Heart rate control and heart rate monitors became popular on fitness equipment in the mid-90s. You will find it standard on many exercise machines including treadmills, elliptical trainers and stationary bikes. A treadmill with a heart rate monitor only monitors your heart rate by contact with the sidebars. The heart rate control feature allows you to control your workout by specifying a heart rate zone you wish to maintain.
To get an optimum workout it is important to pace your exercise. You want your heart rate at the proper intensity level for an extended period of time. If your heart rate gets too high your activity can become counter productive, if it is too low you are not getting any substantial health benefits.
One of the most effective methods for fitness training is through monitoring and controlling your heart rate. This is particularly true when striving for cardiovascular goals. Whether you want to shed a few pounds, train for a marathon, or just feel good about yourself, heart rate training and control can optimize your workout.
Sally Edwards, author of “Heart Rate Training” discusses the value of heart zone training. It works for 20-year old athletes as well as 70-year olds with heart trouble. The goal is to get into a particular zone. She identifies 5 zones ranging from:
The Healthy Heart Zone: 50% – 60% of your individual maximum heart rate. This is a safe, comfortable zone reached by briskly walking.
The Temperate Zone: 60% – 70% of your individual maximum heart rate. Achieved through a slow jog.
The Aerobic Zone: 70% – 80% of your individual maximum heart rate. Achieved through an easy jog.
The Anaerobic Threshold Zone: 80% – 90% of your individual maximum heart rate. Achieved through a “burning” run.
Edwards suggests that after determining your maximum heart rate you can improve your fitness by exercising in several different zones. You alternate in those zones to increase your cardiovascular fitness and vary your exercise regimen. You can view the entire article at http://www.howtobefit.com/trn5zone.htm.
These days heart rate control is a standard feature on many exercise machines. There are two types of heart rate control, handgrip and wireless. On treadmills the handgrip heart rate control requires holding on to stationary handlebars. It is awkward for walking, and just not feasible when you are running. There is only one type of heart rate control that makes sense, and that is wireless.
With wireless control you attach a strap around your chest and your heart rate is fed to the console. This in turn controls the intensity of your workout by keeping your cardio exercise within a predetermined heart rate.
With certain treadmills you can either have the HRC maintain a consistent and targeted heart rate. You can also set it for interval heart rates, training in different zones. You can program the treadmill for desired workouts that vary the heart rate to your desired goals.
The programs available with heart rate control can vary. Some come with just one heart rate program, while high-end models, like the Life Fitness, have up to (5) separate program like hill training, intervals and extreme heart rate.
When losing weight and improving your cardiovascular health it all comes down to heart rate. Monitoring your heart and working out within zones will enhance your overall health and physical performance. If you are going to invest in quality fitness equipment you should consider the heart rate control feature.
In a sense, heart rate control becomes your personal trainer. By monitoring your heart rate and adjusting your workout accordingly, you stay within your desired goal, and avoid over or under exerting yourself. It takes your treadmill workout to an optimum level.
Note: Within your budget if you have a choice between a quality treadmill without heart rate control, and a mediocre model with control, go for the quality. You may find that some of budget models of the better manufacturers come without control. While cheap treadmills from Icon Fitness may include it. Don’t sacrifice quality for bells and whistles.