How to Choose a Heart Rate Monitor

Basic models display only your heart rate, and perhaps elapsed exercise time. With the increasing price, you get a variety of useful features such as:

  • Heart rate zone alarm: Set the zone and it alerts you when you are high or low.
  • Timers: Countdown timer, stopwatch, interval timers, clock, alarm.
  • Calories burned.
  • Time in zone splits.
  • Fitness test.
  • Computer/app link.
  • Pre-programmed workouts.

Display and Ease of Use

Besides features, shop for how easy it is to use. Can you read the numbers easily? Does it have a backlight for use in low light? Are there so many features that you will have to carry the manual to figure out how to use it each time? Are the buttons well labeled and easy to find and push?

App Considerations

If you use a chest strap that has no monitor other than the cell phone app, how easy is it to use? Does it give you regular audio updates or do you have to check the screen? Can you use a variety of apps with the chest strap?



Once you have chosen which features you want, it comes down to price. Sales are common and you can find a wide variation in the price of the same model. Shop around and you may be pleased to find your dream monitor for much less than suggested retail price.

Pulse Monitors

These Monitors work by detecting your pulse -- usually by placing one or two fingers on sensor buttons. They cannot give you a constant reading of your heart rate, you have to take it on demand instead. They are also trickier to use than the chest strap monitors -- cold fingers, etc. can give you no reading or wild readings.

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