A heart rate monitor is a device for monitoring your heart rate. It is primarily used by fitness enthusiasts because reaching different target heart rate zones have certain effects on your health. To a certain degree, you can think of a heart rate monitor as your pacer, telling you when to slow down or speed up. Exercising within a specific heart rate zone will aid you in improving your performance and optimizing every move that you make. For instance, if you have a fat-burning goal in mind, then you will have to stay within one zone for between 40 and 80 minutes, whereas an aerobic session will mean another 10 to 40 minutes in a different zone.
Learn the basics of a heart rate monitor
Target zones are ranges of percentages based on maximum heart rates. There are different kinds of measurements developed in calculating for maximum heart rates but the simplest equation is: max HR = 220 your age. To guide those using heart rate monitors, the American Heart Association has come up with a chart for the target zones. Still, it is better if you undergo a stress test first under the supervision of your doctor to determine what your actual maximum heart rate is.
Which heart rate monitor is best?
There are different brands and models of heart rate monitors in the market today, all of which work by measuring the electrical signals that the heart sends out, displaying the reading on the unit. Typically though, there are two heart rate monitor types: chest strap models and finger sensor models.
Of the two, chest strap models are more common. Chest strap models are made up of two component: first there’s the chest strap that wraps around the chest and transmits wirelessly to measure continuous data for heart rate through a wristwatch-type of receiver. There are different models for chest strap heart rate monitors, ranging from basic to advanced depending on functions.
Basic models of chest strap heart rate monitors are designed to simply time your workout and relay continuous heart rate data in the process. Advanced models of chest strap heart rate monitors, on the other hand, have a more elaborate way of transmitting signals since most have a coded feature to keep other heart rate monitors from interfering with the data you are transmitting. Depending on the exact model, accessories may be paired with heart rate monitors, like a pedometer or a GPS device, that tell you how far you’ve worked out and where you are exactly. Those with GPS functions may also record where you’ve been to help you keep track of your progress.
Chest strap models are great because they let heart rate data be continuously transmitted without having to stop mid-exercise just to take a measurement or view the information. Measurements are also more accurate, and there are more options as to what will be measured, like distance with the help of GPS devices. The downside is that all these functions will come with a heftier price tag than the finger sensor models. There’s also the issue with comfort since the heart rate monitor is strapped around you.
As for finger sensor models, you’re looking at simply a heart rate monitor that comes in a style reminiscent of a wristwatch. To activate finger sensor heart rate monitor models, all you have to do is to press the touch-pad sensor. Once activated, the heart rate monitor gets to work transmitting data, which is estimated to be at least 95% accurate.
Those who like the finger sensor models rave about the simplicity of using this heart rate monitor and comfort it affords since there are no straps to worry about. And because it is a relatively simpler model, finger sensors are also more affordably priced than chest strap models. The only downside is that you have to stop during exercise so you can take a measurement. If you can live with the maximum 5-second interruption, then finger sensor models should work just fine with you.
The best thing you can do before buying a heart rate monitor is do plenty of research before making your decision.