If you're starting a new exercise routine or attempting to improve your fitness level, a Heart Rate monitor is highly recommended. My boyfriend gave me one as a gift this past Christmas and I've been putting it to work. I've found it super helpful in assessing my workouts.
I'm primarily using it for its coaching abilities. My Polar F60 Heart Rate Monitor provides me a complete record of my workouts. Personally, I find the information helpful. I track performance, calorie-burn, and heart rate over time. It also helps me know when I am taking it a bit too far. Many times, especially when doing cardio workouts, you may overwork yourself. My heart rate monitor beeps at me and tells me when I am above a safe range. Working out too hard can do more damage than good and can lead to exhaustion, overtraining and injury.
Also, how many people actually stop in the middle of their workouts to check their pulse? Very few. I know I never did but it's a valuable indicator of your overall health. Looking down at my monitor is a lot easier than counting beats.
Choosing a Heart Rate Monitor
There are a variety of HR monitors to choose from. Some are inexpensive and others are very pricey. Although a gift, I actually picked out my HR Monitor. The one I opened on Christmas day was too advanced for my needs. I've made a list of some of the considerations I took when shopping around to help anyone considering the purchase:
- What are the functions of the strap and watch? Some monitors say they do a bunch of things but actually don't if you don't have a bunch of other contraptions and accessories attached to you. I wanted to make sure that the basic functions of counting calories and checking my heart rate were built into the monitor. Believe me, even some pricey ones don't do that.
- The accuracy of the HR monitor based on reviews. I did a lot of online shopping and checked out other websites to ensure that people were happy with it. Some HR monitors tell you that you burned like 3,000 calories in a workout when in "real life" that isn't the case.
- How does it store data? Is the data stored on the watch? Can you see it? Do you need yet another accessory to obtain the data? Mine has a 100-workout database stored on the watch and this funky accessory that my bf purchased for me called the Polar FlowLink that also imports the data to my computer and allows me to edit and track on a calendar. I remember going online and finding a HR Monitor that you had to send to some factory to get your data. Umm, and how is that useful?
- Easy set up. Those little suckers can get confusing. I wanted to make sure that I didn't need a Bachelors in Computer Programming to start tracking my heart rate.
- Easy to read display. I wanted the numbers to be big and bold. Stopping to check it out defeats the purpose.
- Has GPS capabilities. Some HR monitors count how far you have run based on a footpod and others can track how far your ran based on a GPS sensor. I originally thought I wanted a HR monitor with GPS but when I realized that most of my workouts would be indoors (including running due to the horrible winter we had), it became a pointless necessity. I can purchase the footpod when i become a marathon runner. ;-)
- Batteries. What happens when the batteries died? Can you switch them out yourself? or Do you have to take it to the manufacturer?