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Cardio 2. The Significance of Heart Rate Monitoring in Physical Training

In the previous article, we discussed the importance of exercise for maintaining health and reducing excess body weight.

Moderate-intensity aerobic physical activities with controlled heart rate (HR) are considered the most effective and beneficial.

Now, let’s explore the various methods used to control HR during physical activity.

How to register heart rate?

Until recently, the only available method for measuring HR during training involved periodically palpating the arteries and manually counting the beats using a stopwatch. This process required interrupting the workout, taking time to count, and either writing down or memorizing the results. Clearly, this method was both inconvenient and insufficient for effectively monitoring and controlling HR.

To ensure effective dosing of physical activity, it is necessary to consistently monitor and record HR. Additionally, it is beneficial to have these recorded numbers readily visible during the initial stages of training.

Currently, the most suitable method for monitoring HR during physical activity is by using a chest strap equipped with a sensor that registers electrical heart impulses. Alternatively, optical sensors found in wrist fitness trackers and smartwatches are also commonly used. While optical sensors offer convenience and simplicity, it is worth noting that they are generally less accurate, particularly during exercise when HR increases. Additionally, they may not integrate well with HR recording apps.

Why constantly record heart rate?

By monitoring your HR readings during training, you can easily adjust your physical activity levels in real time. It’s a simple process! When you notice that your HR exceeds the desired limit, gradually reduce the intensity of your exercises until your HR returns to a normal range. Conversely, if your HR drops below the desired value, gradually increase the intensity of your exercises. In essence, throughout your entire workout, you will be able to maintain a precise HR interval.

This approach offers several benefits:

  • You can exercise at a specific and measurable activity level, providing you with clear feedback and progress tracking.
  • Your training will be consistently effective, ensuring that you reach the desired level of intensity and make the most of your workout time.
  • Additionally, by monitoring your HR, you can avoid overexertion and potential negative impacts on your health.

Problems of too high and too low physical activity levels.

if the physical activity level during training is too low, it will be ineffective and a waste of time. While it may not be dangerous, it can lead to a loss of motivation and the tendency to abandon such training.

As mentioned earlier, training at excessively high HR can lead to adaptive changes in the heart, specifically myocardial hypertrophy, which refers to an increase in the thickness of the left ventricular wall. This condition can contribute to various cardiovascular diseases and is commonly known as ‘Athlete’s Heart’.

The left ventricle of the heart is responsible for supplying blood to the body’s tissues. Similar to how skeletal muscles increase in mass and size through strength training, the left ventricular muscle can also undergo hypertrophy, or an increase in size, with regular physical activity.

As a result of hypertrophy, the left ventricle wall thickens and the size of the heart increases. An enlarged muscle demands greater nutrition and energy, necessitating an increased blood supply to meet these requirements.

While at a young age, this is typically not a problem, in mature and older individuals, the blood supply may not be fully adequate, leading to insufficient oxygen and nutrient delivery to the heart muscle. This can result in myocardial ischemia, a condition where the heart muscle lacks proper blood flow. As a consequence, the myocardial condition can significantly deteriorate, leading to a reduction in cardiac efficiency and producing the opposite result.

The issue also stems from the fact that the phenomenon of the “athlete’s heart” has predominantly been studied among athletes who differ significantly from the general population. There is a scarcity of research on the effects of training on untrained individuals, especially those in middle-aged and older age groups. Most of the existing studies primarily examine cardiac function parameters, paying little attention to the morphological condition of the myocardium itself.

Therefore, we can draw the conclusion that in order to avoid negative consequences and make workouts as effective as possible, it is advisable to consistently monitor HR and train within a specific HR range.

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