Why should I use one?
Here some of the top reasons why you should consider purchasing a heart rate monitor:
Measure the intensity of your workout. Exercise intensity is very important. When too low, you’re not burning that many calories or achieving the health benefits of exercise; when too high, you could be risking injury or HURTING your body’s ability to burn fat efficiently. Using a heart rate monitor shows you exactly where you stand at every moment of your workout so you can quickly assess and readjust if necessary—without stopping, counting your pulse, or doing any math calculations.
Calculate your target training zone. A proper aerobic training zone varies between 55% and 85% of your maximum heart rate, depending on your health status and fitness level. Most monitors allow you to input information such as your age, weight, gender and resting heart rate to calculate your training zone. Some even test your heart rate during exercise to assess your fitness level before recommending a training zone. By using a heart rate monitor, you'll know when to change up your routine to continue challenging yourself once the same activity becomes easy for you.
Calculate how many calories you burn during exercise. Not all models offer this feature, but calculations from a HRM are much more accurate than other methods that tend to overestimate calorie burn (such as the readout from a machine or an online calculator). Knowing the number of calories you're burning is particularly important when trying to lose weight.
In addition, the data from a heart rate monitor can be useful when reporting back to your doctor about your fitness program; the receiver (watch) usually offers other useful tools, such as a timer for your exercise session, data storage, and programmable features, such as a beeping alarm that will sound when your intensity is too low or too high. Most models will allow you to monitor your heart rate in both beats per minute and percentage of max, depending on which method is easiest for you to understand.
How do I choose a heart rate monitor?
There are hundreds of different models and styles to choose from, so think about the features that are most important to you before making a purchase. Do you want a heart rate monitor that is water resistant for swimming; that will save workout information you can upload to your computer; that offers different training programs; or one that counts calories?