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What are the benefits of a heart rate monitor?



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OBIESMOM2
SparkPoints: (61,388)
Fitness Minutes: (40,069)
Posts: 4,472
1/23/12 1:46 P

I use a Timex & I've been very happy with it. Easy to set-up and it has all the features I wanted when I started out (HR, stopwatch, calorie count) and features that I've used as I get more involved with my workout routines (setting target heart zones, lap counter).

I do prefer the chest strap models so I have a constant read instead of the fingertip models where you touch the watch to get your HR periodically.

I keep eying the more advanced models with GPS to track my miles, but I'm not ready to spend that kind of money when what I already have is still working just fine.



KURS10B
Posts: 4,624
1/23/12 8:09 A

Many of us use the Polar brand HRMs. I have an F4. It is one of their basic models, but you put in plenty of info to get good readings. They are in the $100 range. If you want more info from your monitor, look to one of the more expensive models.



NIMITTA
SparkPoints: (2,897)
Fitness Minutes: (4,465)
Posts: 49
1/23/12 1:24 A

Thank you. Guys, could you recommend something basic (I mean HR monitor) and not too expensive?



CHRISTINA791
SparkPoints: (39,642)
Fitness Minutes: (42,043)
Posts: 789
1/22/12 4:34 P

Even you're just looking at a pure heart rate reading, a chest strap is still going to be a lot more accurate than a single grip on a metal plate. For one, HR taken from the chest is more accurate than from the palms or wrist. There's also the consistency vs. a single reading, since you shouldn't be gripping machine handles the entire time while you work out. A HRM will just read and record the entire time.

Also, out of all the machines I've used, I've only found one that was dead on with the BPM from my monitor (My M-i-L's treadmill is awesome). The rest were inaccurate at best and gave really insane readings at worst - the treadmill in my gym has never shown my heart rate above 80 when using the hand plates. It's old and abused, but I still would rather trust my own monitor than the machine ones that are notoriously twitchy - especially on shared equipment. Machine to machine can be different, too, so if you're using HR to compare one workout to another, it's a bit like trying to weigh yourself with a different scale each day.

Of course, it comes down to what works for the individual. For someone who just wants a quick reading of where their HR is at during certain points during a workout (which is all most people need), a quick hand grab every few minutes will do the job, providing the sensors on your machine are in good working order and you're gripping properly. Those who want a little more information, control, and consistent readings over the entire course of a workout, or those who exercise away from machines with readers, will benefit from a monitor.

I was fine without one until I started needing information about my heart rate that even our accurate machines couldn't tell me. This information allowed me to tailor my exercise (and eventually move it off of the machines) in a way that's a lot more effective... and I'm not talking about things like 'fat-burning' zone or hitting a magic number that will make the weight drop off; I'm talking about learning how your body responds and recovers to different things, and adjusting based on those numbers as they're happening. It's a fantastic way to see if something is slightly 'off' on a familiar workout, because usually my HR profile will tell the story when I'm done.

Edited by: CHRISTINA791 at: 1/22/2012 (16:48)


OBIESMOM2
SparkPoints: (61,388)
Fitness Minutes: (40,069)
Posts: 4,472
1/22/12 3:26 P

I originally bought mine to help me stay in a good workout zone when I'm riding my bike. I also love it for running. It's a great measure of fitness, as I see my resting heart rate get lower (and, as mentioned below, as I see my recovery time shorten).

The one I use also has a lap feature. When I'm running at the park, I can easily keep track of how many laps I've run and my time on each lap. Per lap time also gives me a target; trying to beat my time on the last lap.



SAMANTHA781
Posts: 20
1/22/12 3:24 P

I love my heart rate monitor!

I find that accurately knowing my calories burned is very helpful. Especially in spin class, I burn more calories than the bike thinks. The bikes do not take your weight into account and so its not an accurate reading.

Also, knowing my heart rate is fantastic because i know how hard I am working.



MPLANE37
SparkPoints: (65,095)
Fitness Minutes: (35,097)
Posts: 2,166
1/22/12 3:01 P

You can get an accurate reading of your heart rate in most exercise machines, but there are several important points:
1. You would want your average heart rate to remain around a fixed number, e.g. 150 bpm. You can't keep your hands on the metal plates all the time while exercising, and the moment you lift your hands, your average heart rate will start to drift. There is a solution to this, and that is wearing a chest strap to continuously transmit your heart rate to the machine.
2. The calories burned calculated by your machine tends to be exaggerated most of the time, because it does not depend on your heart rate. Heart rate monitors, on the other hand, can give you a good estimate of calories burned based on your height, weight, age, sex and average heart rate for cardio activities. You can't do that with most of the exercise machines. You obviously can't do that if you decide do go out for a run, or if you decide to do some yard work.



NIMITTA
SparkPoints: (2,897)
Fitness Minutes: (4,465)
Posts: 49
1/22/12 2:03 P

I still do not get it. As far as I understand, the cardio machines measure the amount of calories burnt based on pace and resistance. They do not take into account HR. But they do measure HR by ... directly measuring HR. That is why we hold those those metal things - to let the machine to count HR.



CHRISTINA791
SparkPoints: (39,642)
Fitness Minutes: (42,043)
Posts: 789
1/22/12 1:59 P

Not to mention that you might want to try something that doesn't involve a machine. I love mine for running outdoors, and it often helps me determine my pace. If I'm hill training, I can tell a lot about my progress by where my HR is sitting at the top of a hill I ran last week. The same goes for classes and any other activity where it's just you and your body.

Finally, a HRM with a chest strap will measure your heart rate through the entire duration of the activity. At the end, you can see your average, your max, and how long you spent in a certain range - and that's just on my fairly basic Polar model. Some will get more complex than that and let you upload your info. The hand grips on a machine will only give you a snapshot at that moment in time, and a single pulse test in a class isn't going to give you as much information.

Once you get to a point where you really want to fine tune your activity, it's a great tool. I was fine with the machine grips until I started experiencing some overtraining symptoms. I invested in my HRM, and it gave me a much better picture of what was happening with my workouts, both the positive and the negative.

Edited by: CHRISTINA791 at: 1/22/2012 (14:00)


KURS10B
Posts: 4,624
1/22/12 1:46 P

No. They dont know your sex, weight, age, etc. They just go by your pace. The readings on those are just based on averages that are mos likely way off.



NIMITTA
SparkPoints: (2,897)
Fitness Minutes: (4,465)
Posts: 49
1/22/12 1:41 P

OK. But HR monitors are built in every piece of cardio equipment. Aren't they accurate enough?



MPLANE37
SparkPoints: (65,095)
Fitness Minutes: (35,097)
Posts: 2,166
1/22/12 1:22 P

Heart rate monitor becomes more useful as you advance into fitness journey. In the beginning, as you are very unfit, you already max your heart rate out quickly, so you don't really need a heart rate monitor. But as you develop your fitness, you would not know in what range you are working out unless you see the numbers, and it does matter in what range you are working out if you really want to get fit and also for example if you want to break a plateau of no fat loss.



KURS10B
Posts: 4,624
1/22/12 10:51 A

When I am running, I can see how fast my HR goes back down. The faster it goes down when you are in "recovery" the more fit you are. It also helps me gauge if I need to be doing more. Some days I really have trouble getting my heart rate up. That tells me I need to speed up.



METSFAN81
SparkPoints: (52,489)
Fitness Minutes: (72,415)
Posts: 646
1/22/12 8:32 A

I love wearing my HRM because sometimes I think that I'm working out harder than I am. My HRM synch's with the cardio machines at my gym, so it's a great indicator to increase my intensity if I see my heart rate slipping or lower than I want it. During cardio, I try to keep my heart rate above 160 bpm.

I also love to review the training data and see how many calories I've burned each week!

I have the Polar FT60 - which takes your age, weight, sex, gender and creates a very reliable calorie burn.



MOTIVATED@LAST
Posts: 14,104
1/22/12 8:04 A

One significant benefit is that many (not all) HRM's also extrapolate from your heart rate to how many calories are burned.

This isn't a huge benefit for exercise that is well-studied (eg. running, walking, cycling), but it is useful for forms of exercise where intensity is not as easy to define (eg. aerobics, elliptical, etc).

M@L



FLOPPYRETURNS
SparkPoints: (11,432)
Fitness Minutes: (13,735)
Posts: 113
1/22/12 7:56 A

I have heard from other sparkers that they love their HRMs, but what exactly do you use them for? I realize that they report your heart rate. So do you look at that so that you don't slack off during cardio? Or do they have other useful features? Thanks!



 
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