Thread: heart monitor
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Old 04-27-21, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I don't have any particular goals in cycling though I would like to lower my blood pressure. It has become consistently elevated (yellow zone) but not high (red zone). My doctor has led me to be concerned about this, and my health history has been excellent in all other standard measures. Last year I rode about 1,500 miles which was less than previous years, because I have fewer places to go in Pandemic. In fact, nearly all of my miles now are recreational whereas before Pandemic, most of them were commuting.

I'm 60 years old and 170 pounds, about my ideal weight. My diet is good, and my resting pulse is about 57.

Now I have a chest strap monitor and don't know how to use it. I can record my heart rate as I ride but don't know how to interpret the numbers. What are some questions I should ask myself to set some goals for myself? I know I don't do enough intervals, as I don't enjoy them. I do, however, enjoy climbing hills, and there are plenty of hills where I am, so I effectively have some built-in intervals, but I suspect I'd do well to attack hills even harder than I do.

Here is yesterday's ride with heart rate data.

Thanks, folks.
There is a lot of reference material online to read. But here's what I've found.

First, I need to know my max heart rate. The old 220-Age formula is only an estimate. You can't do much to change your actual max heart rate, but you can change how capable you are of reaching it, and how long you can stay near it. For me, my max should be 220-53=167. This is not accurate for me. Last year at my peak fitness (late summer) I could reach 182, give or take a little depending on how rested I was. And I could hold over 170 for quite some time. But everyone's different, and for some, that formula is pretty accurate.

The best way for me to find my max heart rate turns out to be on a stair climber, not on a bike. On a bike there's too much else going on. On a stair climber I can really focus on just pushing myself up to the max. You need to know your max and min to determine your heart rate zones.

If your max is 180, and your minimum is 57, then you calculate your heart rate reserve by subtracting 57 from 180: 180-57=123.

For aerobic exercise you want to target 70% to 85% calculated this way: .7 x HRR + Min, to .85 x HRR + Min.

So if your max is 180, min is 57, and HRR is 123, you can find your aerobic range by calculating .7x123+57=143 at the low end of the aerobic range, to 161 at the high end of the aerobic range.

If you're targeting fat loss, you want to spend more time toward the lower end of the range, because that's where you're producing power output that best keeps pace with your body's ability to burn fat reserves. If you push higher, your body must produce more power, and to do that it burns a higher ratio of carb reserves, less of fat reserves. But you, yourself, aren't looking to lose fat. You're just looking to get healthier.

For you, you would probably want to spend more of your time in the middle or upper middle of this aerobic zone. And then you'll want to spend some time in the anaerobic zone above the aerobic zone. So start spending bursts of a few minutes above 161 beats per minute. Over time you may spend longer bursts in the 161+ range before falling back into the aerobic range.

An elite athlete (which everyone here aspires to be, right?) will be more concerned with finer-precision zones. But most of us can make a lot of headway by heading out on a ride that brings us up to the aerobic zone, and then gives us opportunities to reach a few minutes at a time into the anaerobic zone to push ourselves before falling back to the aerobic zone. Staying in that aerobic or higher zone for 20-30 minutes (minimum) per day is an excellent way to improve fitness. And as we get more fit, and more comfortable in the saddle, we start pushing that to longer periods of time.

I'm not elite by any means. In fact, I'm just a slow but healthy rider. My typical rides are about 45-75 minutes on weekdays, and 120-240 minutes on weekends. During these rides I strive to stay above the lower range of the aerobic threshold. And because I live in hilly terrain, I'm assured of spending plenty of time above the high end of the aerobic zone too. This seems to work for me.

Finally, be prepared to be disappointed with respect to blood pressure. No matter how much I ride, I'm still in the moderate range. Eventually the doctor's going to tell me I'm in the high range, and I'll just have to start taking meds for it -- that is, if it's in my genes to be that way. My ex-wife was worse; no matter how much aerobic activity she participated in, she had to take blood pressure medication to stay in the healthy range.

Last edited by daoswald; 04-28-21 at 08:13 AM.
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