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Heart Rate Monitor Reviews

 

Heart rate monitors are used both by serious athletes and those interested in exercise effectiveness and fitness safety.

The value of a heart rate monitor can not be over-estimated in its ability to make your exercise workout programs more effective, monitor your progress and maintain your safety.

The key benefits of heart rate monitors are:

  1. Indicate the intensity of your workout
  2. Ensure you are staying within a safe heart rate range
  3. Overcome the unreliability of manually taking your pulse during exercise
  4. Can be linked to programs incorporated in exercise equipment - for instance, most Elliptical Trainers include several heart rate programs which continually receive heart rate data from the heart rate monitor and automatically adjust the resistance or incline of the machine to maintain your heart in the target zone for that part of the program.
  5. Assist with the monitoring of fitness progress - several heart rate monitors allow you to save previous data for comparison
  6. Assist with the development of custom fitness training programs - those models that allow you to download data to your computer, and use special fitness analysis programs to maximise the effectiveness of your training. This type is comm

There are many days where I don't feel like I am just crusing along, and my heart rate is above the safe upper limit. On other days, it can be a real struggle just to get to 60% MHR. It usually has something to do with how much wine I consumed the night before - even two glasses makes a huge difference to my exercise workout the next morning. Using a heart-rate monitor is the ONLY effective way to manage a a workout program.

 

Types of Heart Rate Monitors

Basic Models - give you a basic read out of heart rate, calories used, timers etc. 

Standard Models - have more data features and many will allow you to store workout session heart rate data. The number of sessions stored varies between models. These models will generally interface with exercise machines. Some will interface with a PC to allow the download of data.

Advanced Models - have all the bells and whistle features. But be warned, you can have too many features which only ends up complicating the setting and use of the monitor. Advanced models provide a wide range of training analysis features used by sports coaches to finely tune training programs.

Amongst the above types of heart rate monitors you will find the two following commonly sought features:

  1. Waterproof Models: most models are water resistant. Check for specific heart rate monitors designed for swimming, which are water proof.
  2. Single Sealed Models: such as Polar heart rate monitors. This makes the unit completely seam free, and resistant to water BUT you will need to return the monitor to an authorized service center to have the batteries replaced.

Important Heart-Rate Monitor Features

According to experts, there are only a few absolutes for a good heart-rate monitor:

  • A snug chest strap. If the strap doesn't fit properly, the reading won't be accurate. This is often a problem for women in particular because most straps are designed to fit a man's chest. The good news: you can buy a sports bra with a hem designed to hold the transmitter, like Polar's Heart Bra (*est. $35) , or consider Acumen's Eon Basix heart-rate monitor, which is designed for a woman's torso.
  • A big, bold display. Remember, you'll be reading your display at arm's length while you're running, as sweat drips into your pounding eyeballs. If you're a cyclist, the monitor will be mounted on your handlebars.
  • Big buttons. You need buttons that are easy to find and push with your fingers while you're on the move.

Some users may appreciate extra features such as the ability to interface with a computer, but for many, such features are overkill.

 

More On Heart Rate Monitors

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