As a follow-up to my previous post, I thought I would blog about heart rate monitors. I use one myself, when I go trotting around the neighbourhood.
The model I use has three parts - a wrist watch, a chest strap and a little shoe pod. As you run, the chest strap device and the shoe pod will continuously capture information and transmit it to the watch.
By looking at your watch, you can find out your heart rate, your average running speed and the distance you’ve covered. Depending on the model, you can also check how many calories you’ve burned, how much running you did in the aerobic/anaerobic range, and so on.
For me, what’s the most useful function of a heart rate monitor? Well, the watch automatically starts beeping when my heart rate rises or falls below certain thresholds. If my heart rate falls below the lower threshold, it means that I’m not pushing myself hard enough and therefore not really getting any cardiovascular benefits – I should run faster. But if my heart rate rises above the upper threshold, it means that I could be pushing myself too hard and should stop or slow down.
Monitoring the upper threshold is important to me because I was born with certain heart defects. According to medical science, those heart defects are not a good reason for me to refrain from physical exercise. However, also according to medical science, those heart defects make me a better candidate for sudden cardiac arrest than a completely normal person.
Since medical science can be such a contradictory pain in the neck, I take the middle ground, by exercising, but not too hard. And my heart rate monitor helps me to do that.
(For those of you who are wondering, yes, there are ways to roughly calculate how fast or slow your heart should beat during exercise, depending on your fitness goals. Click here for more information about training heart ranges).
Just in case I gave anyone the wrong impression, the heart rate monitor is not a medical device. In other words, it wasn’t invented to help heart patients exercise safely. It was invented to help serious athletes and fitness enthusiasts to train for optimal performance.
Thus there is no scientific study (as far as I know) proving that the use of a heart rate monitor can help to reduce the risk of sudden cardiac arrest (whether in serious athletes, ordinary folks or heart patients). Nevertheless it seems logical to me that this should be the case.
This post comes too late, of course, to help the Unfortunate Major.