How to Check Your Heart Rate, and Why You Should.
“I hate doing cardio” is something I get a lot, but cardiovascular exercise is essential for heart, lung, and mental health.
Short term, the trick to making it a regular part of your routine is to begin slowly, working up to a moderate amount doing something you enjoy. For the long term, it’s crucial you find a type of cardio that you make a lifetime sport—that is, a sport you can safely do for the rest of your life. It might be swimming or hiking, fencing or jogging, but there are lots more options: having sex, handball, stair-climbing, elliptical machines, sprinting, boxing, spinning, step-classes, jumping rope, ladder running, tennis, racquetball, rowing, urban rebounding are a few.
Before, during, and after cardio, you should monitor your heart rate. Here’s how: Look at a clock and count the number of times your heart beats for 6 seconds. Multiply that number by 10, and you have your heart rate. Your “cardio exercise” heart rate should be somewhere between 55-85% of your maximum heart rate. To determine your maximum heart rate, (V02 max) take 220 and subtract your age. For example, I’m 34 years old, so my V02 max is 186 beats per minute. Therefore, my heart rate should be somewhere between 102 and 158 beats per minute during cardio.
Many cardio machines have built-in heart rate monitors already. You can also buy a wrist watch which checks your heart rate. Or you can also use a tool like Heart Monitor, an application for iPhone 3G that monitors and tracks your heart rate over time.