If you are serious about aerobic exercise–whether it’s walking, hiking, running, cycling, field sports, skiing, or something else–you ought to have a heart rate monitor. And the best heart rate monitors are made in Finland by Polar. I bought my first one more than 20 years ago, and while I haven’t been seriously exercising all that time, when I am serious I’m never without a HRM. Why? Because in order to meet your fitness/weight loss goals you need to exercise at the proper intensity. Your heart rate is the best was to determine how are you are working. And a wireless heart rate monitor is the only way to continuously monitor your heart rate.Whole books have been written about heart rate training, so I won’t explain it in detail, except to say that staying in your “target zone” provides the greatest value for time spent training.
Polar has heart rate monitors for a variety of sports and starting at less than $60. Of course, the more you spend, the more features you get. My first monitor was $349 in 1985 dollars and had fewer features than today’s $100 monitor.This Christmas–having ruled out the Garmin Edge 305–what I’d like to find under the tree is a Polar S725 (right), a cycling-oriented HRM that also measures speed and pedal RPM, not to mention altitude, climbs, and temperature, all of which are stored for downloading and analysis.
Of course, this sophistication doesn’t come cheap: MSRP is $350.Or maybe I’d rather have the new CS200cad (left), part of a family of bike-mount HRMs that start at about $150. This is a very convenient device, but not as fully-featured as the S725.I’ve given Polar monitors in the past as gifts and in the past have tended to have an extra one around the house to loan friends. New users are always amazed that “how they feel” about their exertion level or how tired they feel, often doesn’t match what their heart rate tells them.You may be wondering how accurate these monitors are. Polar advertises them as ECG-accurate and, yes, I’ve tested them and have found Polar monitors to always be within a beat or two of the high-dollar medical gear.If you’re at all serious about fitness, a heart rate monitor should be your training partner. And Polar, in my experience, makes the best.