A DailySpark blog showing fitness gadgets happened to have the Polar RS100 heart rate monitor shown. I followed the link to Amazon, saw the price, and decided it was time to move ahead with my plan to get one.
It arrived on Monday. I didn't get it out and swoon
until after work. I liked how neatly it was packaged, a small black box. Not sure why I expected something big and clunky. There's three pieces - the watch which tracks the data, the chest strap, and the transmitter.
It didn't take me too long to figure out how to get into the settings on the watch, just a few looks at the little guide and some button poking, and soon enough it had my vitals and was ready to go. The chest strap thus far seems to be reasonably comfortable. Then again, a few decades of wearing bras makes one used to a snug band around your rib cage.
It was at that point I ran into my first confusion. I know my resting heart rate - usually in the 58 bpm to 62 bpm range. It read 32. Adjust strap. No change. Turn off and turn back on. No change. Wet the electrodes more. (
That sounds horribly kinky for some reason ... or my mind is just in the gutter ... MOVING ON ...) No change.
Fuss, fuss, fuss. Take off strap, put it all back on. Ah! There's a 64! That's more like it.
Beep! Beep! Beep!
Okay, I know I set the sounds to OFF ... why is it beeping at me? Oh! My HR is below the limits set. Well, DUH! I'm sitting here figuring the thing out. How do I make it stop beeping?
I didn't actually figure that out the first day, but it wasn't obtrusive enough once I was outside of the office to worry over. I did learn just how freakishly (in a GOOD way) fast my HR drops back to a resting level. I already knew that even my very brisk walk isn't enough to get my HR up all that high, but it was amusing to see it in action.
I did my lower body workout that night and had it running through the majority of that. The calories burned it calculated and what SP came up with were nearly dead-on (4 calories apart). I have to admit I was rather shocked at that. With any strength training exercise that I've manually entered, I just put 5 calories. The ones that come from SP calculate numbers in the 13 to 15 range. Somewhere in the adding all of that together, it worked out.
Then yesterday it went back to showing me 32 again. NOTHING that I did would get it to show me the expected range.
I went online and searched. It BETTER NOT be the battery was my thought after reading numerous forums. (I'd be rather miffed to be sent an almost dead battery.)
Fuss, fuss, fuss. Ponder buying whatever gel some were recommending. Fuss, fuss. Change heart rate limits so it doesn't warn if I pass the Low. There, no more beeping ... if I can just get it to show the right .... wait a minute. 64?
Yesterday's cardio workout, it showed about 100 calories less burned than SP came up with. I did 30 minutes each on the elliptical and the recumbent bike. I've always thought SP's numbers for the stationary bike seemed a little high. They're about 200 over what the bike itself calculates per hour workout. Since I did both, it's a little hard to tell if that's where all the difference was from.
I also messed around a little bit last night and recorded an hour's worth of laying in bed writing and browsing on my laptop. Multiplying the resulting calories burned by 24 came up with around 1725. That's higher than the calculated BMR of 1520 (but that's to be expected as it wasn't completely at rest with minimal motion) but lower than the sedentary AMR of 1815 (which again makes sense because I wasn't doing any getting up and walking around which would be normal through a full day).
(Of course, it likely bases the calories burned on the same basic calculations, so it SHOULD be right in that range. This just gives me a nice confirmation that the numbers outside of deliberate activity are in the right range.)
Oh, and the 32 - 40 numbers?
Happened again. It was looking fine for the first couple hours, but suddenly it was reading 32 again.
Wet the electrodes. Nothing.
Poke buttons on the watch.
OHHHHHHHH! There's my 60. Poke button again. And there's the 32. I feel like a dodo. All this fussing and fussing and it was just me bumping a button on the side. My griping and frustration were purely self-inflicted.
Okay, so the button toggles between HR ... and what? Onto the website I went and pulled up the manual.
It's a percent of my maxHR.
Y'know, for all that I know quite well that I want 60 - 85 % of maxHR when working out, I had never once wondered what percentage the resting HR was of maxHR.
Now, beyond that, I haven't quite decided how I want to use it most effectively. Today I'm doing a longer BMR test of sorts. I put it on and started the timer early this morning. I plan to use "laps" to break up my workout (cardio, weights, stretching), but otherwise have it run until I'm getting ready to sleep. The end result (plus the remaining hours to hit 24) should give me a pretty good guesstimate of my calories out in a typical workday.
I definitely wanted this for my weight workouts - to see where they actually sit in terms of basic calorie burn. It will also be useful when I do longer walks or when I know I'll be out and about on my feet most of a day - to get a better feel for how much more I burn.
I did wear it while walking Buster yesterday. That's always interesting because there are times we're running along and times I'm standing around waiting on his sniffer, so 20 minutes to go around the block (about 0.4 miles) isn't quite as light a workout as a mile in 45 minutes would register as. Natural intervals, hmm?
More generally, I am satisfied with the heart monitor at this point - though I wish the display had been clearer about being a percentage. (Now that I look, there is a tiny % off to the left that shows up. But not being larger and to the right of the number, I would not have seen it.)
Keeping the strap clean seems easy enough. It's noticeable that I have the strap on, but not bothersome. Being able to easily unsnap the transmitter when I'm not using it to save the battery is nice, though being a woman that could look a little odd if I do it in public.
The watch is lightweight, though of necessity has some bulk. In fact, it remains to be seen how well it stands up to the typical abuse being on my wrist entails. (Years back I had a very nice watch I really loved. About every 6 months, it seemed, I had to have the glass / crystal face replace because it would end up so scratched up I couldn't read it. Another watch snapped where the band meets the face when it caught on something. I'm rough on them without intending to be.)
Combine that with the cheapo pedometer I got after losing the Secret Santa gifted one, and I'm probably fitness gadgeted out for now. A good thing. I'm going to need to save money for other things, like more workout shirts in a smaller size.