Heart Rate 101 – How to Choose A Heart Rate Monitor

How to Choose A Heart Rate Monitor

A heart rate monitor is a painless, easy way to get accurate data on your heart rate in real time or record it for later analysis. It is composed of two elements: a chest strap transmitter and a wrist receiver.

Early heart rate monitors used conductive smart fabric with built-in microprocessors that study ECG signals. Modern units use optics and infrared light to measure the heart rate.

A heart rate monitor is commonly used by athletes and people who exercise a lot. Also, it is used to diagnose symptoms of cardiovascular conditions such as arrhythmia.

When it comes to heart rate monitors, what are the factors to consider? It is not as easy as going to the store and getting the first product that you see. You need to consider important factors such as its technical specifications and build quality.

How to choose a heart rate monitor

Older version or newer version?

Heart rate monitors come in different versions, features, and design. Old versions use a radio signal which can be a simple radio pulse or a unique coded signal from the chest strap. This radio signal is transmitted through Bluetooth, ANT or low power radio link.

Newer versions use a microprocessor to accurately monitor the ECG and measure the heart rate, as well as accelerometers and other features. These devices can track a lot of statistics such as time in a particular heart rate zone, calories burned, average heart rate over a workout period, detailed logging, and distance and speed.

Would you prefer the old version or the newer version?

Types of monitor

Heart rate monitors can be worn in either of the two ways: as a chest strap or on the wrist. Consider your daily activities or workout routine, the features that you want/need, and where you want to wear it.

For swimmers, the monitor should be waterproof or splash-proof. Monitoring features may include a calorie counter, speed or distance calculators, timers, smartphone or PC connectivity, and multiple heart rate zone readouts.

Exercise target zone

The warm up zone is ideal for people who are just starting to exercise. It elevates the pulse rate by 50 to 60 %. The warm up zone helps burn fats, reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, increase endurance and so on.

Higher intensity exercise and greater frequency yields additional health benefits. The fat burning zone makes the heart work at 60 to 70 % above normal. The cardio zone puts the heart rate at 70 to 80 % above normal. At the cardio zone, the cardiovascular system is strengthened more and more calories are burned.

Healthy heart rates

Without the use of heart monitors, the heart rate can still be measured manually and accurately. It is done by locating the pulse on your neck or on your wrist.

Count the beats for 10 seconds. Repeat it for three times and get the average number. Then multiply this number by 6. The product is the heart rate per minute.

A normal heart rate ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute (bpm). Research says that a lower heart rate means more efficient cardiovascular function. However, different factors can affect the heart rate including the following:

  • Position of the body
  • Emotions
  • Fitness level
  • Activity level
  • Size of the body
  • Air temperature
  • Medications

A high heart rate or unusually low heart rate may indicate an underlying heart problem. It is important to seek medical advice quickly for proper diagnosis and medication.

How to maintain a healthy heart

Maintaining a healthy heart is important in keeping the entire body’s organs functioning properly. The heart is a muscular organ that pumps blood, nutrients, and oxygen to the body through the blood vessels. It also aids in the removal of metabolic waste.

To maintain a healthy heart, a healthy lifestyle is required. You need to stop bad habits such as drinking too much alcohol. Reduce the intake of foods rich in fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Being fit and physically active keep the heart at normal heart rate.

It is also recommended to have your blood pressure checked regularly. This is especially true for people aged 40 years old and above, who should have their blood pressure checked at least once a year. Those aged 18-39 years old should have it checked every 3-5 years.