Fitness and Health Exercise Equipment
                                 An informational guide to selecting high-quality fitness and health exercise equipment.

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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 it?

    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

    There are 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

  • Watch: 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 workout.

  • Target Zone: 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.

  • Stopwatch: You may want to be timing your workout, so the stopwatch feature allows you that flexibility without additional equipment.

  • Lap timer/splits: More fun for those who are concentrating on going fast and training for races.

  • Alarm: 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.

  • Memory: Review data such as your average heart rate during the period, save multiple periods for comparison.

  • Recovery rate: 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.

  • Calories Burned: Get instant satisfaction with this calculation of how much you have burned.

  • Backlight: Great if you exercise at night.

  • Computer link: 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 price.

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).



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