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On the 12th Day of Christmas My Trainer Gave to Me....

The first gift in our 12 Days of Fitness Gifts Countdown? An affordable, easy to understand Heart Rate Monitor to track your training zones! Do you know how hard are you actually working?

....a Heart Rate Monitor

With many of my clients weight loss and/or cardiovascular fitness is a main goal. One of the first things I suggest is to purchase a simple heart rate monitor. Nothing fancy or complicated is necessary, now you can buy them at places like Target or Walmart along with the usual sporting goods stores. Over the years I've had a few "Polar" brand monitors and they have worked very nicely for me, but there are other reliable brands out there.

Here are some great reasons I encourage people to invest in a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM). Many times a person will think they are working out hard enough, but they really aren't. Or sometimes it's the complete opposite and they are killing themselves unnecessarily! I've had clients joke that they like me because I tell them to exercise less!! Crazy trainer!! The average person can avoid long ineffective workouts or staying in that anaerobic zone too long-and still reap the maximum benefits. As you become more fit you will also see that it's easier to return your heart rate to your average rate after working out-your heart becomes so much more efficient!!

As a trainer, I also like to know what my client's heart rate is throughout our session, particularly if they are what I would consider "high risk"-anyone with health issues, pregnancy, chronic illness or even extremely overweight. That number is especially helpful to know when it might be risky for a person to take their heart rate too high. I try to avoid literally killing anyone, for real.

Your HRM will come with instructions to personalize your monitor by helping you calculate what your "work zone" goal will be. Most also come with suggestions as how to use this information to create a workout based on your goals. You can also set a timer to go off if you drop below or go above your working zone, but here's bit of advice, unless you need it for safety reason-don't set the timer! The beeping can be highly annoying since it may go off frequently  :/  Can we say "obnoxious"?

Interval Training has gotten more popular over the years and using your heart rate as a guide to increase and decrease the intensity of your workout will bring you fast results in the shortest amount of time! Who doesn't want that?? Use the monitor for walking/running intervals. Run until your heart rate pops into your "high zone", hold it there for a minute, and bring the number back down to your "work zone". Repeat. Or check your heart rate while you are doing strength training, it is amazing how high your heart rate can go when you are doing certain exercises.

Experiment with your new HRM and have fun working out!!

Well...that does it for today's gift! Tune in tomorrow for my next suggestion

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Allison Bryan January 04, 2013 at 04:53 PM
Sue - Studies show that women who exercise regularly, eat properly, get enough sleep and find satisfaction in their work and personal lives have less depression, anxiety and illnesses. Your blog on Yorkville Patch is an ideal outlet to encourage women to practice self-care. We'd like to invite you to participate in an upcoming women's health event hosted in Plano in Yorkville. Please contact me at your earliest convenience at abryan@kishhealth.org, or 815.786.3788. Thanks, Allison Bryan
Sue Smith January 04, 2013 at 05:35 PM
Allison~I would be honored to participate in your event! I am passionate about how often our self image is determined by how we perceive our physical selves. I will be in contact with you soon. You may also email me at suesmithgetufit@gmail.com Thanks, Sue

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