5 Benefits of Using a Heart Rate Monitor When You Exercise

Heart rate monitor benefits

Heart rate monitors are useful for a variety of reasons, and they’re a worthwhile investment if you’re serious about fitness. They provide feedback about your heart rate during exercise by using an optical sensor at the end of a band. The band wraps around your chest, just under your collarbone. You can also monitor your heart rate with a wristband, but chest monitors are more accurate.

A heart rate monitor makes you feel more “official,” but are there strong advantages to wearing one, and is it worth investing in one? Let’s look at how strapping a heart rate monitor on when you train can make your workouts safer and more productive.

A Heart Rate Monitor Helps Gauge Exercise Intensity

Are you exercising too hard or not hard enough? You might judge based on how much you’re sweating or how you feel, but that feedback isn’t as reliable as the information a heart rate monitor provides.

For example, if you’re doing high-intensity interval training, a heart rate monitor will tell you whether you’re exercising at a high enough intensity to meet your goals. You can also monitor your heart rate to ensure you’re not working too hard. Likewise, if you’re out for a jog, but wonder if you’re working hard enough to improve your cardiovascular fitness, a heart rate monitor can tell you whether you’re keeping your heart rate high enough to meet that goal.

So, a heart rate monitor can improve the quality of your workouts and ensure you’re meeting your fitness goals. It can tell you whether you’re above or below your target heart rate or whether you need to dial the intensity up or back. Plus, you can adjust on the spot due to the immediacy of the information you get from the tracker. You don’t have to stop and take your pulse rate to get feedback.

A Heart Rate Monitor Can Help You Stay Motivated

Wearing a heart rate monitor is like having an invisible personal trainer telling you how hard to work. This type of constant feedback can help you stay motivated. It’s gratifying to see you boosted your heart rate to a certain level, and that extra gratification can help you stay motivated to meet your fitness goals. Some studies show people who use fitness trackers that give feedback about their performance are more likely to be consistent with working out.

It Allows You to Check Your Recovery Heart Rate Too

A heart rate monitor is also useful for checking recovery heart rate, how quickly your heart rate comes down after an exercise session. When you exercise, your heart speeds up to deliver more oxygen to your muscles and slows down when you stop. Heart rate recovery is how fast your heart rate comes down in the first minute after you stop exercising.

Studies show recovery heart rate is a good measure of cardiovascular fitness and how quickly your nervous system reacts to stress. A fast heart rate recovery indicates your heart is more capable of handling the stress of exercise and is also linked with lower cardiovascular mortality. So, it’s a marker of heart health and fitness. But it’s important to be hydrated when you do this test, as dehydration can prolong heart rate recovery.

To measure recovery heart, take your heart rate as soon as you stop exercising, and again 1 minute later, and compare the two values. At a minimum, the second value should be 12 beats per minute lower than the first. The faster your heart rate comes down, the more physically fit you are, and the more capable your heart is of handling stress. If you don’t have a heart rate monitor, you’ll have to check your pulse rate each time, while a heart rate monitor makes it a breeze.

Using a Heart Rate Monitor is Beneficial if You Have Medical Conditions

If you have cardiovascular disease, hypertension, or other health problems, your health care provider might tell you it’s okay to exercise but to keep your heart rate below a certain value. A heart rate monitor gives you the instant feedback you need to adjust exercise intensity for health reasons.

Diabetics can benefit from a heart rate monitor too. An unexpected rise in heart rate can also be a sign in diabetics of a drop in blood sugar and inadequate hydration in healthy people. If you have medical problems, a heart rate monitor helps you exercise more safely.

Monitor for Overtraining

One way to know whether you’re pushing yourself too hard is to check a first-morning heart rate. If you notice a sudden rise in your heart rate in the morning before getting out of bed, it may be a sign your body isn’t fully recovering after your training, and you need more rest and recovery time.

Likewise, you can wear a heart rate monitor at home after getting up in the morning to determine whether it’s higher than it usually is. A jump in your baseline heart rate could indicate overtraining or excessive stress on your body. It could also mean dehydration. These are all factors you should be aware of.

The Bottom Line

Heart rate monitoring will help you better reach your fitness goals and do it safely. With a heart rate monitor, you don’t need to stop and check your pulse rate during your workouts. You’ll know whether you’re exercising hard enough to reach your goals and can use it to monitor whether you’re overtraining or not pushing hard enough. That’s information you need to know.


  • Facioli TP, Philbois SV, Gastaldi AC, Almeida DS, Maida KD, Rodrigues JAL, Sánchez-Delgado JC, Souza HCD. Study of heart rate recovery and cardiovascular autonomic modulation in healthy participants after submaximal exercise. Sci Rep. 2021 Feb 11;11(1):3620. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-83071-w. PMID: 33574441; PMCID: PMC7878503.
  • Cardiovasc Diagn Ther. 2019 Aug; 9(4): 379-385. doi: 10.21037/cdt.2019.06.05.
  • Wearable Heart Rate Trackers: Which Works Best? Len Kravitz, PhD
  • Sullivan AN, Lachman ME. Behavior Change with Fitness Technology in Sedentary Adults: A Review of the Evidence for Increasing Physical Activity. Front Public Health. 2017 Jan 11;4:289. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2016.00289. PMID: 28123997; PMCID: PMC5225122.

Related Articles By Cathe:

4 Benefits of Wearing a Heart Rate Monitor During Exercise

How to Measure Heart Rate Recovery After Exercise and Why It’s Important

How Accurate Is the Exercise Talk Test for Measuring Exercise Intensity?

Exercise Intensity: How Good Are You at Judging How Hard You’re Exercising?

How Do You Know if You’re Working Out Hard Enough?

What Does Your Resting Heart Rate Say About Your Level of Health and Fitness?

Fueling Exercise: 5 Factors That Determine Whether You Burn Fat or Carbohydrates

Hi, I'm Cathe

I want to help you get in the best shape of your life and stay healthy with my workout videos, DVDs and Free Weekly Newsletter. Here are several ways you can watch and work out to my exercise videos and purchase my fitness products:

Get Your Free Weekly Cathe Friedrich Newsletter

Get free weekly tips on Fitness, Health, Weight Loss and Nutrition delivered directly to your email inbox. Plus get Special Cathe Product Offers and learn about What’s New at Cathe Dot Com.

Enter your email address below to start receiving my free weekly updates. Don’t worry…I guarantee 100% privacy. Your information will not be shared and you can easily unsubscribe whenever you like. Our Privacy Policy