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The Bottom Line: Trying natural alternatives like increasing physical activity, altering your diet, being sure to get enough sleep while avoiding unnecessary prescriptions or over the counter drugs (including many of the energy drinks) should be the first choice.

Dear Tanya,

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I see some people at my gym wearing heart rate monitors. I thought they were doing it for safety purposes but I heard that it helps them to know if they are working hard enough while exercising. Can you explain?

Signed, Heart rate monitor confused

Dear heart rate monitor confused,

Heart Rate (HR) is the number of times the heart beats per minute. This is usually taken by pressing on the front, left side of the neck, or the inner wrist, and counting the number of beats. Count the number of beats in 10 seconds and multiply by 6 to get your heart rate. The heart rate monitor just makes it simpler by doing it for you.

When doing an aerobic workout your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) needs to be determined. Your MHR is defined as 220 minus your age. A 20-Year old’s MHR would be 200, while a 50-Year old’s would be 170. While performing aerobic exercise your HR should stay within 50-80% of your MHR. This is your Training Zone. So a 20-year old should keep their HR between 100 and 160.

Keeping the HR above this zone will not provide additional aerobic benefit. In fact, it may provide no aerobic benefit at all. For best results (aerobic and fat burning), keep your HR in the aerobic zone for at least 12 minutes. The longer and more frequently you do this the more improvement you’ll see.

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Tanya Rosen is the co-owner of Shape Fitness in Flatbush. She is a certified nutritionist, Personal Trainer, and aerobics instructor, and is the creator of the SHAPE FITNESS KOSHER WORKOUTS DVD, available in Judaica stores or online at www.shapefitnessgym.com.