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Pump it Down

Racing the invisible miles on the treadmill, you grasp tightly on to the handlebars to check your heart rate. Or you may have had a sensor attached to you all along. Whether you use it or not—or even care—you definitely have noticed that the heart rate monitoring option on exercise equipment.

For the best results from an exercise routine, many trainers believe you should work out within your target heart rate range. Based on your resting heart rate and your age, a mathematical formula known as the Karvonen Formula can help you calculate yours, but this is often not the most accurate information. Don’t fret if you aren’t pumping blood at a “maximum” heart rate—it does mean you need to work out double the time. But it doesn’t not necessarily mean your exercise performance is lacking, according to The New York Times. In fact, as you become a more active individual who works out more frequently, your maximum heart rate will decrease, as will your resting heart rate.

So why track on machines or with your own strap-across-your-chest equipment? If you just want to meet a goal of lowering your heart rate, it’s a great idea. For everyday workouts, no extra gadgets are required. But individuals training for marathons or other competitions should keep track of their heart rate to avoid serious health conditions.

Getting in shape isn’t about mathematical equations. Exercise and you’ll feel it working—and that’s something numbers can’t really tell you. [The New York Times]

Posted: 4/11/08