In preparation for my annual, “I’m going to get healthier this year!” New Year’s resolution, I bought a heart monitor. I have heard and read a lot of things about how great they are and all the ways they can help you get fitter and be healthier and I wanted to try it for myself. After doing quite a bit of research, I considered a number of different heart monitors and ultimately settled on the one I thought would work best for me. Now, after using it for a while, seeing how cool it is and all the benefits it can provide, I am here to tell you, I bought a heart monitor. Here is why it’s a great investment.
Why Buy a Heart Monitor?
A heart rate monitor is a great tool for anyone looking to get more fit or just keep track of and understand their heart health better. Monitoring your heart rate used to require large, bulky machinery but that is no longer the case. With advancements in technology, heart monitors have become cool, wearable tech that is not only easy to use but also super convenient to have around. You can choose from several different types of wearable tech heart monitors. You can get a monitor that looks like a watch, one you strap around your chest, or even one you can wear on your head. Most do not have a display so you can connect it right to your smartphone to get your readings. This will allow you to train better, safer, and more effectively as you go down your path towards better health and fitness.
Benefits of Wearing a Heart Monitor
There are many benefits I have found that comes from wearing a heart monitor. Many have to do with fitness goals but it has other benefits as well. Some of the top benefits include:
- Know your baseline, see your progress. When you understand your resting heart rate and then start to get an idea of where it goes when you exert yourself, you will get a better idea of how hard you need to work out to achieve your goals. You will also find that as you get more fit, your heart becomes healthier and more efficient. So, if the same workout that used to elevate your heart rate by 30 or 40 BPM only raises it by 20 BPM or so after a few weeks, you will know you are on the right track!
- Be safer. When you exert yourself too hard during a workout, there can be many negative side effects. These can range from burning yourself out and not being able to work out again for a few days to put your heart health in serious danger. Wearing a heart monitor will not just show you your beats per minute, it will give you an understanding of what is happening with your heart at all times which will allow you to be safer and healthier overall. See what is coming. One benefit that is not exactly related to fitness is that you will get a better idea of what is going on with your health when you have a better understanding of your heart rate. When you are not working out but your normal resting heart rate starts to rise, it can be a sign of a few different issues. It could mean you are dehydrated. It may mean you are under stress or have anxiety. It could even mean you are coming down with a cold. Knowing your resting heart rate will help you see all these things before they happen so you can better deal with them before they become a problem.
How to Use a Heart Monitor to Train
In order to properly use a heart rate monitor to train and meet your fitness goals, you need to first calculate your max heart rate. The best way to this is with this simple formula:
- (MHR) = 208 – (0.7 x your age)
So, if you are 30 years-old, for example, you multiply 30 by 0.7 (21) then subtract that from 208. This means your maximum heart rate is 187 BPM.
Once you have that number, you can calculate what you need to get your heart rate up to so that you can meet your fineness goals. For low-intensity cardio, you want to be between 0.6 x MHR and 0.7 x MHR (between about 112 BMP and 130 BMP in the scenario above). For moderate-intensity between .7 and .85 x MHR (130 BPM to 159 BPM) and for high-intensity form .85 x MHR up to your max heart rate (159 BPM to 187 BPM).
The Best Heart Monitors to Buy
The greatest thing about heart monitors nowadays is also one of the biggest problems with heart monitors. There are so many to choose from! With so many options it can be incredibly daunting to choose the one that is right for you and your needs. Luckily, there are plenty of resources to help with your decision. We will go through some of the types of heart rate monitors here but if you are trying to decide, you should check out more detailed and comprehensive lists. Health Care Weekly has a great list of the Top 7 heart monitors on the market and Cool Things Chicago provides a very thorough buying guide to help you out. Here is a quick list though of some of the top makes and models.
Watches – For smartwatches that monitor your heart, many of the biggest players in the game have options for you. Fitbit, Garmin, and, of course, Apple smartwatches all have their own specialized watches or apps for regular smartwatches that will do the job for you.
Chest Straps – These are heart monitors that you can hide from sight and where you can find many that are less expensive than a full smartwatch. They usually do not have displays so the data goes to an app on your phone. Be aware of comfort because they do rest right on your skin.
Headbands – A product like the Moov HR Sweat headband is cool because it has some interesting technological features like real-time coaching based on your heart rate but headbands can get uncomfortable and some people also think they look silly.
If you have a goal to improve your health and fitness in the New Year or anytime, I highly recommend a heart rate monitor. They are widely available and come in a range of options and give you a lot of benefits for your overall health.