Cardio equipment – like a treadmill, elliptical or stationary bike – comes with a lot of bells and whistles these days. You can choose your terrain and how long your course will last. You can base your settings on how much weight you’re trying to lose and how challenging you’d like your particular workout to be. You can even add warm-up and cool-down times.

People often base their workouts on this data that’s provided through the screens and consoles attached to their machine. They try to push themselves to go the extra mile or burn off a certain amount of calories. But there’s one piece of useful information that often gets overlooked, and that’s the heart rate monitor.

Most of the workout equipment at our Greenville gym shows you numbers portraying your approximate heart rate. It’s important that you understand what these numbers mean, and track your progress as you exercise. You might be feeling fine in terms of energy, endurance and muscle strength. But that isn’t a completely accurate summary of how well your body is coping with the strains of your fitness regimen. You could be getting close to your body’s breaking point and not even feel like anything’s wrong until you’re suddenly dangerously short of breath or extremely dizzy and tired. But this can be avoided if you track your heartbeat.

A normal heart rate is 60 to 100 beats per minute at rest, according to the Mayo Clinic. An athletic adult, or someone who’s in better shape with a healthier heart, will have a lower resting heart rate – and this can even be as low as 40 beats per minute. But when you’re working out, you want to see that your heart rate is 60% to 80% of your maximum heart rate. You can quickly estimate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. But remember, your workout heart speed should not exceed about 2/3 of this number!

However, a doctor or fitness trainer can help you figure out a more exact number that takes into account your overall health, including factors such as gender, strength, diet and other lifestyle factors. Feel free to ask any expert at the Pivotal Fitness Greenville athletic club for more advice on tracking and targeting your ideal heart rate.