I’ve owned a heart rate monitor for some time; even dipped into the world of wearable tech with a recent purchase of a Fitbit Blaze. I’ve used both to gauge the intensity of my workouts but mostly to tell me how many calories I had burned (and how much wine I could then drink. =)
I then did some more reading on high intensity interval training (HIIT) and the importance of hitting heart rate targets for both the high intensity and recover parts. Often times, HIIT intervals are broken out by time (e.g. 1 minute high intensity, 30 seconds recover). For a more efficient workout, both time AND heart rate should be a factor. I won’t go into too much detail on this post. In fact, I’ll save the detail for a later post where I can discuss it with a certified professional. But I did want to highlight the importance of using a heart rate monitor during all types and levels of activity.
…especially while traveling!
So here are my thoughts on traveling with a heart rate monitor
- It maximizes your time – Again, without getting too technical, heart rates for HIIT training should alternate 70-90% of max your heart with 60-65% of max heart rate. By using your heart rate as an indication of how long you should keep going, you could adjust the time you are going ‘all out’ and the time you are taking to recover. You may not need that full minute of recovery or you may not be able to go a full minute ‘all out’ if your heart is telling you no. Point is, structure your workout by what your heart is telling you, not the clock. You could actually shave time off that HIIT workout and get back to work or your travel plans.
- Similarly, you can set and reach caloric goals quicker. I am a big proponent of chest straps. I’ve done my own comparisons between heart rate monitors vs. cardio equipment and heart rate monitors vs. optical heart rates (found in Fitbits). I found the monitors with chest straps to be more accurate. Of course the caveat is that I was using my chest strap readings as the source of comparison. Regardless, by measuring output and tracking your caloric expenditures you can set daily and weekly targets. Which I think is SUPER important in planning workouts around and during travel. The one pound of fat for 3,500 calories is a loose way to look at it. Really, it is much more complicated than that BUT if you wanted to set out to burn a few more calories than you consumed then you could use a heart rate monitor or smartwatch to tell you exactly what your burn rate was. Oh look, I’m throwing consulting jargon into my posts now. Worlds colliding.
- It’s safer – Regardless of whether you are taking a class while traveling (I’m looking at you, you lucky Canyon Ranch wellness travelers) or while home, it’s always better to listen to your heart first and an instructor second. Let’s say you’re getting your only work out in of the week because work and life and more work derailed you. You now want to make the most of that spin class you signed up for and start cranking out RPMs. The instructor is telling you go, go, go. You’re punishing yourself for those late night work hours, Chinese food takeouts and the glass (read: bottle) of wine you drank. So you’re going and going, faster and faster. I’ve done that before and like I mentioned earlier, only recently started paying more attention to that heart rate monitor of mine. What I found was that I was pushing myself WAYYYYY too far. I mean 190 heart rate and up. I mean screw the ‘can-you-talk-while-working-out-test’ more like are-you-going-to-vomit-test. So, I dialed back and listened to what the good ol’ blood pumper was telling me. Instead of ‘going, going, going’ at the instructors beck and call I was going and evaluating, going and evaluating. There were often times where go, go, go was not possible. I had went and already reached that level of intensity I needed to see results. Similarly, when the instructor said ‘you should be in your red zone’ I knew what she meant. The monitor was telling me I was there.
- It will make you move – (this is a specific benefit of 24/7 fitness trackers). As travelers we sit in an airport, to then sit on a plane, to then sit in a conference room. If you’re traveling out the same day, that means more sitting and waiting in airports and planes. That’s a lot of god damn sitting. Fitness trackers alert you to move every hour when you haven’t met your hourly ‘step targets.’ I’ve always made it a point to walk around the airport (unless I sat down to enjoy the airport’s finest delicacies). It’s always easier when I have no luggage but even then I take my Tumi 4-wheeler and walk. I walk, I explore and I get the blood moving. But if you need some accountability and an extra reminder, then a smartwatch/fitness tracker is definitely the way to go.
So I guess that was a really long way of saying that a heart rate monitor allows you to get the job done more efficiently and effectively and as travelers, those are two words we LOVE to hear. It’s also safer, less stressful on the heart and provides you with a level of accountability when traveling and sitting in airports.
Do you have your eye on monitors or trackers for the holiday season? The Polar FT4 I’ve linked to here and above is an older model but has served me well for years. Curious to hear how many of you have trackers/heart rate monitors.