Know your heart - fitness edition...
January 20, 2014 10:29 AM   Subscribe

What resources exist to better understand the correlation of heart rate variations with exercise intensity?

I have begun exercising lately with a heart rate monitor. I have noticed that I can exercise at a reasonable pace (say level 4) without significantly increasing my heart rate. If I push really hard for a short period (say level 14) I can move my heart rate up to a predicted 60% or 80% level. Once at this level it is very easy to keep my heart rate close to this rate even if I reduce my effort (say back to level 4). Of course if I stop or move to little effort (level 1) it will come back down but given it takes some effort to achieve 60% it's surprising to me that it's easy to keep it at this point - I'm assuming this is related to the release of adrenaline or something similar but I'd like to be understand what's really going on...

First is there anything I can learn from this pattern? Second are their any resources which I can draw upon to better understand how to tailor my exercise regime to modify this pattern? Or if modification of the pattern is even something useful in the context of improving one's general fitness...
posted by NoDef to Health & Fitness (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I think the term you're looking for here is "heart rate recovery" - the time it takes your heart rate to recover to resting after exercise. It can be used as an indicator of health (if the time to recover is low) or of over-training (if the time to recover is high).

As a practical matter, you're also discovering why heart rate monitoring alone is insufficient to determine exercise intensity. At least for cyclists, you can get power meters to switch to power-based intensity metrics (which are heart-rate invariant), but I'm not aware of any other power meters for other sports. Conceivably you could work out the math on a treadmill to get an equivalent power metric.
posted by saeculorum at 10:38 AM on January 20, 2014

The term could be Heart Rate Variability. This is a beat-to-beat measurement that looks at variability as an indicator of fatigue from stress and exercise. For athletes who exercise consistently it can be useful to monitor recovery when planning a daily exercise regimen.
posted by dgran at 12:57 PM on January 20, 2014

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