Selecting a Heart Rate Monitor


When looking for a heart rate monitor, you want to look at price, functions, and features that work for you. I recommend a HRM that has a calorie counter, measures heart rate, and has a timer/clock. For more advance purposes, I suggest a multi-sport watch that has a calorie counter, measures heart rate, and has a timer/clock, cadence setter, a speed/pace or distance tracker and GPS monitor.

Quick Tips:

Heart rate monitors help you stay within your heart rate target zone and gauge the effectiveness of your workouts. HRM’s equipped with chest straps provide the most accurate data. Speed and distance monitors with HRM’s are also available.

Heart Rate Monitors 101:

If you are a hiker, cyclist, runner, tri-athlete, climber, firefighter, skier, a heart rate monitor is a very useful tool. It can help you to stay within your target heart rate zone and to gauge the effectiveness of your workout. It’s a wrist-mounted computer or information station that puts data at your grasp that can guide you toward specific fitness goals.

- HRM’s use personal data such as age, gender, weight, rest heart rate to calculate aerobic heart rate target zones and to help you maintain your optimum training level during exercise.

- An HRM offers immediate feedback so you can evaluate your performance, allowing you to adjust you training program to maximize the benefits.

- Many HRM’s offer features such as a stopwatch, countdown timer, calendar and clock. Most HRM’s are water resistant.

Chest Straps-Vs.-Strapless (Finger):

Chest Strap Models:

Most HRM’s require a wireless chest strap to monitor the heart. Straps are included with HRM’s. Chest straps gauge your heart’s impulses continuosly, providing the most accurate reading to an HRM.

Strapless (Finger Sensor) Models:

These HRM’s offer touch pads or sensors on the monitors to measure heart rate. Exercisers must pause during activity in order to make take a measurement. Finger sensor data is estimated to be 95% accurate.

Speed & Distance Monitors:

As the name implies, these monitors measure how far and how fast you’ve trained during your workout. Some include a heart rate monitor. Many models interface with a computer, allowing you to go online, get directions, log your experience and keep track of your performance.

Other Features/Considerations:

Recovery heart rate mode: This enables you to determine the rate at which your heart returns to a normal or previous level (homostatis). This is a desirable feature if you workouts include sprints or interval training.

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Time in target zone: This allows you to monitor the effectiveness of your workouts.

Calorie Counter: An HRM can be useful to people involved in a weight-loss program. Selected models include a calorie counter to track calories burned during workouts.

PC Interface: On some HRM’s. athletes can store training information. These models can interface with a computer to download stats for analysis and storage (record keeping). This may require a separate computer connection accessory. A wireless interface is available of some models.

Fitness Trainer: This feature provides alerts for intensity level that fall above or below target heart rate zones.

Mounting: Most HRM’s can be worn on your wrist or attached to a bike. Some models may require a separate bike-mount accessory.

Tracking Method: Various technologies are used to calculate your speed and the distance you have traveled. Several units use satellite tracking GPS technology; another option involves the use of an accelerometer, which may be in the monitor or in the foot pod that attaches to your shoe.

*Courtesy of REI

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