There are many ways to monitor your heart rate during exercise. You can wear a chest strap that transmits your heart rate to a watch or a mobile device (via Bluetooth). You can wear an optical heart rate device on your wrist or arm. Or, you can grab the silver handles on exercise equipment like treadmills and elliptical machines.
There are 5 main reasons why I like to train with a heart rate monitor:
1. It provides an objective measure of my exertion effort
2. It provides a measurable set of data that correlates with my cardiovascular fitness level over time
3. I can plan my workouts to maximize recovery
4. I can compete against others who are also tracking their heart rate effort
5. I can exercise safer
Focusing on safety has become increasingly important to me and although I don't consider myself to be ultra-competitive, I like to train and exercise to see improvements and progress. If I'm stuck in a plateau all the time, that can get to be discouraging. When I can go for a 3 mile run at a steady pace and run with less effort (and lower heart rate), then I know that I'm making progress.
Have you ever trained with a heart rate monitor? Consider the health and fitness benefits and talk to your health care provider before starting an exercise program.