Heart Rate Monitors
Over the last few years, the interest in heart rate monitors has literally exploded. And not without due cause...
This is an essential tool for maximizing the benefits of any training program. Whether you're on a weight management program, a fitness enthusiast or a budding professional athlete, monitoring the intensity of your workouts is crucial to your success. For example... If you want to lose weight your goal should be to burn as many calories per exercise session as possible. And that means balancing exercise intensity with the duration of your workout. Adopting the right target heart rate zone is an effective way to achieve that outcome.
If you're an athlete or want to train for a competition, it's important you improve your fitness consistently without over training and risking injury... something that can only be measured objectively with a monitor. For the distance runners and cyclists amongst you, heart rate monitors are the most efficient tool to help you measure and align with your anaerobic threshold.
So what should you look for in a monitor? One thing's for sure, you are spoiled for choice... which is not always helpful. Here are a few points to consider when making your decision...
What Are Your Exercise Objectives
What seems like an overwhelming number of products on the market will be greatly reduced when you consider your outcome. Is it to lose weight? Is it to improve your fitness level as an amateur athlete? Are you, or do you, aspire to becoming a serious athlete. And are you a cyclist?
Unless you take your training very seriously don't spend your money on the most sophisticated, expensive monitor... you won't use 80% of the features you pay for. And while we're on the subject...
Features... Love Em or Hate Em?
The key to using them successfully is consistency. If the unit you buy is too complicated and takes too much effort to work out, chances are it will stay in the bedroom drawer. On the other hand...
A few added extras can help keep you motivated and in some cases actually have a useful purpose. For example some heart rate monitors have a built in fitness test facility. They will measure and predict your level of aerobic fitness on which you can build and monitor your training program.
If you're an athlete you probably know what you want and need. One thing you'll have to establish is whether you need a monitor that can link to your PC. Do you want to track and analyze your heart rate data and to what extent. Obviously you'll pay more for the privilege but it helps you to narrow down your options. Which leads us nicely onto...
Price... How Much Can You Justify Spending?
Heart rate monitors typically range anywhere from $20 to $400. For most of us, the ideal choice lies somewhere in the middle. Even serious athletes can buy a suitable heart rate monitor for $100 to $200. For anyone else, paying more than $150 might be a bit of a waste.
Think of heart rate monitors like running shoes. No one likes to buy the cheapest but they are perfectly adequate. It's only elite runners who really need the best. And most of us settle for the most expensive shoes we can afford.
The Number One Brand of Heart Rate Monitors?You may already know that there are quite a few manufacturers of heart rate monitors in the market. Brands include Reebok, Acumen, Cardiosport, Freestyle and Heart Talker to name a few. Undoubtedly the most popular and largest retailer is Polar.
According to a 1998 article in the Journal of Sports Sciences "Polar Heart Rate Monitors have for fifteen years been recognized as the most accurate tools for heart rate monitoring and registering in the field."
It's difficult to compare prices between brands because there are so many different models all with varying amounts of features. All in all Polar are no more or less expensive than other brands of heart rate monitors.
If you are thinking of purchasing one give Polar serious consideration. They are the choice of professional athletes, coaches and most commercial fitness equipment manufacturers which must count for something.