Tracking heart rate while running is an easy way to ensure that individuals diagnosed with cardiovascular disease are exercising at a safe intensity. In addition, tracking heart rate can benefit both those who are interested in weight loss, as well as for athletes who wish to increase athletic performance; heart rate is a good indicator of the aerobic intensity of a workout. Heart rate monitors can usually be found at most sporting goods or outdoor stores, as well as on the Internet.
One main benefit of tracking heart rate while running is that it can help to ensure that exercise intensity levels are safe. This is especially important for those who have been diagnosed with heart disease or other heart-related conditions. Patients who have suffered from a heart attack or stroke, or have been diagnosed with another form of cardiovascular disease are typically encouraged to keep their heart rate below 70 percent of their maximal rate. Maximal heart rate is usually obtained through participation in a cardiovascular stress test, or through other form of examination. A heart rate monitor can help runners determine whether or not they are staying below their prescribed target heart rate.
Evaluating heart rate while running can also be of benefit for people who are interested in burning fat. Though running will almost always result in decreases in weight, significant aesthetic differences can occur in fat versus muscle loss. Most people who are specifically interested in weight loss prefer to lose as much fat tissue as possible. To do this, exercise must be done at an aerobic level, which is typically around 40 to 60 percent of maximal heart rate. While individuals who have chronic health conditions must undergo stringent testing to determine their target heart rate, healthy members of the public can do so at gyms, health clubs, and community fairs.
Individuals who are interested in improving athletic performance can also benefit from paying attention to their heart rate while running. To improve athletic performance, heart rates should be kept in an anaerobic zone, which typically is defined as between 60 and 90 percent of maximal heart rate. At these higher levels of exercise, the heart and cardiovascular system are strengthened, resulting in significant improvements in aerobic function. This is important for runners, cyclists, swimmers, and others who are interested in improving their cardiovascular system. Exercising at these intensities should not be done every day, however, due to significant risks associated with athlete burnout and potential overuse injuries.