I think everyone has an opinion about the effectiveness of heart rate monitors. Some people swear by them and will not do a workout without their heart rate monitor to get an idea of calories burned (guilty) whereas a number of people think they are useless and not a good indication of calories burned.
I think heart rate monitors are a necessity when working out and here’s why. When I first started exercising a few years ago, I didn’t use a heart rate monitor. I would estimate my calories burned based on the level of effort I put in and how much I was sweating afterwards. I would erroneously think I had burned 500 calories in 30 minutes and then go throughout my day armed with the knowledge that I had burned that many calories. I didn’t track what I consumed either and didn’t consider that calories add up really fast.
Well, at the end of the first month of the particular workout program I was doing at that time, I happily took myself to the scale and I had gained 6 pounds! I didn’t lose any inches either, so I had basically wasted a whole month of my time for zero results. Something wasn’t adding up here. I did research on gaining weight while exercising and eating healthily and since I knew the weight gain wasn’t because of muscle increase, the only other answer had to be that I wasn’t burning as much as I thought I was and I was consuming more than I thought I was. Okay, so now what to do?
I went online and purchased a heart rate monitor. This was four years ago and I’m still using the same one, it is awesome. I’ll post the link in case you want to get one. But I digress. The monitor arrived and the very next day I strapped it on and proceeded with my workout. Would you believe that at the end of the thirty minute workout, where I worked my butt off and was sweating like a pig, I only burned 205 calories! Oh my gosh! This couldn’t be true. This was nowhere close to the 500 calories I thought I was burning! I used it again the next day, 195 calories burned, the next day 199 calories burned. What in the world?!
I installed the “MyFitnessPal” app on my phone and started counting calories, and surprise, surprise, where I thought I was only consuming 1200 calories, I was actually consuming close to 2000! Well, there you have it, mystery solved! Turns out my calculations were completely off and not even close. No wonder I wasn’t seeing any results! Well, I tell you what, you won’t catch me working out without my heart rate monitor, no sir! I use it now for all my workouts and also when I go running.
Polar FT7 Heart Rate Monitor, Lilac/Pink
The thing is, without a heart rate monitor to tell you how well you did during a workout, you have no idea how much you burned. Sweating and being out of breathe isn’t an indication of calories burned, it could be that you are just a sweater or maybe a little out of shape. Counting calories with an app is very important as well and should go hand in hand with working out if you are trying to lose weight. Calories add up really fast and the bite of this here, or snack of that there quickly add up. MyFitnessPal has a bank of calories for menu items from different restaurants and even has the calorie count for drinks like wine, beer and mixed drinks as well as recipes from sites like foodnetwork.com so I like it a lot.
Next time, you are busting you butt exercising and eating healthily and notice no results at all, consider using a heart rate monitor and food tracker so see how you are really doing, I promise you won’t regret it.
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