Exercise and Heart Rate Monitor

So…. back to exercise and my treadmill…. walking…..

I’ve been swimming once a week for about 8 months now. I go and swim for an hour on my back (can’t swim on my front because of my short arms and arthritic neck). I wear swimming fins (shortened flippers) which help me move through the water but also provide greater resistance so my legs/ankles have to work harder to power me through the water. BUT I wanted something to help me with cardio vascular exercise.

So to recap, about two weeks ago, I borrowed my ex husbands treadmill with a view to being able to start exercising regularly. Bear in mind, I’ve not walked for 10 years (in the proper sense of the word). I know because of the weight loss that my fitness has already improved. I don’t feel as if I’m having a heart attack when I over exert myself now! My asthma seems to have vanished.

I planned to start by walking quarter of a mile. However, on my first attempt, I walked half a mile. I did this at a slow pace (1.7 mph) and I had to stop every five minutes. But I did it.

I have been visiting a personal trainer (one assessment and one session last Friday), because I recognize that I need to make sure I don’t overdo it. And I bought my HRM because I wanted to monitor any improvements in my fitness levels and ensure that I was giving my heart a really good work out.

Interesting results!  

My treadmill measures calories as I walk, based on distance and speed, etc.  It tells me after 15 minutes of walking at 1.7mph I have used 53 calories.

So I don my HRM.  It’s in two parts.  A chest strap that fits snugly around the lower chest under my bra.  A watch device (doesn’t need to be worn, just in the vicinity of the chest monitor so it picks up the heart beat) which records what the monitor is picking up (my heart rate).  You set your age and the heart rate you want to achieve (see the graph below, which shows heart rates based on age and the varying levels of exercise – from “light” to “hard”).

So I’ve been using the HRM to monitor my calorie burn during my 20 minutes walking (with two stops, not letting my HR return to less than 120bpm). It took me 29 minutes (20 mins walking, 9 mins resting), my average speed was 1.7mph. My average heart rate during the session was 140bpm, the highest it got to was 159bpm. My HRM tells me I burned 390 calories!  From this, I have to take away “background calories”.  Those are the calories you burn just by being alive (but not moving), so when you are “at rest”.  

So the Treadmill estimates my regular 20 minute walk would earn me 53 calories. However, my HRM tells me I earned 390 calories during the 29 minutes – which minus background calories leaves me with 281 calories. That’s over 200 calories more!!  When I am walking, my heart enters the “aerobic” level of working for about half the time, and works “moderately” for the remainder of the time.

Andy has tried the monitor.  Bearing in mind he is 9 years younger, fitter, lighter, etc. he walked for 30 minutes at 4mph (twice my speed) and his heart rate got to the “light” level only.  He hardly broke a sweat!

So – purpose of this post is to (1) encourage EVERYONE to try and do some form of exercise and (2) to encourage people to use HRM’s to give themselves a more accurate idea of just how hard – or not – they are working themselves.

I kind of thought I was burning a lot more than the treadmill or the weight loss website I am using were giving me, but I hadn’t realized that the difference would be quite so mammoth!!!

If anyone wants to ask me more, please do!  The HRM I purchased is a Polar FT2, about £38.00 from Amazon.

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