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Are heart rate monitors a good tool to have?



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MALAMI518
SparkPoints: (48,659)
Fitness Minutes: (42,509)
Posts: 1,277
6/28/13 8:38 A

Ok, now I think I really want one. I don't need one (at least yet), but I do think it would be helpful and motivating. I will most likely add it as a goal gift when I rework my goals.

Thanks for the information!



AMANDANCES
Posts: 1,975
6/27/13 11:31 P

MALAMI -- I wear an underwire sports bra too, and it does not interfere with the chest strap. It actually fits a little below where your underwire is.

If you are looking for a more accurate calorie burn count, then a HRM is for you. But if you don't need that, or don't need to manage or track your heart rate for fitness reasons, then no, it's probably not for you.



MALAMI518
SparkPoints: (48,659)
Fitness Minutes: (42,509)
Posts: 1,277
6/27/13 2:51 P

Hmmmm...I was considering a HRM, but my sports bras have underwire in them, so maybe it's not such a good investment for me. I am a little larger "up top" and usually need to double up on the sports bras: one with underwire and a second that is more of a compression one.

I agree with M@L that I don't really need a heart rate monitor and that the money would probably be better invested elsewhere. I do think it would be fun to have one, though, because I love numbers. I guess I need to do a bit more research.



EENERSLLIM
SparkPoints: (23,806)
Fitness Minutes: (21,563)
Posts: 308
6/27/13 2:03 P

Yes! Best gift I received for Christmas. I have the Polar RS100.



SIMONEKP
Posts: 2,481
6/27/13 1:57 P

absolutely



LILYLOUCAT
SparkPoints: (279)
Fitness Minutes: (239)
Posts: 5
6/27/13 1:47 P

I have also had a few problems in the past with reliability but think I've not got it sorted. The Polar FT7 has proven to be the best for me so far, but something I learned the hard way was to be careful about what bra I wear! If it has any under-wire it often got caught in between the chest strap and the actual stick on monitor thing (can't remember the technical term!) prising them apart, AND I also believe the wire interferes with the signal. So I always wear a proper sports bra now as it has a thick flat strap that holds everything (literally) in place.

I'm guessing that's not so interesting for the guys......



ROXIGIRL
SparkPoints: (40,152)
Fitness Minutes: (63,046)
Posts: 1,892
6/27/13 1:44 A

Yes, i use my every day. Must admit i have to change it every so often as heart rate sensor stops working properly after 3-4 months. Changing batteries does not help. I just got myself 3 year insurance. I have Polar FT7.



MAYBER
SparkPoints: (77,837)
Fitness Minutes: (0)
Posts: 9,004
6/26/13 9:28 P

Have never used one but after all the positive comments it sounds like a good idea
One day at a time



CAPRISONYA
SparkPoints: (20,348)
Fitness Minutes: (39,820)
Posts: 81
6/1/13 1:07 P

I used a Timex version with a chest strap (about $30-$40), for about a year, until the connection on the chest strap seems to have died. And to be honest, while I liked it while I had it, I don't really miss it. It was never all that accurate, IMHO. While it got heart rate (most of the time), I think the calorie count was very overestimated... it asked for age and weight, but mine was not gender-specific, so it calculated things (I think) for an average-height man of my weight, not a short woman. not accurate at all.

They are good to have if you like seeing the numbers or if you need them to measure exertion, but they won't make a huge difference to your workouts by themselves.



DLH5260
SparkPoints: (991)
Fitness Minutes: (63)
Posts: 1
6/1/13 11:20 A

Good info. I will probably be getting one within the next month. Thanks everyone for sharing.



LILYLOUCAT
SparkPoints: (279)
Fitness Minutes: (239)
Posts: 5
6/1/13 3:21 A

Hi Amanda, I didn't mean use the HRM to measure your resting calories, you can gauge those once you know your resting metabolic rate.

At the end of the day, I think all the calories in, calories out stuff is very approximate. How people metabolise food must vary from person to person depending on their physique and all the various chemical processes that go on in the body in breaking down the food.

However, a HRM is very motivational and useful if you use it to push yourself when exercising to do more than say, last time. Or to literally monitor your heart rate if you've been advised to stay in a certain zone when exercising.



HILLSLUG98239
SparkPoints: (29,368)
Fitness Minutes: (48,910)
Posts: 880
5/31/13 11:56 A

I can no longer recall where I read it. I have to admit, it made me a little sad - I wasn't burning up calories as fast as I'd thought!

I've learned to take any calories-burned calculation with a grain of salt. It's a rough guideline, but not much else.



AMANDANCES
Posts: 1,975
5/31/13 10:00 A

Lilylou -- I don't think you can use the HRM to accurate gauge calories burned when NOT working with an elevated heart rate. In other words, the calorie counts will be way off if you just sit on the couch and track the calories burned. HRMs are not designed to calculate calorie burned when not engaged in activity -- or at least that's what the folks at Polar say.

HILLSLUG98239 -- I did not know that about entering your healthy weight and not current weight. That's extremely interesting, and I wonder how many people know that? Where did you find that information? Thank you!



TURQUOISEBIKE
SparkPoints: (1,015)
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Posts: 55
5/31/13 9:39 A

I would advise anyone who enjoys seeing numbers at the gym but doesn't enjoy the rest of the gym experience to get a HRM and take those numbers outside.

I don't think they're fantastic for counting calories, but they can help with gauging effort and make it easier to avoid two common mistakes: making every exercise session a tough one and never making any exercise session a tough one. Most people push themselves too hard too much of the time or don't push themselves hard enough often enough - a HRM can act as a coach. Listening to your body is better than listening to a gadget, but sometimes the body is in denial and the gadget is honest.

Mine wasn't super-expensive, but it does have a cable for uploading data to a computer afterwards and I can press a button to divide my workout into laps (in my case not usually laps on a running track, but something like hill repeats on my bike). It's interesting to see how much my average heart rate varies when I climb the same hill in easier and harder gears, sometimes using my aerobic system more and sometimes challenging my muscles more. It's also motivating to see how much longer I can stay exercising at a fairly high heart rate now than when I got the HRM.



LILYLOUCAT
SparkPoints: (279)
Fitness Minutes: (239)
Posts: 5
5/31/13 3:16 A

I have used a HRM for the last couple of years and find it very motivational. However, if you are taking the values seriously and logging them against your food intake, etc, you have to remember to deduct the calories you would have burnt off anyway by lying on the couch to find the net calories burned due to exercise. In my experience it's not nearly as much as you think :(



HILLSLUG98239
SparkPoints: (29,368)
Fitness Minutes: (48,910)
Posts: 880
5/30/13 7:20 P

My HRM started getting wacky a while back. I think the watch needs a new battery, so I quit using it. But I'd used one for years before then, and it can be a very handy tool.

I've used both Polars and Timex HRMs. I really like the Timex I had that I finally gave up on because the plastic part of the chest strap kept breaking. Super glue can only do so much...

One tip if you're going to use an HRM to count calories burned: enter your healthy weight, not your current weight. The calories-burned calculation assumes you have an appropriate lean muscle mass. If you're overweight and you use your actual weight, the HRM will record a higher calories burned number than you actually burned.

For example, I am almost 200 pounds. 150 pounds would be a healthy weight for me. That's a 30% difference. If I tell my HRM I weigh 150 pounds, it calculates calories burned based upon lean muscle mass of 100 pounds, which is about what I have now and what I would have at a healthy weight & body fat percentage. If I tell the HRM I weigh 200 pounds, it will assume I have a lean muscle mass of about 140 pounds or so.

Mapmyfitness and my HRM think I weigh 150 pounds. Both consistently record similar calories burned for activities. FitBit and DietPower, which know how much I really weigh, consistently record a much higher calorie expenditure for the same activity.



77QUEENBEE
Posts: 4
5/30/13 7:16 P

I've had my Polar for 10 years and the battery in the watch just died for the 2nd time. Pretty good if you ask me! I think it was around $50-60. Given how long I've had it, I feel like it was pretty economical. My husband has a Timex that was less expensive and he likes that as well. He's only had it for about 2 years.



HILLSLUG98239
SparkPoints: (29,368)
Fitness Minutes: (48,910)
Posts: 880
5/30/13 7:10 P

KK - I've had a few Timex HRMs that were inexpensive and durable.



KKLENNERT809
Posts: 7,366
5/30/13 6:42 P

I don't own one. But I would like to. There are so many different kinds that it gets confusing and complicated. Anyone recommend a simple, easy to work, and yet economical monitor?



TCANNO
SparkPoints: (95,387)
Fitness Minutes: (63,820)
Posts: 17,103
5/30/13 6:10 P

Yes but there are limitations.
Mine has a habit of going very high but most of the time it works ok, I would not be without it





ELIZABETH5268
SparkPoints: (43,815)
Fitness Minutes: (14,855)
Posts: 1,169
5/30/13 3:41 P

I LOVE my heart rate monitor. I bought it a few weeks ago when I started a TurboFire Challenge locally but I'd been pondering getting on for years. I almost wish I had sooner. It's amazing to push stop and see all the calories I burned. I feel like when I'm in my rate zone while doing workouts I know I'm doing things right vs just doing them and hoping I am. It was only $65 on Amazon POlar ft4 I believe..? I recommend!



SIMONEKP
Posts: 2,481
5/30/13 10:52 A

I echo the emphatic yeses below. AMANDARAQS you rock, I am in the market for a new one. I am currently using a pyle sport HRM but have noticed a few significant drawbacks, it doesn't work well or at all if you're in a basement gym and sometimes for no good reason it will drop the HR count down to a resting HR for a few minutes and then start to build again which doesn't make it accurate when that happens. That's happened a few times for reasons I can't explain and I know for sure that I didn't go from 157 b/p/m to 72 b/p/m when I am still in motion.



77QUEENBEE
Posts: 4
5/30/13 7:55 A

I love having a heart rate monitor! My battery went out a few weeks ago, and I have yet to replace it. I miss having it! It helps me train in the right zone, and it's helped me become better at gauging my own perceived effort (e.g., I used to think that X feeling meant I was working hard, but now I realize I was selling myself short and I could try harder; other days I feel beat and it's reflected on the monitor). And though far from perfect, I think HRs do provide a better estimate of calories burned.

I have an older Polar model. It is one of the more basic models. If I were to buy another I'd get one that also tracks distance as I am a runner so I'd like to have that for outdoor running. I also like how in the gym, I can just wear the chest strap and it talks to the machine so I don't always need to wear the watch.

I think you're going to love it! emoticon

Edited by: 77QUEENBEE at: 5/30/2013 (07:55)


MWOOD8
SparkPoints: (2,978)
Fitness Minutes: (2,308)
Posts: 14
5/30/13 6:27 A

I am actually new to HRMs as well. I've had mine for about two weeks and I love it. I was weary of purchasing an expensive one because I didn't know if I'd use it often or not, so I found an inexpensive one on amazon for $22 and bought it. I LOVE IT! It is very accurate-I work in a hospital, and I wore mine and put a pulse-ox probe on one night, and it was right on target with the machine. Mine is comfortable to wear, the only downside to mine is that the watch is really big..,and I have pretty big wrists for a woman. It doesn't bother me, though, because I only wear it when I'm running or bicycling. Mine is a Pyle Sports brand. It does everything I need it to-current, average, and hi/lo heart rate, cals burned and has an alarm and stopwatch. Pretty easy to set-up and use. When it comes time to purchase a new one, I will probably buy a more expensive one, but for now mine works well!



ADZY86
Posts: 1,142
5/30/13 5:09 A

I swear by mine too. I have the Polar Ft7 and I love it. I found that Spark and the machines at the gym under or overestimate my calories burned by quite a bit. It really helps keep me motivated to see my calories burned and check how much effort I'm really putting in. I'd fully recommend it



MOTIVATED@LAST
Posts: 14,023
5/29/13 9:25 P

Amanda,

Those are indeed valid criticisms of alternative measures.

Of course, HRM's have their issues too. High blood pressure and some medications can lead to a much higher heart rate than the exercise itself warrants, leading to the HRM overreporting the calories burned. Beta blockers can lead to a much lower heart rate.

Oxygen consumed is the best measure of calories burned, but this is hard to do outside a lab setting. Heart rate is only a proxy for oxygen consumption, and is not always reliable.

And my fundamental point is that measuring more accurately doesn't actually help you burn more calories. To do that, you need to MOVE more.

M@L



SKINMINA
SparkPoints: (11,089)
Fitness Minutes: (2,053)
Posts: 157
5/29/13 6:42 P

I just got home and did my normal cardio, this time with my PT4. I found that SP was overestimating the calories I burned by 60 calories or so...

I think the HR monitor is a good thing to have.



AMANDANCES
Posts: 1,975
5/29/13 1:31 P

Rate of Perceived Exertion can be an unreliable measure of activity -- and can vary depending upon the fitness level of the participant, and the activity being measured.

http://faculty.css.edu/tboone2/asep/JEPj
eff.html
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/80521
19
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12430
990
etc.

Stopping to manually take your pulse rate (even if the activity is continued, through stepping or marching) can, depending upon your level of fitness, considerably affect the measured heart rate. In very fit individuals, heart rate can drop within seconds of stopping the exertion part of the exercise. This is why the chest-strap style of monitoring is recommended.

But your mileage will vary. Most people I've met on Spark use HRMs to measure calorie burn or to see if they're working in their target heart-rate zone. For these uses, the HRM is an effective tool to have. It really depends upon your fitness goal.



SKINMINA
SparkPoints: (11,089)
Fitness Minutes: (2,053)
Posts: 157
5/29/13 12:47 P

I ordered a Polar FT4 last week. It should be in the mail when I get home. I can't wait to use it!



MOTIVATED@LAST
Posts: 14,023
5/29/13 12:29 P

The way I see it, an HRM is just a measuring device.

To burn calories, you actually have to MOVE more (either further, or faster). Merely strapping on an HRM doesn't burn a single extra calorie. And no discussion of 'measuring more accurately' is actually going to change that.

Personally, I would rather spend my money on something that actually helps me exercise, whether it is a new pair of running shoes, some weights, etc.

But certainly, for some people, 'seeing the numbers' does motivate them to work out more, and thus it might well be helpful for them.

You can always check your pulse manually, for free. Rate of Perceived Exertion is another measure of exercise intensity.

M@L



AMANDANCES
Posts: 1,975
5/29/13 12:09 P

I SWEAR by my heart-rate monitor. It's what helped me lose a bunch of weight about 5-6 years ago.

You will want to get the kind that has a strap that goes around your chest. The other kinds are not accurate. The strap is comfortable, and you really will forget that you're wearing it.

You have to enter in your height and weight (and as you lose weight, you need to adjust your settings.) The monitor will give you a MUCH more accurate estimation of burned calories. And it really is motivating to look down at your watch and see that you're at 285 calories burned, so why not push yourself a little more and burn a nice round 300! lol.

Like Caradawn said, you can also monitor your effort, which is great when you're doing interval training, or you want to push yourself into the "vigorous" category of activity.

Lots of people like the Garmin. I had the original Polar F4 which they have now replaced with the Ft4.

You can pay as much or as little as you want, based on the features you want. The Ft4 is the lowest end, but does everything I personally need. I really don't need all the bells and whistles of the more expensive ones. Think about the features you NEED: do you NEED it to synch wirelessly with your fitness app? Or are you okay manually entering the numbers? Do you NEED it to remind you to exercise? Or calculate the altitude or incline? Most of the companies have a "compare models" feature on their website.

One more thing -- there is a company called Heartratemonitorsusa that has the best prices (although somewhat slow shipping.) I got my $99 Polar Ft4 there for $65. Also, if you google for heartratemonitorsusa coupon code, you can almost always find a coupon for between 5 and 15 percent off.



CARADAWN
Posts: 1,897
5/29/13 10:40 A

I use a heart rate monitor but not to accurately guage how many calories I burn but to document my effort. I only use it while running and it helps me know if I am running at 60%, 70%, 80%, etc. of my max heart rate. If my heart rate is too high I slow down, if my heart rate is too low I speed up. It's that simple! It has helped me keep pace during many half marathons so I don't exert myself too much in the beginning and have enough energy to RUN through the finish line (I look at my heart rate instead of my pace while running). It works great for me but it may not be for everyone.

I have a Garmin 405 and I LOVE it. Expensive but worth it if you are running or biking outside a lot and want to be able to program, track, and compare your workouts.



ERICADURR
Posts: 241
5/29/13 10:12 A

I personally love my heart rate monitor, although I don't think I've ever seen one that measures blood pressure. I own a Garmin model, and it straps around my chest. I'm able to more accurately gauge calories burnt during my workout, and it pushes me to work harder when I fall below a certain zone.



SPARK_COACH_JEN
Posts: 55,468
5/29/13 7:57 A

Here's an article you might find helpful:

www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_artic
les.asp?id=731


Coach Jen



HMILLY2020
Posts: 587
5/29/13 7:30 A

I have a Polar F4 that I really like. I think it was $80 or so.

I think its a great tool to keep me accountable and to see if I'm truely burning what I think I am. This is my second one that I've owned and I really do like it a lot.



HAPPYGIRL511
Posts: 1,541
5/29/13 7:00 A

I hear that it is helpful to have a heart rate monitor to calculate calories burned and monitor your heart rate, pulse and blood pressure with exercise and all activities you engage in. Is this just a selling point, or is it beneficial. If you use one, what type do you have and what do you like most about it?

I have looked online and they range widely in price from as low as $16.00 to $250 depending on where you look, brand etc.

Open to suggestions and just curious. Thanks in advance



 
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