How to Use a Heart Rate Monitor to Lose Weight

April 18, 2021

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Many people utilize technology to help simplify their lives, and fitness is no exception. Advancements in wearable tech have created devices that can track and analyze fitness statistics including steps and heart rate allowing individuals to better monitor and improve their health and well being.

Some of these devices include fitness trackers and fitness watches that not only function to track fitness statistics they look great and come in many different styles and colors. With these fun and functional devices, individuals can conveniently and easily track their fitness vitals and use them to lose weight and help develop a healthier lifestyle.  This is definitely a step in the right direction because according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approximately 610,000 people die from heart disease every year in the United States and one of the leading contributing factors for heart disease is excess weight and obesity.

At Heart Rate Watch Company, it is our goal to help people find the technology that can help them reach their fitness goals!

Heart Rate Defined

When it comes to exercise and losing weight, a couple of terms that are often heard are heart rate and target heart rate, but what do they mean?  Heart rate is simply the number of times your heart beats per minute.  Heart rate can be affected by exercise, medication, health conditions, and stress so it is important to understand and keep track of your heart rate. Target heart rate is 60% to 80% of your maximum heart rate and when you exercise you receive the most benefits if you are in your target heart rate. Once you have figured out your target heart rate, it is important to stay in this zone while exercising in order to get the most benefits from your workouts. The easiest way to keep track of your target heart rate is by using a heart rate monitor.

What is a Heart Rate Monitor?

A heart rate monitor is simply a device that you wear that is capable of measuring and displaying your heart rate. While you can measure your heart rate by stopping and checking your pulse, this is time-consuming and tedious, so many people opt to purchase a heart rate monitor so they can continuously exercise without stopping and checking their pulse.  Heart rate monitors also track and record heart rate during exercise and can display that information in graph form making it easier for the individual to see when and how to stay within their target heart rate zone to get the maximum benefits when they exercise.

Heart rate monitors come in different styles, and it is usually up to personal choice and what exercise you are planning on doing that determines which device you choose to use. Below is a description of the different types of heart rate monitors on the market:

  • Chest Strap

The chest strap heart monitor is a device that is strapped to an individual’s chest with a receiver worn on the wrist. The device strapped to the chest picks up the electrical signals sent out when the heart beats and then sends this data to the receiver where the heart rate is displayed. While chest straps offer effective heart rate monitoring, they can be uncomfortable because they can restrict breathing and chafe as well as turning into a sweatband that needs to be washed after every workout and let’s face it who has time to do that?

  • Wrist Sensor

Wrist sensor heart monitors are devices that are worn on the wrist that utilize LEDs to monitor blood flow and then transmit the data into pulse readings. Many people choose the wrist sensor because it is more convenient and comfortable and often comes equipped on a device they already have like a fitness watch. This is probably the most practical option as most people own and use watches so it is not cumbersome or uncomfortable and you will most likely have it on, so you do not have to worry about not having your heart rate monitor if you choose to slip in a quick workout.

  • Arm Band

Armband heart monitors work the same way wrist sensors do by analyzing light that is refracted off the flowing blood the only difference is the device is placed on the arm instead of the wrist. Much like the chest strap the armband monitor is an additional device that you have to use in addition to your phone or smartwatch and is placed a few inches from your wristwatch so it seems a bit counterproductive especially if you want to slip in a quick workout you need to make sure you always have it with you and you need to keep it clean and dry to avoid it from smelling.

  • Earbud

These devices work much the same way the fingertip clamps do that doctors often use to measure an individual’s pulse, by refracting light off flowing blood the difference being that they are worn in the ear.  Not quite sure about this device as it can be difficult keeping normal earbuds in your ears, and when listening to music while working out if someone wants to talk to me it is easiest just to pull out the earbud as opposed to turning down the volume and every time you do that you are no longer monitoring your heart rate.

While the type of heart monitor an individual chooses to wear is most likely for comfort and/or convenience, it is still an effective tool for helping to keep track of heart rate to ensure you are getting the most out of your workout. These devices have become very popular not only within the fitness community but among the population in general as they become more user-friendly and are included on devices like a fitness watches.

Heart Rate Monitors and Weight Loss

The best way to lose weight is to combine a healthy diet with exercise, and in order to get the most benefit out of your exercise routine, you need to make sure you are staying within your target heart rate zone.

Heart monitors can calculate and track your heart rate, so you can make sure you are exercising at the most beneficial level for what you are trying to achieve.  Target zones range from 50% of your maximum heart rate to 85% of your maximum heart rate, anything below is not intense enough, and anything above is too intense and is bordering on dangerous.  What level zone you work in  is going to be determined by factors such as age, weight, health conditions, or medications an individual is currently taking to name a couple. It is extremely important to check with your doctor before starting any exercise routine to make sure you are healthy enough to exercise.

Listed below are some of the target zones and their intensity level:

  • Maximum Heart Rate= 50%-60%

Intensity= Gentle

This is a level for individuals who have not been doing a regular exercise routine or if they are experiencing minor health issues exercising at this level 30 minutes a day will provide health benefits including reduced blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, reduced risk for developing diabetes, and will help to lower your cholesterol (Target Heart Rate Calculator).

  • Maximum Heart Rate= 60%-70%

Intensity= Comfortable

This level is for individuals who want to exercise at the optimal level for cardiovascular health along with strengthening muscles and increasing their cardio capacity. By exercising at this level 45- 60 minutes 4-6 days a week individuals will receive the most benefits (Target Heart Rate Calculator).

  • Maximum Heart Rate= 70%-80%

Intensity= Moderate

This level is the best for individuals who want to achieve the most weight loss benefits.  Individuals who exercise at this level 20-60 minutes 3-5 days a week will see the most weight loss as anything over 75% will cause the body to burn fat into fuel and burn off fat more efficiently and effectively (Target Heart Rate Calculator).

  • Maximum Heart Rate= 80%-90%

Intensity= Hard

This level is extremely hard to achieve and maintain and will leave individuals breathing and sweating excessively as they have reached the anaerobic level that is most beneficial for competitive athletes. Individuals who exercise at this level 10-30 minutes 1-2 days a week will improve their athletic performance and increase the lactate threshold of their body (Target Heart Rate Calculator).

  • Maximum Heart Rate= 90%-100%

Intensity= Maximum

This level is extremely uncomfortable and should be avoided by anyone who is not a competitive or professional athlete, and even then individuals should consult their doctor before exercising at this level. If an individual is healthy enough and has their doctor’s approval exercising at this level for short periods of time on an occasional basis will increase their speed (Target Heart Rate Calculator).

By using heart rate monitors, individuals can keep track of what level they are at, and it can help them burn fat more efficiently and improve weight loss. Some exercises that will help individuals reach and maintain their fat-burning level are tennis, cycling, jogging, brisk walking, and even ballroom dancing to name a few. It is important to find an exercise that you enjoy and start off slowly in order to keep and maintain a fitness regimen that works for you, let’s face it your target heart rate isn’t very helpful for losing weight or improving health if you are sitting on your couch.

Best Watch Options for Weight Loss

Now that you have a better understanding of heart rate and heart rate zones and how exercise combined with a heart rate monitor can help individuals lose weight, what heart rate monitor should you choose?  Most heart rate monitors come down to personal preference, comfort, and price.  Below are some of the top-rated heart monitors for weight loss:

  1. Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate + Fitness Wristband

The Fitbit Charge 2 is an excellent choice for individuals who want to use a heart rate monitor to lose weight because it has the ability to track cardio, sleep, calories burned, and heart rate right from your wrist making it easy to keep up with your weight loss goals. This heart rate monitor has the ability to work in many different sports modes so you can vary your exercise routines and still stay in the proper zone for maximum weight loss which helps individuals stay active by allowing them to vary the workout routines and avoid boredom.

  1. Garmin Forerunner 235

The Garmin Forerunner 235 is a heart rate sensor that works on your wrist so you do not have to mess with a chest strap and is fully customizable and has the ability to track and comprise your essential exercise data into simple and easy to read charts and graphs so you can make sure you are staying in the proper zone for your weight loss goals. With downloadable apps and social media sharing, individuals can compete in challenges with friends and help motivate one another to stay the course and reach their weight loss goals.

  1. Polar M200 and H10 Bluetooth Heart Rate Sensor

The Polar M200 is an excellent heart rate monitor for individuals looking to lose weight because it has the ability to track heart rate, workout intensity, and calories burned so individuals can be assured they are in the proper zone to burn the most fat. The Polar M200 works alone by using the wrist-based heart rate sensor or it can be combined with the H10 Bluetooth heart rate sensor strap for more accurate heart rate readings.

  1. Wahoo TICKR

The Wahoo TICKR is a chest strap heart rate monitor that can be paired with many fitness apps and devices including smartphones, fitness bands, smartwatches, etc.  Wahoo TICKR is one of the most accurate heart rate chest straps and with its pairing versatility it makes a great choice for individuals wanting to lose weight.

  1. Bose SoundSport Pulse

Bose SoundSport Pulse is sports headphones that come with a built-in heart rate sensor that has the ability to track your heart rate in real time and listen to your favorite music all in one device making exercising more enjoyable.

Regardless of the type or brand of heart rate monitor, you choose the most important part is to stay within your optimal heart rate zone to ensure that you are at the proper level for your weight loss goals. Pick an exercise or exercises that you can stick with and do not try to do too much right out of the gate. It is up to you whether you prefer simple and straightforward heart rate monitor or one with all the bells and whistles.

Final Thoughts

In the hectic and fast-paced world, we live in it can often be hard to find the time to exercise and stay healthy. One way to exercise more efficiently is to stay within your target heart rate zone. Thankfully there are devices that can monitor and keep track of your heart rate, so you know when you are in the “zone,” and your exercise is providing the most benefit for weight loss. Heart rate monitors offer a more convenient and efficient way to track your heart rate, and you no longer have to stop and take your pulse, you now have a device to do that for you. With a variety of heart rate monitors on the market, there is sure to be the right one out there for anyone and everyone. So get out there today strap on your heart rate monitor and put your health and fitness first.

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