Serious About Exercise? Get a Heart Monitor

Harvard Heart Letter, Volume 24, December 2013

Serious about exercise?  Get a heart monitor.

Maximize your workout by keeping your heart rate “in the zone.”  Most people with heart disease need encouragement to get just the mimimum amount of exercise necessary for health.  That’s why most articles on heart disease and exercise focus on the small waays to add just a little more exercise to one’s lifestyle.  This is not one of those articles.

A lot of people with heart disease are otherwise fit and have been cleared by their doctors for vigorous exercise.  If you’re on of these people, you’ve probably already made exercise part of your daily routine.  Even so, you may not be getting the maximum benefit from your effort, says Dr. Aaron L. Baggish, assistant professor of medicine a Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.  That also holds true for a number of people who don’t have heart disease.

“The bottom line is that anyone who exercises routinely, with an emphasis on how hard they work out, will benefit from using a heart rate monitor,” says Dr. Baggish, who runs a program for athletes with heart problems.  “Yes, this includes some young folks, but also a lot of 40-, 50-, 60-, and 70- something people who want to balance being athletic and having heart disease.”

Maximize exercise benefit

Eighty percent of the people with heart disease in Dr. Baggish’s exercise program use heart monitors.  The emphasis is on real-time feedback that lets you reach

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