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Why should I track my heart rate?

David Buer
Fitness
Tracking your heart rate is a way to gauge how hard your heart is working. When first starting a workout program or getting active, your heart has to work a lot harder to keep up with your body’s demands for blood and oxygen. If you work out on a regular basis, your aerobic system gradually becomes more efficient, which is a factor in determining that it may be time to step up the intensity of your workouts.

Your doctor may advise you to monitor your heart rate if you're incorporating a fitness routine while dealing with a heart condition. It can also be performance aid for serious athletes like cyclists, runners and swimmers who are looking to really optimize their results.
Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, MD
Emergency Medicine
Tracking your heart rate is a great measurement for when you're exercising. You want to make sure you're in a good zone for cardiovscular activity -- your heart rate should be high enough to give you a good workout. It's also good to know how quickly heart rate gets back to normal. In general, heart rate is a good measure of athleticism and cardiac function.
Keith Roach, MD
Internal Medicine
You should track your heart rate during exercise so that you’re working out at a level that is both safe and optimally effective. A lot of people when they’re exercising don’t push themselves hard enough. They think they’re working out at a high level but in fact it would be safe and more effective to push harder. On the other hand, some people push themselves too hard, which is unnecessary and possibly even dangerous. The heart rate monitor is the single most important piece of exercise equipment that as a physician I recommend people get. You should talk to your doctor about what your optimal heart rate is when you exercise, based on not only your age but also your health and any conditions you may have.
Wendy Batts
Fitness
You should track your heart rate because it gives you information on exactly how hard your heart is working -- which lets you know if you're pushing yourself hard enough to get a good workout. As you see improvements in your heart rate, meaning it's lower for the same amount of effort, that's a sign of improvement in your cardiorespiratory fitness -- and a sign you can work out harder. Heart rate monitors can also help you know when you're pushing yourself too hard for your fitness level.
 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.