You need one! They take the guessing out of how many calories you burn during your cardio session. Get one with a chest strap and make sure it asks for your info- gender, age, weight, height- Polar is a great brand- I have never regretted spending the $$$- The best piece of fitness equipment I own.
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Before I had a heart rate monitor I was totally overestimating my calorie burn and underestimating my calorie intake. My heart rate monitor detects how many cals I burn, what my heart rate is at so I can make sure to stay in my fat burning zone, and I know how many more or less calories I should/shouldn't eat! I highly recommend one!
The heart rate monitors and calorie counters on exercise machines aren't very accurate. I have a heart rate monitor that has an alarm when I'm not in the target zone for cardio and it counts calories. It's like having a personal trainer to tell you to push harder without the cost of one!
I bought myself a heart rate monitor and wear it whenever I exercise -- even when I am just walking. In addition to measuring my heart rate, the monitor keeps track of the time spent and calories burned. It even stores the information -- and it doubles as a watch. (It's from Polar.)
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