While heart rate monitors are great tools for both professional athletes and the average Joe trying to get in shape, there are so many on the market that choosing the right one can be hard. There are dozens of models with various functions and their price can vary a lot depending on several factors.
What is most important when shopping for a heart rate monitor is to find the one that is most suited to your need and that will help you exercise better and stay motivated through your training program whether you are trying to lose a few pounds of prepare for a marathon.
I hope the following 8 tips will help you find the best heart rate monitor for you.
8 Tips to Choose the Right Heart Rate Monitor
1. Know what activities and sports you will practice.
In addition to monitoring your heart beats, most heart rate monitors on the market will come with a various set of features. Usually, extra features come with a higher price tag. Depending on the type of activity you plan to wear your monitor for, not all of these functions will be useful to you. For example, if you plan to train exclusively in a gym, a monitor with an integrated GPS unit won’t do much for you.
If you are unsure what activities you will practice, consider buying a heart rate monitor that is more limited out of the box but can be extended with extensions. These extensions (usually called PODs) can extend your monitor’s functionality for activities like biking or running. Most manufacturers have various extensions on the market, but beware! Not all heart rate monitors can be plugged to these PODs!
Establish how much you are willing to spend. As can be expected, most of the time when buying a heart rate monitor, you get what you pay for. This does not mean that if you are on a limited budget you should prevent yourself from buying one! There are still many great monitors at pretty low price and if all you are looking for is basic features such as heart rate display and zone alarms then even the most basic monitor will most likely be ok for you.
Establishing a budget before starting to shop for a monitor can also help you stick to your original plan! It is easy when faced with all those fancy gadgets to let the shiny features influence us into buying something more expensive than we intended or that has a bunch of features that we end up not really using.
3. Read and compare reviews
This one might sound obvious, but you should not base your decision simply on the score that reviewers put on various heart rate monitors. Not everyone will put the same priority on the same things and reading lots of reviews will help you better understand what are the strengths and weaknesses of different brands and models of heart rate monitors.
While the clerk at your local sports store might recommend a product, chances are he only tried one or two models of monitors (if he tried any at all!). Most sites where you can read reviews are maintained by people who exercise on a regular basis and who have tried many different monitors. This means they have a good understanding of how these tools work and how they compare to other products.
4. Ask people around you what they like and don’t like about their own heart rate monitors.
If you know people around you who use monitors, ask them what they like or don’t like about the model they use. If they had to buy one right now, would they pick the same model? The same brand? Don’t hesitate to ask even strangers you see at the gym. Most people are usually helpful, and getting such firsthand impressions from someone who uses a product regularly is sometimes worth more than any reviews you might find online.
5. If possible, try to see some monitors “in action”
If you have friends who use monitors, ask them if you could see the monitors up close and even try them out. You could also ask at your local sports store. There are things that you will know only once you have actually had the chance to see the monitor in action. Is the display easy to read for you? Is the wrist strap too short for your wrists? Is it comfortable on your wrist? Does the backlight provide sufficient lighting to your taste?
While some people might be hesitant to try out the chest strap from a borrowed heart rate monitor (they can get pretty soaked with sweat) I still strongly suggest you at least put it on. Some people have problem being comfortable with certain models of chest straps. If you find a chest strap really uncomfortable, then you might want to go with a strapless monitor even if they are less accurate.
It is really important to be as comfortable as possible when exercising and no review you read or comments you get from other people will let you know how comfortable YOU are with a particular model.
6. See what else the manufacturer provides
Most manufacturers offer at least a one year warranty and most of them now also offer some type of online diary or community site to keep track of and share your training sessions. Take time to poke around the various manufacturers website and see what more they have to offer. In some cases, you can even subscribe for free to their community site even if you don’t use their product. This will let you have a look and see if their online community is active and if you like it.
7. Shop around
You should take some time to shop around. Sometimes, depending on the model you buy, you could save a few hundred dollars just by taking the time to find the best deal. In this online age, it is easy to go online and compare the prices of your local vendors along with prices online.If you plan to buy online, don’t forget to account for shipping fees or even custom fees if your item will be shipped across borders.
8. Have fun!
Practicing sport at any level should be fun and shopping for new equipment should be part of the experience! Don’t let all the choices make you dizzy. See this as a step towards your better health or performance and try to use you’re shopping as one more tools to get motivated!
I really hope this article along with the reviews provided on this website will help you find a monitor that suits your need!