Getting into shape is not an easy task, which is why it’s important to have the right tools to help you. In my own quest to get fit, I’ve discovered that a heart rate monitor is essential for various reasons, including making sure that I’m working out in the right range for my goals. Of course, I didn’t go right out and buy one. I did my research first. So, on my quest to find the best heart rate monitor, I spoke to some of my friends who exercise regularly and asked them about their monitors.
Polar FT7 Heart Rate Monitor Watch
The Polar FT7 Heart Rate Monitor Watch is an unit that retails for under $100, and it offers some interesting features. I actually tested this unit out myself, thanks to a coworker who was going on vacation and wouldn’t be using it for a while. She knew I was on the hunt for a good unit and rather than tell me how her Polar FT7 was the best heart monitor, she decided to lend it to me so I could assess it myself.
Before using it, I did a little online research, because I like being thorough. So, it’s supposed to help you improve your workouts by making sure you’re staying in your target heart rate zone, but it’s also designed to help you analyze the information while you’re training to further improve your results. There’s also a website where you can keep a training journal, and they even provide training programs and a few other features.
Apparently, you can also use it as a regular wristwatch, which I initially scoffed at. Before seeing it, all I could think of was who’d want such a clunky watch on their wrist all day. And I tend not to trust photos. But the fact is that it’s quite an attractive unit, and while I probably wouldn’t wear it to work, I wouldn’t have any issue with using it as a regular watch on weekends.
Once I tested it myself, I had to agree with my coworker that it’s an excellent heart rate monitor. It offers all the features I could possibly need, including counting calories burned, along with a sleek, stylish design. And since it’s also water resistant to 30 meters, the Polar FT7 went to the top of my wish list, as I was certain it was the best heart rate monitor for my needs.
Polar RS 100
One of my friends swears by the Polar RS 100. The reason she loves it so much is because it’s really easy to use. She’s not all that technologically inclined, and she gets lost if you give her anything that’s too complicated. The Polar RS100 is advertised as being perfect for a beginner who doesn’t want anything other than basic features, which is why it’s the best heart rate monitor for my friend. The less complicated, the better is her motto.
What she likes is that it has an interval timer and that she can program her target heart rate and percentages based on her fitness levels. The unit also tells her how many calories she’s burned and what percentage of them came from fat, which she loves because numbers motivate her.
Of course, the unit has other features that she doesn’t use all that often, like GymLink, which you can use to connect with gym equipment that’s compatible. It also beeps to alert you when you’re out of your target zone. I can see the benefit of this, especially if you’re going n a longer run and don’t want the watch around your wrist, but my friend always has her music turned up so loud that she can never hear it.
All in all, this is the best heart rate monitor for someone just starting out, or a person who likes their gadgets to be as simple as possible. It’s an excellent option for a beginner but I wasn’t certain if it was the best heart rate monitor for me.
Garmin Forerunner 110 GPS-Enabled Sport Watch with Heart Rate Monitor
I borrowed the Garmin Forerunner 110 from a family member, and I have to say I was impressed. It comes with a highly sensitive GPS receiver that tracks everywhere you go, regardless of where you are, which is a handy feature.
It tracks your run, not only telling you how many minutes it took you to cover a mile, but also your average and maximum heart rates. It also creates a map of your run, which you can download to your computer.
This is useful because you can alternate routes to change things up, and if you save your maps, you can see how much you’ve improved over time. In fact, Garmin has a site where you can set goals, see a summary of your workouts, and do a lot more, which is useful if you’re like me and enjoy analyzing everything you do.
I think that the best thing about it is that it’s pretty easy to use, with all its features. You don’t need to take a university course just to figure out how to check your heart rate, which makes it a clear winner in my book. It doesn’t hurt that it retails for under $200 either. Despite all the positives, I still wasn’t sure that the Garmin was the best heart rate monitor for my needs, so the search continued.
Timex Personal Trainer Heart Rate Monitor
Another friend of mine has the Timex Personal Trainer Heart Rate Monitor and when he told me how many features it has and the he paid under $100 for it, I was seriously impressed. He says it’s one of the best purchasing decisions he’s ever made and he’s pretty sure that it’s the best heart monitor on the market for anyone looking for a unit with advanced features at a reasonable price.
Marketed as an advanced athletic training unit, the Timex heart rate monitor gives you a variety of options. You can track almost anything, including how intensely you are training, and it helps keep you motivated to meet your training goals.
It’s a very accurate monitor, and has a lot of features such as calorie counting, a back-light so you can see what’s happening on those night runs, as well as a sound alert when you’re out of your target heart rate zone, which is useful if you want to keep the watch in your backpack while on a longer trek.
Another cool thing about this monitor is that the watch is quite large. Some would see it as a drawback, but my friend, who doesn’t have perfect vision, really likes the fact that he doesn’t have to squint at the screen to see anything. The Timex monitor is also water resistant up to 30 meters, and while my friend doesn’t swim, he does appreciate knowing he can run in the rain without having to worry about damaging his heart rate monitor. While I told him that his monitor doesn’t have to be water resistant for him to run in the rain, he just said “better safe than sorry.”
Suunto Quest Running Pack
The Suunto Quest Running Pack is the ultimate dream for anyone who is serious about their exercise, and the best heart rate monitor on the market as far as I’m concerned. Yes, it’s expensive by comparison, retailing at over $200, but it’s worth every cent.
At first, I wasn’t willing to spend over $100, but then I found the Suunto Quest Running Pack. This pack comes with a heart rate monitor and a mini foot POD, which allows you to track how fast you’re going and the distance you’ve covered. It doesn’t use GPS, which is why it’s so great—you don’t have to wait forever for your unit to hook up to a satellite. You can start running as soon as your feet hit the ground, and you know every move will be tracked.
Of course, it tracks your heart rate, but also offers guidance on intensity, duration, and speed in real time, helping you to get the most out of your workout. It also has an interval timer, a stopwatch with laps, and you can even personalize the layout of the screen to whatever suits you best.
Then there’s the website where you can perform in-depth analyses of your workouts, as well as create custom training programs and download them. I have to admit that I splurged on the Suunto Quest Running Pack simply because it was the best heart rate monitor for me. It not only offered me all the features I was looking for and more, but it let my inner geek come out to play thanks to the great website.
Yes, it was the most expensive one of the bunch, but I decided that my health was worth investing in, especially since I’ll have it for years. Now it’s your turn. What’s your heart rate monitor of choice? Share with us your experience in the comment box below.