Fitness + Well-being

Who Should Use a Heart Rate Monitor?

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Heart rate monitors aren't just for pro athletes. Chris Zoller, customer experience manager for Polar USA, tells us why these devices can be beneficial to just about anyone.

Q: Why is it important to monitor your heart rate?

Your heart rate is a convenient, reliable, personal indicator of the intensity of exercise. It provides smart coaching tools, motivation and data before, during and after a workout. It's good to know the intensity of an exercise so that based on personal fitness levels and goals, users can vary the intensity of every workout.

Heart rates can also:

  • Teach you about your body's reaction to exercise
  • Keep you from starting out too hard (as beginners are often tempted), or on the flipside, prevent you from overestimating how many calories you burned
  • Help you control the intensity of your exercise routine
  • Provide feedback on your improvement and provide ongoing motivation

Q: Who should use heart rate monitors?

Anyone can use a heart rate monitor, from children to seniors, and amateurs to elite athletes. They can provide valuable feedback for those who want to take a walk around the neighborhood or those who are striving to finish or win a professional game or race. Heart rate monitors are not medical devices, however. They are intended to help people exercise at the right intensity and listen to their bodies so they can achieve their goals while not over-exerting and potentially harming themselves.

Q: How do you use a heart monitor?

A wrist unit, transmitter and strap are necessary to properly measure heart rate. To get started, a user will enter some basic information, such as age, weight, height and gender, into the wrist unit which will personalize all measurements. Before putting on the strap, they will need to wet the electrodes on the back of the strap (this is as easy as running the strap under the sink). The user then secures the strap around their chest and attaches the transmitter. Once the strap and watch are in place, the user will press the start button on the unit and wait for their recorded heart rate to appear. Once that happens, they can begin to exercise. Depending on the model, the user can also take a quick baseline fitness test, which will help them gauge their fitness level.

Q: Is there any data that indicates people who use heart monitors have more success at losing weight?

We have not conducted any studies on whether or not people who use heart rate monitors are more successful at losing weight, but we do know that they are successful in achieving weight loss goals. Here is a link to our “Polar People” YouTube channel which includes testimonials from individuals who used heart rate to lose significant amounts of weight.

Q: How do you go about finding the right heart monitor?

Polar created a “Product Finder” so users can easily find a heart rate monitor that suits their current lifestyle, typical sports and general level of fitness and goals. Products are also divided into three categories: “Get Active” for beginners, “Improve Fitness” for regular exercises and “Maximize Performance” for trained athletes. These help people to self-identify and then narrow down their choices to find the right unit for them.

For some great picks for women,