can be measured in BPM or PPM. BPM is beats per minute which is the more commonly used unit of measurement and is used mostly on fitness trackers. PPM is pulsations per minute and is more commonly used on fitness equipment such as treadmills and cross trainers and give a more varied reading.
You can check your own heart rate by use of fitness trackers or by doing it manually which is by finding your pulse on your wrist or neck and then timing the amount of beats you feel for 15 seconds. Once you have this figure, multiply it by 4 and voila! You have your resting heart rate.
The Beauty Of Knowing Your Heart Rate
Knowing your heart rate and keeping track of it offers a huge plethora of benefits. First and foremost, it’s a really good indication of how good your overall fitness is. Heart rate measures multiple bodily systems at the same time such as the pulmonary system (lungs), the cardiovascular system (heart, blood, arteries) and the efficiency of your muscles to consume oxygen (muscular function). All of these are important when tracking and improving your fitness.
Normal Resting Heart Rate
The typical adult has a resting heart rate of between 50-90 BPM. Obviously the lower number the better. A low ranging number signals better overall fitness as your heart is having pump less blood around your system in a rested state.
Don’t worry too much if you have an unusually high HR as factors such as drinking a lot of coffee or alcohol can increase your HR quite considerably. So, you may want to consider having a heavy weekend before undergoing a medical!
Below we have a more detailed graphic of what you should be looking for your resting HR to be depending on age and fitness level.
What Affects Your Heart Rate?
Your HR is affected by practically everything you do in your day to day life. Things such stress, lack of sleep, dehydration, poor diet or if you’re developing an illness can all be indicated by a high HR. If you have a scary moment during the day then you’ll also find that adrenaline will be pumped into body which again, increases your HR. Because of these reasons, it’s important to keep track of what your HR is doing throughout the day.
The biggest thing that affects your heart rate is of course your fitness. A higher level of fitness will mean your heart has to do less work during normal day to day tasks which is great for your health in the long run. If your heart spends too much time over working then eventually you’ll run into huge health risks.
Risks Of A High Or Low Heart Rate
It’s not just people with a high HR that could possibly face health risks. It’s sometimes just as hazardous to have an unusually low HR as well.
When a HR is above 100 beats per minute then that is classified as a condition called tachycardia. This could lead to short term issues such as dizziness or fainting to more long terms conditions such as blood clots, strokes and heart attacks.
On the other end of the scale, heart rates that are too low is called bradycardia which is a HR of under 60 BPM. This can lead to feeling tired or light headed and again could lead to spells of fainting.
How To Lower Your Heart Rate
Heart rate can be lowered by generally leading a healthier life style. A mix between good diet and exercise will soon reduce your resting heart rate to a healthy level.
Cutting out saturated fats and processed carbs from your diet will promote healthy weight loss meaning your heart is having to work less hard than it should be. Lowering sugar and salt intake will also aid in this.
Improving your overall fitness will be a huge contributor in lowering your HR. Once you train your heart to withstand long bouts of cardio and lifting heavy weights, then you’ll improve its health. HIIT sessions are also great for improving the health of your heart as it’s pumping a lot of blood around the body in a short amount of time as the intensity increases.
Heart Rate For Training
Tracking your heart rate while you train is a vital part of modern day fitness. No matter what your fitness goal is, tracking your heart rate will help with that. If you’re trying to lose weight, then finding out your target heart rate zone and training within that zone will burn fat a lot quicker as the body burns fat far more efficiently with a high heart rate.
Even for endurance training, keeping track of your HR is important. Knowing that your target HR is slightly low when long distance running can be helpful as you know you’re not pushing yourself as much as you could be.
So, if tracking your heart rate wasn’t something you considered before maybe it is now. Keep track of your HR to live a longer, happier and healthier life.