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Should You Use a Wrist Heart Rate Monitor?

By Christina Bhattacharya February 05, 2016 Posted in: Heart Health , Article

If you want to get healthy, using a wrist heart rate monitor might be just what you need to stay on the right path. These portable tools are useful in tracking many variables to help you achieve your health and exercise goals. The most inclusive heart rate monitors are designed to record your heart rate and calories burned, with numerous extra features that create a well-rounded and easy-to-use platform for fitness tracking.

Why You Should Use a Wrist Heart Rate Monitor

Getting healthy can be tough without a set goal. Besides following a set volume of exercise, you should also monitor each exercise's intensity level. Understanding your heart rate can help you keep tabs on your activity level and recognize emerging health issues.

A wrist heart rate monitor can help you find your target heart rate zone per minute, helping you be more mindful of how your heart rate relates to your present activity level by displaying when your heart rate is too low or too high. The most comprehensive models on the market today are smart and precise fitness computers that measure a range of health variables.

Types of Monitors

The two most common types of heart monitors are:

  • Chest-strap models. This wireless device wraps around your chest and detects your heart rate, transmitting the number to a wristwatch-style receiver.
  • Strapless models. Avoid straps by only wearing the watchlike device, which detects your heart rate through a sensor on the watchband or back of the watch. The trade-off of going strapless is that, while it's less obtrusive, it's not as accurate as the chest-strap monitor.

Monitor Features

Heart rate monitor features are dependent on your price point; more expensive models will have the most features. Here are some to look out for:

  • Target zones. Your heart rate is divided into a series of ranges (average, high, low, target) that give you a general idea of the intensity of your workout's intensity. You can preprogram your monitor for different types of workouts. Some monitors track how long you spend within each zone and how long it takes your heart to return to its resting rate. Some models will alert you if your rate is going above or below a chosen target range.
  • Calorie counter. Based on set parameters (such as age and weight), this estimates calories burned during exercise.
  • Speed/distance tracking. More advanced models calculate your speed and distance covered in a particular activity using a GPS receiver (outdoors) or a foot pod attached to shoelaces (indoors).
  • Digital interface. Some models allow you to connect, either wirelessly or with a cord, your heart rate monitor to your smartphone or home computer so you can download activity statistics for analysis.
  • Coded transmitter. Several advanced models send a signal that is designed to prevent other heart rate monitors in the vicinity, such as in a crowded gym, from interfering with your heart rate data.

Heart monitors offer benefits to people of all fitness levels, whether you exercise recreationally, are targeting weight loss, or are training for a marathon. People who are rehabbing from an injury or health condition (such as a cardiac event) also benefit from tracking their heart rates, as the data is a good way of tracking your health during a gradual return to full strength.

A wrist heart rate monitor is a great asset for helping you recognize if your exercise activity is influencing your health and heart. Before starting any activity or exercise program, speak with your doctor to determine a program that is right for your goals and current health condition.

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