Archive for July, 2006

Resting Heart Rate: The Closer to Zero, the Better

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

Sounds creepy, doesn’t it? It’s true though, for virtually all endurance athletes: runners, cyclists, xc skiiers, swimmers et al.. The reasoning is pretty straight-forward. Endurance athletes strengthen their hearts and they expand their lungs and circulatory vessels by way of prolonged and regular exertion (exercise or training). In the process, they also “teach” their bodies to be efficient, to do “more with less” (oxygen). This occurs at the cellular level. Hence, as the body’s efficiency improves, the muscles require less and less oxygen to produce the same energy output. Oxygen is carried to the muscles in blood vessels which have grown a little bit in size, making the blood flow more efficiently. When the volume of oxygen enriched blood required by the efficient muscles decreases (a positive effect of exercise) the heart can do the same job with fewer beats. Since the heart and blood vessels are also enhanced in a trained athlete, the diminished oxygen requirement compounds the heart’s “slow-down”. For these reasons, athletes such as Lance Armstrong have resting heart rates in the 40’s even in the high 30s. (”Resting heart rate” usually means the groggy moments right after waking up in the morning)
Last night I wore my Polar heart rate monitor to bed and recorded my heartbeat for the night. This morning when I checked the results, the average heart rate during my sleep was 58, and for much of the time, my heart rate was in the 48-52 range. It spiked about 6-8 times to the 70s for whatever reason… One intersting thing I noticed is that in the hour or so after I hit the ’snooze’ button on the alarm clock, my heart rate dropped noticably lower. Why am I not surprised?
So hopefully I’ve explained why a lower heart rate is a desirable result of fitness training for any athlete. In addition to being an overall indication of fitness, it’s also a good way to judge whether an athlete is rested or over-trained. An elevated resting heart rate means the body is tired and/or in repair from the ‘controlled injury’ which is inflicted in training.

From Amerikan Turk -


Polar and the fight against childhood obesity

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

In recognition of its support and advocacy of quality physical education programs, Polar Electro, the worldwide leader in wireless heart rate monitors (HRMs), received the Ross Merrick National Recognition Award at the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) Hall of Fame Banquet. For years, Polar has been committed to helping break the cycle of childhood obesity through its proprietary technology tools developed for physical education in schools.

“The National Recognition Award is given each year to an organization that has done exceptional work in supporting physical activity, physical education, or sport as it relates to NASPE’s mission and has supported NASPE as an organization,” said NASPE President Thomas J. Templin. Past inductees of the National Recognition Award include the American Heart Association, President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and the United States Olympic Committee.

We’re extremely honored to be recognized by NASPE for this award,” said Jeff Padovan, President of Polar Americas. “As a company, we are committed to helping people improve their health and well-being. We’re particularly proud of the part that our technology has played in equipping teachers with the knowledge and tools to help kids establish a lifetime of fitness.”

How To Manage Your Weight with a Polar Heart Rate Monitor

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

One of the best weight management tools ever invented is the Polar heart rate monitor. Although invented for the Finnish ski team to be able to train with optimum effectiveness, over the years Polar has added many, many features that will help people in all walks of life. In today’s world, with obesity at epidemic proportions, I believe that the weight management (OwnCal) feature found on many of the Polar heart rate monitor models, will top your list of favorites. Every time that you exercise in any way, or even walk around the block or around the grocery store, you can see your calories burned. If you don’t know already, for every 3,500 calories burned and assuming that you don’t take in more calories than your body needs for your basal metabolic rate (just to exist) and the activities that you do during the day, you will lose one pound. So if you burn 500 calories a day above your basal metabolic rate (breathing, heart beating, etc.) and you only take in enough calories to fuel normal daily activities like going to work, taking care of your family, mowing the lawn, etc., at the end of one week, you will lose one pound.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it. Well, it is. Control your calories and exercise and you will maintain your weight. Let a Polar heart rate monitor tell you how many calories you are burning and take the guess work out of your weight management program. With a Polar F4, F6, F11, M32 or M61 heart rate monitor, you will exercise at the right heart rate for fat burning and calorie burning and know your calories burned - every time you exercise or are active in any way.

For more on the subject of heart rate and weight loss, go to my article, “How To Manage Your Weight with a Polar Heart Rate Monitor” at

Should kids wear Polar heart rate monitors?

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

The answer, unequivocally, is YES. Kids face more challenges today than we could have possibly imagined just twenty years ago. Working parents means latch key kids that come home to be safe and then do no physical activity. Riding a bike or walking to school or even going to a park has become unsafe because of sexual predators, so those means of being active have been all but taken away. Screens have replaced baseballs and basketballs and tennis balls. Kids are now glued to TV screens and computer screens and video game screens instead of playing sports. Add to that the fact that schools are trimming their budgets on the health and well-being of kids by cutting back or eliminating PE programs and after school programs.

What can you do? Make fitness fun for your kids. Help them to realize the lifelong benefits of being physically fit and the lifelong problems they will have from being overweight or worse, obese. Buy them a Polar F4 heart rate monitor and let them see how their hearts work and how when they are physically active they burn calories, feel better, are more alert and do better at school, to name just a few benefits. Instead of buying another video game to babysit your child, be active with them. Walk them to school, go to the park with them, play a sport with them. This is a win win situation in every way because your child will benefit physically and the bonds between you will strengthen as you do something so beneficial together.

The reason that I mentioned the Polar F4 is because it is sized for a small wrist, shows calories burned when you are active and looks just like a cool watch. It comes in black and light blue, so the colors are appropriate for boys and girls. You can learn more about the Polar F4 and its features here:

“Just Get A Polar” - from Danny Glasser

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

For Father’s Day this year I got a heart rate monitor, or to be precise, I was authorized to purchase myself a heart rate monitor. Not having any experience with HRMs nor having done much research, I went to REI to pick one out.

I’d already decided that I didn’t want to spend much more than $100 on an HRM and that I didn’t need fancy features for what would mostly be treadmill use. My initial first choice was the Highgear PulseWear Duo, mostly because I was nervous about using the chest strap and liked the idea of having a model that would sample the heart rate without it. However, I was quickly talked out of it by the salesperson, who said that he’d seen a lot of returns for that model, that the fingertip-based measurement wasn’t highly accurate, and that the main benefit of the HRM comes from sustained measurement (i.e. the chest strap is the whole point). He steered me toward Polar but in the end I opted for the Timex 30-Lap Ironman Triathlon, because the feature set seemed a little more useful and I figured the Timex would be more reliable.

Not so much. I found that the HRM frequently lost contact with the chest strap, sometimes right after a workout, but sometimes in the middle of the workout. Taking the strap off and readjusting it didn’t make a difference. It wasn’t due to lack of moisture, and I tightened the chest strap and replaced its battery to no avail. After a couple of weeks I called Timex Customer Service. I was very impressed that within a minute of calling I was talking to a real tech support person, but after hearing my description of the situation his recommendation was to send the unit to them for repair. At that point I decided to go back to REI and exchange it for a different model. I’d since received two independent recommendations to “just get a Polar”, so that’s what I did.

I’ve now had the Polar F6 for two days. I don’t want to jinx myself, but so far I’ve had absoutely no problems with the HRM receiving its signals from the chest strap (which wasn’t true of the Timex at that point). Furthermore, the Polar is simply a better HRM. The Timex is more of a watch-HRM hybrid, whereas the Polar is clearly designed with the primary intent of being an HRM (and is a mediocre watch). There are at least five little things in its design and implementation that make me like it better and even some of the frivolous features now seem useful.

It’s also helped me have the “duh!” moment that my exercise program isn’t meeting my goals, but that’s a story for another day.

Polar F55 Heart Rate Monitor - from Mr. Gadget

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

It would seem people in general are becoming more aware of the benefits of living a more active lifestyle. Not only do you lose weight due to an increased metabolism, but you obtain an elevated self-image, better quality sleep and greater levels of energy and therefore concentration during the day. However having this knowledge is one thing, but translating it into reality is another! So why not consider the new Polar F55 Male Heart Rate Monitor Watch to aid you in goal-focused, successful training, therefore reaping the rewards of increased fitness levels!

This watch will measure your heart rate constantly as you exercise… but that’s only the beginning. It will help guide you in strength training, helping you keep track of your sets, reps and what weight you are lifting for each exercise. It helps you set fitness goals by setting up your own specific programs. No more using your bad memory as an excuse. It even has an alarm to remind you if you forget your workout all together! The F55 also boasts the ability to measure your general fitness levels by approximately calculating your maximum oxygen uptake, or in laymen’s terms, the ability for you to get oxygen from your lungs to your body, which is what cardio-respiratory fitness is.