Heart rate monitor

Recently I went on a Baltic cruise for a fortnight with my family. The ship boasted a fully-equipped gym so I decided to have a go.

I cycle almost daily, for commuting and for exercise so I have no concerns about my general fitness. But I thought I may as well have a go at something other than cycling while I had the opportunity.

I spent quite a lot of time on the treadmills. I used to run a lot at sixth form but hardly at all since I left in 2004. I found it came back to me quite naturally, and was delighted to find that these treadmills have built-in heart rate monitors. I could run fairly hard for 20+ minutes and keep my heart rate within 160-165 bpm. I don’t know if this is good/normal/etc but I don’t care. I just like statistics! 😛

When I got home, I was curious about how my heart performs when cycling, so I went to Tesco and bought their cheapest heart rate monitor. It doesn’t have that many features, but I don’t want any features except to know my current heart rate. Annoyingly, it beeps once per heartbeat and you can’t turn this off, but never mind.

Yesterday I cycled the 6 miles to work on my racing bike with the heart monitor rigged up. The first 3-4 miles are on the Bristol-Bath cycle path which is almost completely flat, and I cruised at a speed of around 22mph with a pulse of around 160bpm. So far so good.

Next my route takes me through Old Market and eventually Broadmead. Here it’s a bit hillier, and I have to deal with traffic and traffic lights, which means I keep accelerating and braking. My heart got up to 175bpm with the extra exertion.

Finally I have to get up St Michael’s Hill, and ascending this climb, working hard out of the saddle, I peaked at 197bpm.

According to Diet and and Fitness Resources, the maximum heart rate (MHR) for my age and gender should be 197bpm and recommended heart rates for different types of exercise are in the following table.

Type of exercise % of MHR Heart rate
Recovery/Weight Loss 60 – 70% 118 – 138
Aerobic 70 – 80% 138 – 158
Anaerobic 80 – 90% 158 – 177
Maximum 90 – 100% 177 – 197

Of course these type of statistics vary hugely from person to person, but I guess it means I do a lot of exercise broadly in the anaerobic range.

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