As many of you know, Sierra and I recently purchased Polar Watch Heart Rate Monitors (the ft4 version). Since we go exercising together most of the time, we started to notice that our heart rates were different when we were doing the same exercise.
There are a lot of mixed answers on the web about what your heart rate really means about your health, but luckily we have a nurse practitioner in the family who was happy to answer all of our questions! Not only is Haley a nurse practitioner, she is also a mutli-marathoner, a health nut, and a great sister! Here she is:
We did a little FAQ with her, and here are our results:
LSS: So, what does it mean when people have different heart rates doing the same exercise?
H: Ok, take this scenario: Sierra and Savannah are doing the same exact workout. One has a HR of 110 and the other 135. So Savannah at 135, her heart is working much harder for the same intensity as Sierra because she is not as in shape as Sierra. Sierra’s heart is conditioned and doesn’t have to work so hard because it is used to working hard. A higher heart rate generally means that the heart is not as in shape compared to someone with a lower heart rate.
LSS: Does someone with a higher heart rate burn more calories while exercising than someone with a lower heart rate?
H: A specific heart rate number does not equal calories burned, although Savannah (higher heart rate) may be burning more because it is so harder for her and her body is not used to it. But Sierra who is more in shape, will be able to run 9 miles and Savannah maybe 5, so Sierra has burned more calories.
LSS: What is the significance of a resting heart rate (RHR)?
H: So generally, the slower your heart rate is at rest (resting heart rate) the stronger your heart is and the better aerobic shape you are in. It is simple: a heart that is in shape can pump more blood with each beat. Because of this, it can pump less times per minute so the RHR can be very low. The heart has to be able to pump a lot of blood out to the body when you are in shape and workout really hard, so at rest pumping blood is easy to the heart when you are in good shape. So, if you have a low resting heart rate you can work out pretty intensely and your heart rate wont go that high.
LSS: Thank you Haley!
Haley also mentioned that when exercising, you should be at 60%-80% of your max heart rate. She put a chart together to help us calculate our max heart rate and what our target heart rate should be.
Now I have a goal to get my resting heart rate in the 50’s, because right now it is in the 60’s.
If you have any questions for Haley, leave them in the comments below and we will make another FAQ like this one!
What is your max heart rate?
Do you have a heart rate monitor?