I have a low-level Polar chest strap and watch for heart rate monitoring. I like that I can use the chest strap on just about any treadmill and sync up for monitoring my heart rate while on the treadmill - that's been super handy when I travel and use the hotel gyms etc.
The Polar watch that goes with it though needs a new battery - so I just have to get that changed then I can use it with the chest strap again. I haven't used the watch itself in a long time as the chest strap works with all the treadmills.
Fitness Minutes: (63,424)
127 8/26/13 9:27 P
The Polar watches with the chest straps are really good. My husband used an entry level Polar (with chest strap) for years before wearing it out and upgrading to a Garmin 405 with GPS tracking.
I really liked the GPS thing he had when I started exercising. However, I didn't want to spend the $150+ to get it. Instead, I found that my smart phone had a choice of several free apps that would support the Zephyr HRM. It's a chest strap HRM that communicates with the phone via Bluetooth. There are now 2 versions (basically one for Android and the other for iPhone until Androids support the new Bluetooth format) and they run no more than $75. The phone apps generally have a code for at least $5 off, too. And did I mention that the phone apps are FREE? There are probably 5-10 apps that support this HRM AND give you the GPS options; upgrading to the professional version that unlocks fancy features might set you back another whole $5. It does mean that you have to exercise with your cell phone (which can double as your MP3 player).
I let my cell phone ride in a little Amphipod waistpack which usually rides on the small of my back. It doesn't bounce around a lot and it doesn't get very sweaty, either. The waistpack is small enough that I can put it under my shirt and thread the earbuds up through the neck of my shirt. Aside from removing the less-than-beautiful effect of cinching in a waist I don't yet possess, keeping it under my shirt also hides my device in the event that thieves are on the trail (a very real problem in urban parts of some trails in the area, but not so much in the suburban/rural areas).
There are two programs I like for general fitness on my Android: SportsTracker and Endomondo. There are plenty of others, but these two, plus the Zephyr HRM have met my needs quite well. Something that the smart phone apps can do that the watches can't is to vocalize live stats to you and even speak intervals to you. For example, you can set it to tell you every, say, 2 minutes to tell you your heart rate, current pace, and cadence (no need to buy a foot pod for that, either). I need encouragement along the way, and hearing the stats every 2 minutes keeps me honest about how hard I'm working. I also don't look at my phone/watch every 20 seconds, either! I really like this solution.
Is it accurate? Yes. I've tested it while also wearing my husband's Polar and Garmin watches (not all three at the same time, though!).
If you don't mind carting your cell phone along, you might check the Bluetooth chest strap options like Zephyr. There are several other brands, now, like Wahoo for iPhones. I like the fact that I can choose which app to use instead of using only the Polar or Garmin websites for tracking.
Fitness Minutes: (10,640)
8/26/13 5:59 P
I've been using Polar for years. I started out using the basic one (can't remember which one but I know they don't make it anymore). Over the years my fitness goals have changed so I've upgraded. I am currently using the Polar RCX5 but I run marathons and triathlons and this particular watch fits the bill.
If you are looking for a basic HRM that counts calories then the Polar FT7 is a great one. You can probably get one on Amazon for around $80. I would recommend staying away from the cheap ones or the ones without the strap. They tend to be unreliable (at least that's what others have told me).
I have the Polar FT7, it's super easy to set up and use and keep track of your heart rate over an exercise as well as your calories burned. When I was researching, it seemed all Polars were very user friendly, and they just varied in how many bells and whistles they had.
Do something everyday that your future self will thank you for.
Fitness Minutes: (27,624)
8/26/13 5:17 P
I currently use a fitbit but have heard that HRM are much better for figuring out caloric burn for many activities. Can anyone recommend a good one and is it easy to figure out how many calories you've burned by using it?
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