Whether you are working out in your health club or outdoors exerting, keep your heart rate monitor on to ensure that you are keeping track of your exercise performance data. Every action you take matters and counts toward your health and fitness goals, specifically the caloric expenditure. However, differentiate between your structured workouts and recreational, or activities of daily living (ADL), so that you are aware of the specific expenditure of calories when you are performing structured workouts.
Check out the following five guidelines to ensure that your monitoring device is providing you with the desired data to continue adhering to your program and progressing. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
Guideline #1 All devices have specific data tracking mechanisms, however, unless you are attempting to download the data into a spreadsheet and follow all aspects of your training in this manner, the device itself will usually track the caloric expenditure, your average/maximum heart rate and the duration of the program. This information may be stored in a file, daily/weekly/monthly on the device and you may refer to it to contrast and compare the results.
Guideline #2 Understand there are three general elements that contribute to caloric expenditure—body weight (i.e. the heavier you are the more calories you may expend as more energy is required to move a larger mass through space and time); gender (men, generally expend more than women as they carry more muscle mass which requires more energy to move through space and time) and intensity (hands down, the harder you work, the more calories you will tend to expend). Consequently, for most individuals, a 30-minute challenging workout should be expending north of 300kcal. Does this mean that a 60-minute challenging workout will expend 600kcal? Not necessarily; however, if you refer to your device and after half of your workout is complete, you have not expended at least half of the total calories you intend to expend, then you need to get busy!
Guideline #3 Keep in mind that devices often utilize the age-predicted maximal heart rate formula to calculate your target heart rate zone and it is not scientifically based, which leads to inaccurate target heart rate zone data. And, that then impacts the caloric expenditure data. Therefore, take the time, which I have mentioned in previous columns, to have your functional threshold test or submaximal heart rate test performed by a fitness professional so that your data applies specifically to you and it is as accurate as possible.
Guideline #4 Things change! So, as your fitness level improves, you will need to modify the data that is stored in your device. For example, if your goal is to reduce body weight, then the body weight data you enter will not be accurate over time as you lose that weight. This requires you to reprogram your device to accurately reflect the current body weight. Additionally, as you become fitter, your target heart rate zone may change as well, so you will need to be re-tested and new data entered into the device.
Guideline #5 To that point—only wear your own devices as you want the data output to be specifically applied to you.