Heart Rate Monitors

Why You Should Use a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM)

These devices are commonly used by runners and other sports-oriented people. They are particularly valuable during the recovery phase of a workout. If the recovery phase is cut short, the athlete can suffer from an overuse injury.

For example, runners who are training for a marathon want to push themselves as far as possible but not to the point of damaging their body. By monitoring the heart rate, users of these devices have the information needed to judge when their recovery phase is completely over and it’s safe to push their bodies again. The heart rate is an accurate indicator of how hard the heart is working to pump oxygenated blood to the muscles.

Others who benefit from the use of heart monitors are skiers, climbers, bicyclists, hikers and walkers.

Some models have a strap that connects to the chest, which sends data to the wrist portion of the unit. Other models do not have the chest strap. The digital display shows the number of time the heart is beating per minute. Heart rate is also referred to as pulse rate and beats per minute (BPM).

How to Use the Heart Rate Monitor Effectively

* Wear your heart rate monitor during your entire run or workout
* When you finish a workout interval, jog easily or walk until the monitor registers your heart rate to be 65% -70% of your maximum heart rate
* When your heart rate has recovered to that level, it’s safe to begin your next push

Heart rate monitors are particularly helpful for recovery runs. For example, the day after a marathon your enthusiasm is high but you don’t want to push your body too hard too soon. Your muscles, connective tissues, heart and brain need time to recover. Set your monitor to beep when you have reached 75% of your maximum heart rate. This will remind you that your body is recovering from a tough workout and prompt you to slow down your running pace.

Additional Features

Nearly all heart rate monitors also serve as a watch, useful for timing your workouts. Some detect speed and distance, average heart rate over time, number of minutes in a particular heart-rate zone, breathing rate, calories burned and more.

Some heart monitors allow the data to be downloaded on a computer or smart phone app in order to show the highs and lows as well as track the trend of your heart rate.

Buying a Heart Rate Monitor

These devices come in a wide variety of price ranges, depending on comfort, reliability and the various types of data that is tracked and stored.

Online prices start at $70 and upward, look for a unit that is slim and waterproof. They are available in many well-known brand names.

The ultimate goal is to have an affordable monitor that is comfortable to wear, gives accurate data that is not lost with an interruption, and has the extra features that are useful to you.