What is meant by aerobic heart rate, and what bearing does this have on your health and fitness?
When we exercise with moderate intensity for prolonged periods of time, we are using our aerobic energy system to provide our muscles with energy. This means we use lots of oxygen to help burn our stores of energy (carbohydrates, fats, and some protein) to provide fuel to drive our muscles.
Which is why we breathe harder during exercise, to take in more oxygen to meet the demands of the exercise. So basically aerobic heart rate refers to your heart rate whilst performing aerobic exercise.
Should you monitor your Aerobic Heart Rate?
The extremely unhelpful answer is…it depends!
Really it’s down to you and your specific goals. Do you just want to become more active, to burn a few extra calories and lead a healthier lifestyle? Or are you at the stage where you want to progress with your fitness and push yourself a little harder and challenge yourself physically?
If you aren’t interested in improving your running times and speeds (or whatever your aerobic activity) then really you could argue whether it is important to monitor your heart rate at all during exercise. It would still be worth monitor your resting heart rate over time to check your overall fitness, but there is little point in monitoring your individual aerobic sessions.
But if you do want to push yourself, to run those 5k or 10k races a little faster, then monitoring your aerobic heart rate becomes really useful. To do this, you really need a sports heart rate monitor. They work by telling you what your heart rate is and indicating whether you need to be working harder or easing up a little. It really just keeps you working at the required intensity for however long your sessions lasts.
With progressive training, the theory is that you will be able to do more with the same intensity exercise after a sticking to a dedicated workout plan. For example, if you ran for 20 minutes with a heart rate of 150 beats per minute, and then repeated this run 8 weeks later after sticking to your dedicated aerobic exercise regime, you should then be able to run even further in your 20 minutes even though you maintain you workout intensity at 150 beats per minute!
So really, the answer to whether you should monitor your heart rate really depends on your ultimate goals.
What bearing does heart rate have on health and fitness?
There is generally a direct correlation between fitness and health. The fitter you are, the healthier you are. (Obviously this doesn’t take into account illnesses and injuries, etc. with debilitating effects.)
And a direct measure (and monitor) of your fitness is your heart rate. The fitter you are, the lower your heart rate will be.
This is because your heart is a muscle, and the stronger it becomes the more blood it can pump round your body with each beat. Therefore it needs to beat less frequently to pump the require amount of blood to your muscles and organs.
So working on your fitness by sticking to a dedicated aerobic exercise regime will have a direct impact on your health. What a great motivator!
If you want some good ideas to build you exercise regime, take a look at the list of aerobic activities and also the free workout plans. This is a good place to start.
And If you have any questions regarding aerobic heart rate and your health and fitness (or anything related to fitness for that matter) then just ask them in the Fitness Forum. Someone from the home fitness community will have a great answer for you.