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Question
Posted by: Chick | 2008/06/25

Heart Rate

Hi there
I try to go to gym often as I can. This probably works out to once a week.

However, when I do excercise I realise that my heart rate peaks and the machine tells me my heart rate is too high. I am not exerting myself that much either. Could this be because I am unfit?

Thanks

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageFitnessDoc

Hi there

I'm not a big fan of heart rate during training, for a number of reasons. one is that the machines don't know your fitness levels, and so of course someone who is unfit will get the same advice as someone who is fit, and that doesn't work! So yes, part of your situation might be because you are unfit.

There are some other factors as well, 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. This range is so wide because people are so different and that's why what works for one person does not necessarily work for another. I get quite irritated by what is often written about heart rate training, because you will read that you have to keep your heart rate in a certain range otherwise you don't get the right benefits, or it's dangerous etc. This is just not true. I have come across very good runners, who, if they tried to obey this rule, would be walking just to make sure their heart rate did not get too high. You can't tell people like that that they must slow down because they are not getting fitter. Similarly, I know people who have a naturally low heart rate, and for them to get their HR up to the 'ideal' range, they just about have to sprint until they collapse from exhaustion two minutes later. So the bottom line is that the actual value of your heart rate is not that important, it's ranges that you can use, but don't get too hung on the number. What you need to do instead is use your own heart rate from one day to the next to help you understand how your training is developing.

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.

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 exmanication, 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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Our users say:
Posted by: Des | 2008/07/04

If you are talking about those machines at VA, I had the same issues, when I first started training about 4 weeks ago, I went on that bike thing, you know the one which you take a 10 min ride to nowhere on? well it kept on telling me my heart rate was too high. I used to get SO embarrassed, I used to quickly pull my hands off the handles so nobody would see how unfit I was. So I would say, for the first week of so don’t monitor your heart beat on the machines, its just scary and may even increase your heart rate. From the second week start checking you will notice things should get better, also by this time you should be used to the usual people around and you should feel a lot more confident. I am 4 weeks into things and my heart rate according the different machines I use has improved, I mean lastnite I did a 20 min workout on the bike to nowhere and it stayed below 100, I was so CHUFFED I smiled the whole evening. Also I lost 4 and half kg’s in the 4 weeks and in the first week and half I went from size 36 to size 34, so I am impressed, nee way happy gyming...

Reply to Des
Posted by: Zexeon | 2008/06/26

After exercising you could check how long it takes for your hart rate to return to normal to determine if you are fit, maybe you could also determine if you hart rate peak are n't due to a sickness.

Reply to Zexeon

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