Are you interested in buying a heart rate monitor, but you aren’t quite sure where to start?
For such a small device, there sure are plenty of options out there to choose from, which can make a purchase quite difficult. Before you go to a store and get overwhelmed by all the options, read on for some important tips to buying the right monitor for you.
Why a Heart Rate Monitor or HRM?
Most people buy a heart rate monitor to help them reach their fitness goals. This is a smart plan, because in all actuality, it isn’t how many minutes per day that you exercise that really pays off, it is how intense your workouts are, or how well you get your heart pumping, that really gets you to your goals.
You don’t want your heart rate to be too high, or too low, so this is where a monitor comes in. It can help you by reading your heart rate so you know when you need to push yourself harder, or when you may need to calm down in your workout. Most monitors help you to stay in your target zone, and many of them can be plugged into a computer following a workout to allow you to study your results and your progress.
No matter what kind of exercise you enjoy, you may be able to benefit from a heart rate monitor. Whether you walk, jog, run, hike, row, or bike a heart rate monitor can help you maximize your workout.
If you enjoy walking or a light jog, a heart rate monitor can assist you by letting you have a goal heart rate, so you can get more out of your workout.
If you like to run, you will get the best bang for your buck if you are running with your heart rate in your target area. If you get a really high tech heart rate monitor, it can even help runners by telling them when they’re dehydrated and need to fuel up!!
Are you a hiker or mountain climber? You need to be in the best possible condition to take part in these activities, so monitoring your heart rate is also important.
If you like to ride your bike, a monitor can allow you to keep track of your endurance and how stressful different types of rides can be for your heart.
If you are in rehabilitation for an injury or a medical condition, the fact that you get instant feedback from your heart rate monitor is of huge value to you and your doctor. This kind of information can help you to get back to feeling good again quickly and safely.
And if you are trying to lose weight, you’re in luck! Most of the heart rate monitors available will read how many calories you’re losing as you go. What can be better motivation to keep going or to work out hard than seeing the results live!
So if you’ve decided to purchase a heart rate monitor, it is time to decide which kind is right for you. Heart rate monitors operate using signals from your heart and showing them to you live on the device itself. There are 2 main types of heart rate monitors to choose from.
Chest Strap Heart Rate Monitors
First, there are chest strap heart rate monitors. These are the most purchased monitors, and they feature an easy to use strap that wraps around your chest which connects to a receiver which usually is worn like a watch. Depending on how much money you want to spend, there are a number of types of strap monitors available to you. The very basic models show you how long you’ve been working out along with your heart rate data.
The more high tech devices actually protect from interference with other peoples heart rate monitors, and can be synced with a device that hooks to your tennis shoes that measure how fast you are running, the distance you are going, and a gps signal can help you map your locations and understand the height and elevation of your workout.
Chest strap heart rate monitors are great because they allow you to measure your workout without stopping to see it. These are very accurate. They are also quite expensive, but keep in mind that you get what you pay for. If you purchase a cheaper model, you may have to contend with interference with other monitors. You should also be careful of how comfy they feel while wearing them, as some people feel like they interfere with their workout and can’t get over the feeling that something is attached to them. If you are one of these types of people, you may want to move on to the next type of device.
Finger Heart Rate Monitors
The other type of heart rate monitors are attached to your body with simply the watch part of the device, and you touch your finger to them to measure your heart rate. These types of monitors are usually much cheaper than the chest straps, and are easy to use. You also don’t have to worry with the discomfort of the chest strap.
Unfortunately, you have to stop during your workout to measure your heart rate. The finger sensors measure your heart rate only, and can’t tell you your distance or speed like a chest strap monitor can do, so they are limited in their functionality.
Heart Rate Zones
Once you’ve decided which device to purchase, you need to fully understand the data to make sure you are getting the most out of each workout. You can basically use the monitor to tell you if you are working out hard enough or if you need to work harder. Once you understand the measurements, you’ll know if you are under-performing or overdoing it to help you build an appropriate workout.
You have a target to meet, which is a range based on your maximum rate. To calculate your maximum heart rate, start with the number 220, and subtract your age. If you’re 30 years old, your maximum heart rate would be 190. While this is a very simple calculation, it is for the most part correct for most individuals.
You can also consult the recommendations of the American Heart Association, who offer general guidelines for good health. People who are on medications or have specific medical conditions may have varied heart rates, but for the most part, these numbers are accurate for normal, healthy individuals.
So why is it so important to know your maximum heart rate? Because it will give you the information you need to achieve your desired results.
If you work out to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate, you are building up your endurance levels. This is helpful if you are trying to lose weight, or if you want to build up your abilities over time. This also helps to build muscle and to burn fat.
If you are able to work out between seventy and eighty percent of your maximum heart rate, you will increase your ability to be in good heart health. It also helps to build muscle and helps to keep you within your average weight category. Fat is burning at a good level when you work out to this point.
If you are able to work out between eighty and ninety percent of your maximum, you’re probably seeing heavy breathing and tired muscles. Doing so helps you to increase your lung strength.
If you are able to work out between ninety to one hundred percent of your maximum heart rate, you are probably a professional athlete or trainer. If you are not a professional, this can be difficult to manage. You can only work out at this level for very brief periods of time or else your muscles will starve because they can’t sustain enough oxygen.
Tips to Help You Purchase the Best Monitor For You
Depending on the heart rate monitor you purchase, you will be able to see several target zones, usually between 3-9 zones. With this variety of heart rate zones, you can design your workout around your goals, or program your monitor to vary based on how hard you want to work out.
If you want to get the best possible monitor with all the bells and whistles, you’ll want to find one that has a sport feature, which usually offers a timer and a clock.
Other features are the stopwatch feature, and a lap timer. You can get monitors that offer a recovery mode, which can inform you of how long it takes you to get back to your resting heart rate. This helps to show you how physically fit you are.
Some monitors offer a calorie counter, which is especially important for people trying to lose weight. As previously mentioned, high tech monitors are able to monitor the distance traveled or your pace. GPS models can allow you to track where you are and understand your route, which is helpful if you’re planning a hike or run in an area you are unsure of.
Some models have a computer interface system, which allows you to upload your workout information so you can track your results over time.
Many monitors keep your device from experiencing interference with other people’s monitors because they are coded to only transmit your data. If you are a biker, make sure to pick a model that can be mounted on your bike’s handlebars.
One important option is the battery replacement. Buy a model that you can easily replace the batteries so that you don’t have to purchase a brand new device when the battery dies.
So if you’re in the market for a heart rate monitor that best suits your style, use these tips to make the right decision. It is also helpful to review sites online and get feedback from other users, and it might help to go to a sporting goods store to see them and check out the various features before you make a purchase.
Before you start a hardcore workout regimen, talk to your doctor to make sure you’re in adequate health to do so. If you work out safely and put targets and goals in place, you can meet your health and fitness goals by using a heart rate monitor.