Personal use heart monitors, also referred to as wearable health or fitness trackers, have come a long way in the last ten years.
They’ve gone from being a large bulky medical device a doctor used to strap to your chest when he suspected a heart problem, to a sleek modern wristwatch or bangle that can easily be worn every day without drawing too much attention.
There are several reasons you might want to use a heart rate monitor, including:
- Measuring Intensity During Workouts – people that workout regularly find that they need to keep their heart rate above a certain level in order to reach greater intensities. You can be your own personal trainer if you wear a heart monitor while at the gym or doing any type of cardio or resistance training. According to the American Heart Association, targeting your heart rate can maximize your benefit from any cardio activity.
- Monitoring Your Daily Activity – Even if you’re not sweating it out at the gym, many people use these devices to monitor their activity levels throughout the day while trying to increase their fitness level. You can set and monitor a goal for a number of steps or a number of calories burned per day.
- Having A Safer Workout – If you have any health concerns then it is a good idea to monitor your heart rate while you exercise, especially if you have a heart condition or high blood pressure.
- Monitoring Health Conditions – Even while at rest, some people might have a necessity to monitor their heart rate and breathing. The data collected can be useful for your doctor or could alert you to a potential problem.
- Retrieving Other Health Data – You can find out a lot about your health from a heart rate monitor because these days they do a whole lot more than count your heartbeats per minute. Some health monitors have even uncovered undiagnosed sleep apnea when worn overnight.
You might be thinking about a heart monitor as a Christmas gift for a loved one, or maybe you have some 2020 fitness goals you want to accomplish. Either way, there are some tips and tricks to help you pick out the perfect heart monitor this year. While shopping, ask yourself the following questions:
#1. How Do You Want To Wear Your Heart Monitor?
When a doctor wants to monitor your heart they use the chest strap monitor, while people prefer the wristwatch version for personal use. BMC Sports Science, Medicine, and Rehabilitation did a study that proved that the wrist-worn heart monitors are just as accurate as the chest monitors. The wrist-worn monitors work, as Harvard Medical explains, by measuring blood flow through the skin. The choice really comes down to how you feel most comfortable and what activities you plan to do while wearing the device. If you are sleeping or at rest, the chest-strap monitor might be alright but if you will be doing any physical activity then the wrist-worn models will be better.
#2. How Simple Does It Need To Be?
If you or your gift recipient isn’t very tech-savvy, that’s OK. Heart monitors come with a range of options and you don’t have to get all the bells and whistles if you don’t need them. Having a device that is easy to operate makes it more likely that you will use it, promoting good health. If your gift is for an older person, your parents or grandparents, make sure there are fewer buttons and the device is easy to set up and get running with minimal assistance.
#3. Can You Read The Display Easily?
The display size on a wrist-device is very important if you have impaired vision. A larger screen size might be a little more clunky to wear but the numbers will be easier to view. Each product has its own display type and you can take into account the type of lighting, screen material, and screen size, as well as the font type and size of the numbers themselves. It will help if you can see the displays in person before choosing one.
#4. What Relevant Health Data Do You Want To Collect?
If you’re looking at heart monitors then it’s safe to say that you want to know your heart rate at any given time. Today’s heart monitors, however, can detect lots of other important health information in addition to the heart rate that you might find useful. If you get a fully-featured health monitor like the FitBit, for instance, you can get data on your calorie expenditure, temperature, sleep habits, breathing and more. Knowing your sleep cycle and quality can give you just as much health information as your heart rate. Keep in mind, the number of things you want to be able to track will increase the complexity of the device.
#5. What Is Your Heart Rate Monitor Budget?
How much do heart rate monitors cost? You can get a very simple device for under $50 but you can also get a top of the line model for close to $500. There is something to fit everyone’s budget. The cheaper versions will not track as much health information, have shorter battery life and maybe not be as stylish. Elite heart rate monitors and fitness trackers can be modern, stylish or even sporty.
#6. What Do Current Customers Have To Say?
Last but not least, find out what other customers have to say by carefully reading reviews. It’s best to check out just as many 1 & 2 star reviews as you do 4 & 5 star reviews to get a full picture of what people like and dislike about the different models.
Still not sure which heart monitor is best for you? Check out this list of popular heart monitors put together by CoolThingsChicago.com. Armed with this much research, you’re sure to pick out the best heart monitor for your specific needs.