Nov 28, 2013 at 3:56 pm #1310337
Rick MBPL Member
delNov 28, 2013 at 4:41 pm #2048916
Steve MeierBPL Member
The Fitbits are pretty cool. Measures steps, distance and flights of steps and syncs wirelessly with their website. Doesn't measure heart rate. MapMyWalk is an awesome app that monitors distance and speed in 15 minute increments. Also MapMyRun and MapMyHike. I use the app constantly, although it will burn through your phone battery pretty quick as the GPS function of the phone is constantly on.Nov 28, 2013 at 6:02 pm #2048932
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
If you don't need some whizzy device to test by, and all you need is a standard test, then the Harvard Step Test has been around for a long time.
I went on one trip where each participant had to have a certain score on this test in order to sign up.
–B.G.–Nov 28, 2013 at 9:55 pm #2048966
Ito JakuchuBPL Member
I was curious too. Don't have a conclusion about a device, but came upon this article that might be of interest.
http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness/endurance-training/The-Single-Fitness-Stat-You-Need-to-Know.html?page=allNov 28, 2013 at 11:25 pm #2048978
Mike WBPL Member
@skopeoLocale: British Columbia
I don't know of an easy way of measuring your fitness level while hiking but if you have access to a concept2 rowing machine (most gyms have them) then you can row 2K at the beginning of your training session and then go back every few weeks and try again and watch for improvement. I use this calculator occasionally but I often incorporate indoor rowing in my training, so I don't know how it would be as a random test for other training methods. I suspect it would probably give you a pretty good baseline to monitor your progress, even if you are not used to rowing.Nov 29, 2013 at 12:03 am #2048979
I'm not aware of any reliable way to track heart rate for fitness other than a chest strap.
You can buy a chest strap/watch combination (Timex, low end Polar, etc.) for under $50.
To add distance to the equation, there are two options. The first is a footpod that straps to your shoes and measures foot steps. These are reliable enough for steady walking. I doubt that they would be accurate for rough terrain hiking or mountain hiking because the footsteps are so inconsistent.
For heart rate and distance, you really want something like a Garmin GPS watch. Combines GPS tracking with chest strap heart rate monitor, all displayed on the watch and uploadable to the computer for later analysis and historical purposes (displays hikes on a map, etc.). Without shopping for what's out there right now, the starting price point for this kind of setup is somewhere around $150.Nov 29, 2013 at 1:33 am #2048984
Stuart RBPL Member
Before you decide what features you want, you need to realise how you actually monitor cardiovacular fitness. There are many methods, but two common methods are as follows:
1) You run (or walk or cycle or row or…) a fixed route whilst maintaining a constant heart rate and measure the time it takes.
2) You run (or walk etc) a fixed route at a constant speed and measure your average (or final) heart rate.
You repeat the test at regular intervals and look (hopefully) for improvement in the measured parameter. You can have one or two routes – one short and faster, one long and slower.
Both methods require a heart rate monitor and all practical heart rate monitors have a chest strap.
Method 2 also requires instantaneous speed measurement which adds significant cost. Footpods (a small accellerometer attached to your shoe) give a more accurate readout of instantaneous speed than GPS systems which either jump about a lot or have a long averaging time.
I have used both methods and while technology can be exciting, it is also a distraction. It's better to learn to listen to what your body is telling you.Nov 29, 2013 at 1:51 am #2048985
Your stated goal was to measure your progress. You also said you have an 8-story stair climb. Other posters have mentioned heart monitors, which tends to imply a chest strap.
*) Measuring progress — climb the 8 stories keeping your heart rate at some fixed value you are capable of maintaining, such as 70% of Heart Rate Reserve, measuring how long that takes you. As you progress, that will take you less and less time — a measure that you are in fact progressing. An alternative, but more difficult, measure of progress would be that as you improve your conditioning the heart rate you can maintain steadily for 8 stories will increase.
*) Aerobic training — it is quite easy to find suggestions for how to use a heart monitor to increase your aerobic conditioning — a suitable mixture of aerobic recovery (base building) workouts, tempo workouts, and interval workouts. Look into that if you want a systematic program for increasing your aerobic conditioning. (Note: different "authorities" will have different opinions about some of that, so just go with whatever makes the most sense to you.)Nov 29, 2013 at 2:43 am #2048989
I wanted a very simple monitor for myself, with a nice simple display. I have been very happy with a Polar FT1 — currently on sale at Amazon for $34.89. A pretty basic heart monitor, but all you need to get started.
Some of the endurance athletes in these forums, such as those who try to set new JMT records, may make good use of a fancier heart monitor. But for just plain basic conditioning, such as this thread is about, the one I suggested has all the features you need.
Disclaimer — I have not looked to see whether it is less expensive elsewhere, or whether any better basic units have been introduced since I got my FT1. The one thing my FT1 lacks and that I wish it had is minimum heart rate — at the time I was looking that was only available on fancier (and more expensive) devices than I wanted.Nov 29, 2013 at 5:40 am #2049001
A heart rate monitor is Very useful for following a training plan, and is nice, but not necessary, to assess fitness and progress.
As you improve your fitness your resting prone heart rate will go down, your times will go down, and your recovery rate will improve.
You need a "challenge", a watch, and a journal.
My "challenge" is a 3 mile hill that climbs 1200'. I walk up as fast/efficiently as I can. I track my time to the top. I track how long it takes my heart rate to drop below 100 after I stop. I track my morning heart rate, prone, before I get out of bed (one eye open, watching the sweep hand).
In the winters when there is to much ice I use a indoor rower. In the summers I'm also on a bike.
A side benefit to this approach is repeatability day-by-day, as well as year-by-year. Resting heart rate and recovery time will tell you everything you need to know.
Edit: Also, on a 10 day hike, when you wake up, check your heart rate. If it's "typical" be happy, if it high, back off a bit. When you get to the top of a pass, check your recovery. It's interesting to watch your "bounce back" as a trip progresses. No "monitor" required.Nov 29, 2013 at 6:49 am #2049005
Stuart RBPL Member
The first method I outlined needs only a very simple heart rate monitor – it must display current heart rate in large clear digits and it must have a stopwatch function. Virtually all modern heart rate monitors meet these criterion. This method was first developed 20+ years ago when all heart rate monitors were this simple. Many modern heart rate monitors add a lot of additional complexity that is not actually useful.Nov 29, 2013 at 12:28 pm #2049079
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
"Both methods require a heart rate monitor and all practical heart rate monitors have a chest strap. "
In order to continuously monitor your heart rate, that is correct. Otherwise, a tiny pulse-oximeter will squeeze onto your finger and show you heart rate and blood oxygen saturation, but that is practical only for intermittent use. The oximeter function is handy if you are operating at high elevation and you want to keep an awareness of your condition long before you collapse.
–B.G.–Nov 29, 2013 at 1:14 pm #2049091
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> I'm not aware of any reliable way to track heart rate for fitness other than a chest strap.
Blimey – think a bit. If your heart is beating at 80/min, your arteries and veins will be pulsing at the same rate. That's how a nurse usually measures your pulse rate: at a vein in your wrist. KISS!
> For heart rate and distance, you really want something like a Garmin GPS watch.
> Combines GPS tracking with chest strap heart rate monitor, all displayed on the watch
> and uploadable to the computer for later analysis
What fantastic marketing spin! Come on: if you just want to get a rough check on your heart rate while running, who needs a GPS? Gross overkill. KISS!
Look on Google. There are hordes of cheap wrist-mounted pulse rate monitors around. Most of them include a watch so you can time your runs as well. And way under $50 too. You don't need NASA precision after all.
CheersNov 29, 2013 at 1:20 pm #2049098
To answer your question about what we use:
1) I started with a basic Hear Rate monitor. A Timex that is currently available from Amazon for $30:
It has a basic chest strap. Can be programmed with your own max heart rate so you can display your heart rate as either Beats Per Minute or Percentage of Max. It's easier to interpret % of Max while exercising, i.e. learn what 70% feels like, what 80% feels like, what 90% feels like, what 100% feels like (bad!).
It displays average heart rate and max heart rate and time for a workout.
And, it is has a recovery feature. Starting from a very high heart rate, press the recover button and it measures how much your heart rate falls in 60 seconds. This correlates very well with odds of men keeling over dead in the next five years.
If you prefer a Polar model, Look at the
Wearing one of these when you exercise will teach you how your heart rate responds in ways that would be hard to completely explain. You'll learn what jacks your heart rate, how it recovers. What your resting heart rate is, etc. And, you'll notice how those things change over time.
BTW, I'm pretty sure that climbing flights of stairs in a tall building would drive your heart rate through the roof. Right after your legs start burning, the heart rate will skyrocket. The burning indicates a shortage of oxygen to the muscles and the heart beats faster to try to supply more oxygen.
One of the tricks I've learned in mountain hiking is to slow down enough while climbing to keep my heart rate down.Nov 29, 2013 at 1:34 pm #2049103
>> Blimey – think a bit. If your heart is beating at 80/min, your arteries and veins will be pulsing at the same rate. That's how a nurse usually measures your pulse rate: at a vein in your wrist. KISS!
Jeez, why didn't I think of that? Next time I'm scrambling up a steep trail with my heart rate pegged, panting like a dog, I'll be sure to grasp my wrist and try to count the pulses for 60 seconds while holding my trekking poles and trying not to slip! :)
For the $30 a cheapo heart rate watch/strap costs, it's a lot more convenient to just glance at the watch and see the heart rate instantly. I have worn one for every workout, walk, jog, hike for the last 3.5 years.
Can you grab your wrist and count pulses? Sure. Is it a viable approach for real time monitoring during hard physical exercise? Not really.
The original question added the requirement of "distance" to heart rate. For that, a GPS/heart rate combo watch is the most convenient way to record those two data streams — although GPS may not be perfect in downtown Tokyo.Nov 29, 2013 at 3:52 pm #2049144
"Can you grab your wrist and count pulses? Sure. Is it a viable approach for real time monitoring during hard physical exercise? Not really."
If you are fit your heart rate will drop Real fast. Even with a 6 second count you will be way low.Nov 29, 2013 at 5:19 pm #2049167
It seems to me that the pro/anti HRM discussion is a lot like HYOH. Some find value in a HRM, while others prefer to avoid them.
It sounded as if the OP is looking for how best to do some systematic aerobic training. Does anyone have some good reading resources to suggest to him? Books? Internet references?Nov 29, 2013 at 5:52 pm #2049177
>> If you are fit your heart rate will drop Real fast. Even with a 6 second count you will be way low.
Yeah. A fit 50 year old guy would see his heart rate drop by 30 beats per minute in the first 60 seconds after max exertion.
So, counting heart beats at the wrist for 60 seconds is really not going to give an accurate read on max heart rate.
As for aerobic training for hiking….
from what I can tell, aerobic training is VERY activity specific. So, training for distance running doesn't translate that well to distance cycling or to distance swimming. For hiking in the White Mountains where I hike, I would say that climbing stairs would be pretty good training for the uphill bits. It's all about finding a a pace that you can maintain without jacking up the heart rate. But, there is a huge element of technique — efficiently walking on rough, rocky trails — especially on the downhill which is not that aerobically challenging. The limiting factor on the downhill is whatever pace that you can maintain without twisting an ankle!
City walking, or even smooth trail hiking, didn't translate at all to White Mountain hiking for me. It was actually a bit counterproductive because the quick steady cadence of that kind of walking didn't work at all on the rough trails. I had to learn to let the trail set my pace (which for me, is very, very slow!)Nov 29, 2013 at 6:46 pm #2049199
If you have an IPad (or smartphone) that you carry, you could just get Polar's Bluetooth heart rate monitor:
The data is recorded or displayed by a free Polar app. There is also a bluetooth foot pod that you tie to your shoe laces if you want to measure distance.
Here's the comparison of the Polar FT4 and the RS100. The RS100 has laps — for runners on a track or wanting to measure splits. However, it does NOT have a user replaceable battery.
For your purposes, that $30 Timex I linked to above will give you everything you need. I used mine for over a year. The only advantage of the Polar units over the Timex is that the Polar units use coded digital data transmission. If a bunch of people are wearing them on treadmills side by side in a gym, they'll each see their own data because each heart rate strap is linked to a specific watch. The Timex data between the heart rate strap is the old analog Polar standard, so any strap will link to any watch (or to the display on a treadmill). That's all irrelevant your purposes, as it was for mine. I was never walking side by side with somebody wearing the same watch!Nov 29, 2013 at 7:01 pm #2049209
The way I used the heart rate monitor for walking was on a very hilly 5K route near my house with a series of sustained quarter mile hills.
I tried to keep increasing my pace so that I saw heart rates at or above 90% of my max on the uphills and then dropping to 70% of my max or lower on the downhill and flat stuff. The heart rate monitor was good in that it kept me pushing my pace as I got more fit.
Eventually, I got fit enough that I could no longer get my heart rate up that high on the hills. At that point, I started throwing in little jog intervals. I sometimes do that based on heart rate. Literally jog until my heart rate hits 90% of my max, then walk til it falls to 70%, then jog back up to 90% and so on and so forth.
These were essentially a nice enjoyable way to do "interval training". Put on a good iPod playlist, and get some fresh air.
I was in for a rude surprise when I started hiking in the White Mountains. Initially, I tried to use the kind of pace I had gotten used to on my walks, and was immediately jacking my heart rate up above 90% of my max. That's fine for a 40 minute workout, but not sustainable over a long hike. So, for the last year, I've been using the heart rate monitor on my hikes to keep my heart rate DOWN. I need to stay below the point my legs burn and try to keep my heart rate below 80% of my max, so I've worked consciously to slow down and learn the "rest step" to learn to hike uphill with a lower heart rate. It definitely can be trained.
Physiologicaly, both high heart rate interval training and training to keep the heart rate low are valuable. They both have a place. You could easily do both on your 8 stories of stairs.
I can no longer jack my heart rate up to 70% of max walking normally on flat ground without going into intentional "speed walking".Nov 29, 2013 at 8:22 pm #2049230
"I've been using the heart rate monitor on my hikes to keep my heart rate DOWN."
Using a HRM for interval sessions is good for lots of things, but learning how to hit and maintain "lactic threshhold minus 10" is even more important. (Or whatever your "sustainable" number is).Nov 29, 2013 at 8:47 pm #2049235
Learning variations on the "rest step" going uphill has been really useful in keeping my heart rate down. Just a brief pause between steps is usually enough to stay below "lactic threshold". If my heart rate starts creeping up, I'll pause long enough for a count of three between steps. I may be the world's slowest hiker, but lately I've been coming home with heart rates below 80% of my max for virtually the entire time, maybe a few spikes to 83% or 84%. Downhill, I can't walk fast enough on the rocky terrain to get above 70%.
On the other end of the scale, I hit 98% of my max heart rate on Tuesday, doing half mile intervals on the Airdyne bike. That thing is diabolical.Nov 29, 2013 at 9:21 pm #2049244
>> Yes, here in Japan we follow the "conversation rule", i.e. keep your hiking pace no faster than it will allow you to easily hold a conversation with your partner without pausing for breath.
I've also heard it called the "talk test pace". Can you still talk? For me, that's somewhere around 70% of my max heart rate. At 80% of my max heart rate, I'm definitely breathing hard. I could still talk, I'm not panting, but carrying on a conversation would be tough.
I am, unfortunately, paying the price of smoking for 38 years before I quit, so staying below 80% heart rate climbing uphill is a pretty good progress for me. Most of the hikes I do have elevation gains of between 700 and 1000 feet per mile, so it definitely gets the heart rate up.
It's funny. Everybody passes me going uphill, but I pass a lot of them going downhill because my hips and knees are in good enough shape to handle the jarring.
Two things happen when you effectively train for this stuff: your aerobic capacity (lungs/heart) increase AND your muscles become more efficient burning oxygen and fuel in that specific activity. That's why running only partially transfers to cycling or to swimming or to hiking.Nov 30, 2013 at 8:37 am #2049303
The benefit of heart rate monitoring comes from seeing your heart rate while exercising and recovering. The only other interesting number is your resting heart rate — often taken first thing in the morning when you are still half asleep in bed. Generally speaking, a low resting heart rate correlates with aerobic fitness — although I'm the exception. I have a low resting heart rate (48 to 52 bpm), but my aerobic capacity is not that great.
I think you'll find the Polar heart rate monitor much, much more valuable than a step-counter. I'm not really sure the step counters provide anything very useful. Just cranking out "steps" during the day isn't doing much for fitness (unless you're coming off a stretch of being bed-ridden or something).
When you get your heart rate monitor, put the chest strap on (remember to moisten the two sensors this time of year) and go walk your 8 flights of stairs a couple of times.Dec 1, 2013 at 8:40 pm #2049840
Dena KelleyBPL Member
@eagleriverdeeLocale: Eagle River, Alaska
My choice has been the Fitbit Force, which admittedly doesn't meet the OP's criteria because it does duplicate some functions of your watch. It's a wrist mounted unit with a clock function, plus. That said, I've found it to be helpful not only in keeping track of my daily activity but in keeping track of my sleep, and my gains. It does not have a heart rate monitor. It does track steps, flights of stairs climbed (or equivalent, such as hills), active minutes, sleep (plus how many times you were restless or wakened), calories burned, and how much caloric intake and fluid intake you have if you log it. I've linked myself with other users so we can cheer each other or simply get motivated by seeing someone else doing better than us. It links wirelessly to my PC and also my iPhone which is handy. I plan to use the logs it generates to give to my doctor, who is always asking me about my exercise and my sleep. Now she can see it in graphs, if she'd like. :) Oddly, I have found myself sleeping better since I began logging it. Why, I have no idea. I'm not doing anything differently by habit, it's almost like just knowing I was sleeping inefficiently has made me try harder. Who knows.
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