Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Choosing a Heart Rate Monitor

You may have heard about heart rate monitors. Maybe you have one or you've considered buying one. There are a lot of brands and models to choose from. Since the cost is a little bit of an investment (it's not like buying a $10 pedometer, heart rate monitors start around $40 and can go up to several hundred) you want to get the right one for you.

Buying a heart rate monitor can be a little confusing. There are many brands and many different models with a huge price range. The way I choose a heart rate monitor is first by brand. I always choose Polar. Why? Because I know they make a good product. I've owned two different models of Polar heart rate monitor and I've found them to be reliable and easy to use. Also, I've noticed that a lot of gym equipment is Polar compatible. This means that your heart rate monitor will transmit your heart rate directly to the treadmill or whatever cardio machine you're on. This allows the machine, if you choose, to vary your workout (speed, incline, etc.) to give you the best workout.

The next thing I look for when choosing a heart rate monitor is price and then features. Now this is where it can get really confusing but, it doesn't have to. I look at the available models and pick one to look at that is a price I feel is in my budget. Then I look at the list of features. If there are a lot of features that seem like overkill then I move to a cheaper model (a little or a lot cheaper depends on how long and excessive the features list was on the first one I looked at) and see what features the less expensive model offers. So, you go through and narrow it down that way. As you read the features of the models you select you will start to get an idea of what's available and what you might like.

I've been working out for many years but, the list of features I look for is still pretty short. The basic feature, of course, is that the heart rate monitor tells you your heart rate in real time. You may find it helpful to have a clock feature so that it doubles as a watch during your workouts. It's nice to be able to program it with your target heart rate range. You can find the formula for this online and some of the heart rate monitors will do it for you. Once the heart rate monitor has your target range there is usually an option for it to sound an alarm when you are outside your range. This keeps you from working at too low or too high an intensity level. Personally, I really appreciate a heart rate monitor that calculates the calories I've burned during my workout and allows me to enter data about myself (ex. weight, age, gender) that helps it to more accurately calculate the calorie count. There are tons more features available but, those are the ones, after years of workouts, that I have found to be the most useful.

The only other note I'd like to make about choosing a heart rate monitor is about the style. There are a few styles. One includes two parts, a chest strap (transmitter) and a writst watch type piece (receiver). The another style is just the wrist watch part which has the transmitter and receiver built into it. The third style that I learned about just recently, which they use on The Biggest Loser, is worn around the upper arm. I'm not really familiar with the version worn on the upper arm. So, I'll just comment on the other two styles. As much as I would rather not have to wear the chest strap, this style is more accurate than the wrist only version. I think more accuracy is worth a little discomfort. So, I do recommend going with one that uses a chest strap.

Using a heart rate montitor to regulate and fine tune your cardio workouts is a valuable tool that helps eliminate the guess work and helps you get the most out of your cardio sessions. While choosing the right one for you may seem overwhelming, it's well worth the effort.

Brought to you by Best Ever Fitness

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