Heart Rate Monitors
You can achieve the most benefit from
your exercise regimen by using an exercise heart rate monitor.
A good heart monitor can give you peace of
mind and clear baseline information to determine your current fitness
level (and retest yourself at any time to see the progress that you have
made). If weight management is your goal, some heart monitors features to
allow you to actually see the calories that you burn as you burn them and
on some models, see the percentage of fat calories that you burned. A
heart rate monitor is an essential tool to optimize your heart health and
fitness level and to give you a competitive edge.
If you are training to
walk for speed, a heart rate monitor allows you to workout at the
appropriate exertion level for your chosen duration. Too much exertion for
too long and you are not training the right muscles and are building up
too much lactic acid. Too little and you are not increasing your fitness.
You should also be spacing your harder workouts, with an easy day in
between. The heart monitor can ensure that you are not going too fast on
that easy day.
For about the price of a
pair of shoes, you get what amounts to a personal trainer, telling you
when to speed up or slow down and nagging you to get onto the trail or
track. A good heart monitor can really help when walking or running
Heart Monitor: What is
Today's heart rate
monitor generally comes with a wireless transmitter you strap to your
chest with a comfortable elastic band or wear in a special bra. The
transmitter has the same accuracy as an electrocardiograph. While taking
your own pulse serves the same purpose, the continuous monitoring you get
with a heart rate monitor is much more convenient. The signal is
transmitted to a monitor display
on your wrist or bike handle. You can use
the same heart rate monitor monitor in a variety of activities - outdoors
walking, running, skating, biking, and indoors on your treadmill,
stairstepper, exercycle, ski-exerciser, rower, etc. Most models are even
waterproof enough for swimming.
Heart Monitor Features
many features in the monitors, which determine the price differences. A
basic unit that shows only the heart rate can be found anywhere for
$79.99. From there, the price goes up with the features - up to $200 for
the fuller featured monitors and above that for those that download to
your computer. For an extensive selection of Heart Rate Monitors, visit Bodytrends.com
Since you wear it like a watch, it is nice to have it
be a watch, too, so you don't have to wear another watch when on your
It is good to head out on your workout knowing what target zone you are
planning to achieve, but it is even more convenient to program it into
the monitor and have it beep when you are above or below the target
zone. Some models allow multiple zones to be programmed.
You may want to be timing your workout, so the stopwatch feature allows
you that flexibility without additional equipment.
More fun for those who are concentrating on
going fast and training for races.
Some models allow you to set one or more alarms, with
a beep to alert you when you have completed an exercise segment. This
comes in handy for several kinds of workouts.
Review data such as your average heart rate during
the period, save multiple periods for comparison.
View your heart rate two minutes after ending
your workout, to see how fast it recovers - this is an indication of
fitness level and you can use it to track improvement.
Get instant satisfaction with this calculation of how much you have
Great if you exercise at night.
the fancier models will hook up to a computer
and download information.
Considerations Before Purchasing a Heart Rate Monitor
ECG-Accurate Heart Rate
Monitors with Chest Strap
The most accurate heart rate monitors use a
chest strap which fits snugly around your chest just below the breast. The
transmitter detects the electrical activity of your heart just like an ECG.
It relays this to a display, usually worn like a wristwatch, although some
use earphones instead. It is important for the strap to maintain contact
or you get wild readings.
Heart Rate Monitor Features
Basic models display only your heart rate,
and perhaps elapsed exercise time. With increasing price you get a variety
of useful features such as: Heart rate zone alarm: Set the zone and it
alerts you when you are high or low. Timers: Countdown timer, stopwatch,
interval timers, clock, alarm. Calories burned. Time in zone, splits.
Fitness test. Computer link. Pre-programmed workouts
Display and Ease of Use
Besides features, shop for how easy it is
to use. Can you read the numbers easily? Does it have a backlight for use
in low light? Are there so many features that you will have to carry the
manual to figure out how to use it each time? Are the buttons well labeled
and easy to find and push?
Once you have chosen which features you
want, it comes down to price. Sales are common and you can find a wide
variation in the price of the same model. Shop around and you may be
pleased to find your dream monitor for much less than suggested retail
To take your morning pulse
The best time to take your morning pulse
using a heart rate monitor is just a few minutes after you have awakened, while
you are still lying in bed. The idea is to keep track of your morning
pulse rate so that you can spot changes quickly. When your morning pulse
is elevated, you may be coming down with something or you may simply be
overtraining. In either case, an elevated morning pulse tells you that you
need a rest day.
To run at your aerobic training pulse (ATP)
This is the slowest pulse you can run at while still getting aerobic and
health benefits from your workout. Your aerobic training pulse is
important because it's the pace at which you should do approximately 80
percent of your weekly running, including easy days and long runs. First,
you must determine your maximum heart rate, which is most simply expressed
as 220 minus your age. If you're 40, your maximum heart rate is 180 (220 -
40 = 180).