Flying as a Workout

I’m usually an active person and try to keep a steady workout routine. Unfortunately flying and studying has definitely stolen a good chunk of my workout time. When I do workout I usually monitor my heart rate to optimize performance. Since I just love data, I decided to wear a heart monitor during my first solo cross-country flight. The Garmin Virb Elite that I use to record the video of my flights can also capture GPS and heart monitor data. Combining all of this with the cockpit audio recording I get a detailed analysis of my stress levels during various parts of the flight.

It’s really cool to see how my body responds to activities such as navigation changes, radio transitions, turbulence, and definitely takeoffs and landings. I was surprised on how high my heart rate was. I’m healthy and pretty fit with a resting heart rate in the mid-50s. So we’re talking about the equivalent to a moderate walk on the elliptical. I haven’t done any validation on how accurate the data is and whether there’s any interference but I should be able to rely on the trends at least.

It turns out that I spent a good amount of the flight in the “fat-burning” zone. Next time I’ll have to wear my Polar strap to calculate how many calories I actually burn while sitting on my butt for 2 hours.

Here’s an example of the data displayed in Garmin Virb Editor. This is just before touch down at Fitchburg (KFIT).


Using the data overlay on the video I was able to identify the activities associated with the spikes in my heart rate.


I’d love to do this again after a few more solo flights to see if my stress levels drop with more experience and confidence. If I can remember, I’ll also try it during some maneuver practice and my first night flight. Too bad I didn’t think of this earlier, it would be great to see the reaction during my first stall.


3 thoughts on “Flying as a Workout

    • Hi Jennifer,
      The strap I use is one that I got with a Garmin Edge that I use for cycling. I’m not sure if the standard Virb supports sensors but the Virb Elite supports ANT+ devices. On the Elite theres a menu to enable various sensors.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s