Heart Rate Monitors – Why buy one?
A heart rate monitor is an electronic monitoring device that enables a user to measure his or her heart rate. Some transmit the user’s heart rate in real time while others record the heart rate for later study. Heart rate monitors are mostly used by athletes and performers of various physical exercises. There are two different types of monitors: wireless chest strap that measure heart rate using electrical pulse and wrist-based monitors that use optical technology. Unlike on-demand pulse monitors which only indicate a value at a single point, both chest strap and wrist-based monitors track and record heart rate during the exercise.
Heart rate trackers used to be tricky and tedious, but today’s devices are sleek and smart. Basic heart rate monitors show the time of your exercise and provide continuous, average, low and high heart rate data. Advanced monitors give up to six target zones and include additional features such as lap counters, speed and distance monitors, stopwatches, and calorie counters.
The Value of Monitoring your Heart Rate
Whether you’re just trying to keep fit or you’re a professional athlete, a heart rate monitor can help you achieve your goals. Having an intense workout does not necessarily mean great results. Therefore, to achieve your fitness and health goals, you need to know your heart rate zone for optimum results. A monitor helps you to train intelligently by using your heart rate data to guide the intensity and length of your exercises. This data enables you to make your workouts more fun, effective, and better targeted.
A heart rate tracker also helps you to monitor your resting heart rate to assess your fitness progress, determine when to rest and how long you need to rest and detect fatigue. Monitors also provide useful feedback such as calorie burn stats, enabling you to improve your workouts.
Elite athletes have used heart rate monitors for decades. Apart from fitness and health, the monitors help them to improve their performance.
Chest Strap vs. Watch
When buying a heart rate monitor, the biggest dilemma is whether to get a chest strap HRM or a wrist-based HRM. Both monitors do a fine job tracking your heart rate while you swim, run, walk or rest. However, different research studies have shown that chest straps are more accurate than wristwatch trackers because they are closer to the heart. Chest straps such as Polar H10 measure the beats of the heart at the source by detecting the small electrical signal that the body creates. The wrist-based monitors such as the Apple watch measure the downstream flow of blood by using optical technology that sends light into the skin and detects the light coming back.
However, wristwatch monitors are more comfortable and convenient than chest straps. Unlike wristwatch trackers, chest straps are irritable and can slide down while working out if they are not tight enough. They can also get sweaty and smelly if not washed properly.
How Much Does Accuracy Matter?
The main reasons for using a heart rate monitor is to know one’s resting heart rate and use heart rate data for their workout in order to improve their fitness and health. It’s easy to read resting heart rate, which can also be done by feeling your pulse with two fingers. Any device can easily read the resting heart rate accurately. However, it’s usually difficult to read heart rate accurately when exercising.
When it comes to measuring the heart rate data during an exercise, the accuracy of the readings matters a lot, especially when it comes to the heart rate zones. Precision is also very important in determining the heart rate recovery. Measuring how fast one’s heart rate decreases after an intense workout is very critical in measuring their health and fitness hence the data needs to be as accurate as possible. Chest straps are more accurate than wristwatch monitors for this kind of readings. Optical monitors are not as effective as chest straps when it comes to reading rapid heart rate changes.
Value for Money vs. Quality
When buying a gadget, you always want to get the best value for your money. Today, there are diverse types and styles of heart rate monitors on the market, and they come at varying prices depending on the features. The most important thing when considering the quality of a monitor is its accuracy. Another factor is connectivity – most HRMs use ANT+, but some have incorporated Bluetooth, such that the user can pair the monitor directly and easily to their phone. Other factors to consider are the comfort and convenience of the monitor.
When choosing a heart rate monitor, you want to get one with the features that you want, high accuracy and is within your budget. However, sometimes opting for a budget monitor means compromising on quality. Therefore, it’s always recommended to focus on heart rate trackers which have high accuracy and are reliable. If you’re looking to train in the most efficient way and achieve your goals, you must find a high-quality heart rate monitor that will give you accurate data.