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13 Jan 2005

Correct Heart Rate and exercise effect
Hi there.

I have just started running on the treadmill after about 2 years of very little activity. I am 26 years old and weigh about 88 kg. I am using a heart rate monitor but dont really know much about its advantage. I run 2km and my heart rate gets up to about 165. I run 5km and it pretty much stays there. Again I am not too sure what goals to set or what to look for. Help. Thanks
Answer 344 views

01 Jan 0001

Hi there

My advice is that in these beginning stages, you don't worry too much about heart rate. Later on, it becomes a useful tool, but the problem when you are unfit is that things like zones and optimal heart rates go out the window. Once you get into the swing of it a little better, it becomes easier to monitor with some validity.

However, it is a good sign that your heart rate is staying relatively constant during your 5 km so far. That means that you may be able to start using it to monitor the intensity, but the MOST IMPORTANT thing I can suggest is that you use it reactively rather than proactively. In otherwords, if you go out and start training and you try to set a heart rate zone before you start, and things don't go according to plan it can really mess your training around. The better way to do it is to analyse the heart rate after training and then make changes into the future based on the heart rate from a previous session, if you know what I am saying. Let me begin by explaining a few things that might be helpful first:

Resting heart rate varies widely between individuals. A normal resting heart rate for a moderately fit person is between 60 and 70 beats per minute. Fit people tend to have lower resting heart rates, but this is only a general rule and not always the case. Your resting heart rate will probably decrease slightly as you improve in fitness.

Your ideal max heart rate is roughly given by the equation 220 minus your age. This provides an estimate for max heart rate. When you train for general fitness and weight loss, it is best to train at an intensity that corresponds to between 70 and 90% of this maximum heart rate. For example, you might do a 40 minute run at 75 to 80% of maximum, and this is a good session for weight loss and improved fitness. Generally, aim to train for between 30 and 45 minutes per session (at least) and on 4 to 5 days per week. The intensity, as mentioned, will range between 70 and 90% of maximum, depending on the exercise you do and the goals for that session. For improved performance, train at 85% of max and above. For weight loss and fitness, train at between 70 and 80% of maximum.

Do not get caught up in to believing the heart rate monitor as the final authority in your fitness level. The best way to use your heart rate monitor is to use it to compare training sessions from week to week. Therefore, if you train one day doing a particular session, take note of your heart rate. The next time you do the exact same session (say 30 minutes run at 12 km/hour), you should be able to compare your heart rate during the session. If it is lower, then it indicates that you are fitter than before, and your training is going well. If it is higher, then it shows that you are either tired, or training too hard or are possibly becoming ill. This is a sign that you are in need of a few easy training days.

It is important that you don't think of heart rate as the absolute indication of fitness or health. It is the differences between heart rates in exactly the same session that is important, and understanding how your own individual heart rate differs from week to week will allow you to train with great precision.

Lastly, remember that heart rate depends on many factors - hydration, mood, stress levels, temperature and so on. Therefore, if your heart rate is not exactly what you think it should be, don't worry too much. Rather look at long term changes and patterns in heart rate, and try to interpret them as I explained above.

Good luck
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.
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