Ask the Expert—Dr. Izzy Lira


Q: What are the benefits of wearing a heart rate monitor when training?

A: In the world of gym bling and fitness technology, wearing a heart rate monitor is the most accurate and convenient way to assess your exercise intensity, or where the body is being pushed just hard enough without the risk of injury or overuse. Some monitors even offer other benefits, such as calories burned and training guidelines. Most consist of two elements, a chest strap and a receiver worn on the wrist. The chest strap is adjustable to accommodate a variety of sizes. You strap it around the chest, and it picks up your heartbeat and transmits it to the receiver, which usually doubles as a watch.
Polar heart rate monitorThe receiver then displays your heart rate while you workout.

Wearing a heart rate monitor will help ensure that you’re not over exerting and risking injury. You can estimate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. A 40-year-old, for example, has an estimated maximum heart rate of 180 beats per minute. If your exercise intensity level is too low, you’re not achieving the maximum benefits. Using a heart rate
monitor shows you exactly (physiologically) where you stand at every moment of your workout so you can keep the intensity up with minimal breaks. By doing so, you’ll reap benefits such as increased metabolism, that will last hours after your workout.

freeimage-1355148Heart rate monitor usage depends on the person and differs based on factors including genetics, fitness level, nutrition and surrounding environment. If you are a post-cardiac patient or diabetic, it’s important to use a good heart rate monitor during workouts as a constant reminder of fluctuations in heart rate. It’s equally important not to get too attached to the numbers, as you should also monitor your Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) along with heart rate. It’s important for those in these health catagories to use both methods, given the higher risk of cardiac events and the effects of medication on heart rate. And most importantly, always use common sense. Even if your heart rate monitor is telling you that your heart rate is too low, you shouldn’t increase intensity if you feel your exertion is high on the RPE scale.

Wearing a heart rate monitor keeps you in tune with your body and exertion level, making it easy to reach your workout goals. And as always, see your chiropractor or doctor for more tips!

A Doctor of Chiropractic, Izzy Lira is also a strength and conditioning specialist.

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Photo of Dr. Lira by Richard Salas. Heart rate monitor from Polar; heartbeat graphic from


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