Heart Monitor, Getting Enough from Your Workout

March 4, 2009 6:41:18 PM PST
All the hours you spend on a treadmill, a bike or jogging around the block could be to waste if you don't keep track of your heart-rate.Terry Voltaggio says she uses a heart monitor whenever she exercises to make sure she's getting enough of a workout to strengthen her heart.

Terry Voltaggio said, "My goal is to be between 140 beats per minute and 150 beats per minute. So when I look down and I'm at 120, I know it's time to ramp it up a little."

Voltaggio's monitor has a chest strap that continuously sends her heart-rate reading to a special watch receiver on her wrist. Consumer Reports tested eight heart-rate monitors while panelists exercised on a recumbent bike.

Consumer Reports Marc McEntee said, "We compared the accuracy of our tested models against the Holter monitor, which is similar to what your doctor uses to measure your heart activity."

Besides chest-strap monitors, the tests included strapless types that measure the pulse in the finger. One from lifespan is worn as a ring, but it was not always accurate. With the other strapless monitors, you touch the watch face to get your reading. Although they were accurate, they have other drawbacks.

Linda Greene said, "In order to read it, I really had to slow down while exercising."

"We don't recommend the strapless heart-rate monitors for cyclists because you have to use two hands to get a reading. And that's just not safe," said McEntee.

The chest-strap units let you exercise freely and safely. Two that cost around 50 dollars earned top ratings. They're the Acumen Eon Basix Plus and the Timex Heart Rate Monitor, Model Number 5G971. Terry has used her monitor for two years and says it's key to helping her keep her weight where she wants it.

Consumer Reports recommends monitors which have alarms you can set to tell whether you have met your targeted heart rate.

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