Heart Rate Monitors to Help You Make the Most of Your Workouts

Knowing how hard you’re working can help you meet your exercise goals.

Do you know how hard you’re actually working out? Sure you might feel like you can’t possibly do one more rep, one more metre, one more stroke, but that’s your mind talking. What does your body say? If you want to know that, you may need a heart rate monitor. Here’s how to choose one that will work for you.

Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor
High levels of accuracy, and great connectivity to major third party apps and smart watches.POLAR

Chest straps are the choice of most high performance sports people for measuring heart rate because of their accuracy. Using electrodes gives immediate and precise readings, but the drawback is that you have to have another bit of kit on which to read the data that the strap is pulling, whether that’s a sports watch, or an app. It’s worth checking before you buy that the strap you’re buying will connect to the kit you already have as some will only work with sports watches of the same brand. Others connect easily with a range of different branded watches and integrate into many fitness apps too.

TEMINICE Exercise Watch with Heart Rate and Sleep Monitor
A do-it-all heart rate monitor with GPS to track your walking or jogging route.TEMINICE

There’s a bit of debate about the best, and most accurate, way to measure your heart rate when you’re on the go. There’s quite a bit of research that suggests that some wrist-worn heart rate monitors might not be quite as accurate as a chest strap as they use an optical sensor, rather than the electrodes you find in a chest strap. The advantage of having a heart rate monitor on your wrist is that it can serve many purposes — a heart monitor watch doesn’t just monitor your heart rate but many can also log your workouts, receive notifications from your phone, and even give you reminders to get up and move if you’ve been sitting still for too long.

Polar OH1 Waterproof Optical Heart Rate Sensor with Swimming Goggle Strap Clip and Armband
Pairs with a range of watches and apps, and can store up to 200 hours of training.POLAR

While previously your only options were a watch-style monitor or a chest strap, there’s now a third possibility — the armband, which is said to offer similar levels of accuracy to a chest strap, but without some of the inconveniences that can be associated with wearing a chest strap. Some users find some chest straps can chafe if worn for long periods of time, while others find it difficult to keep them in place when swimming without a wetsuit or rash vest to keep them in place. That’s where an arm band can be useful. Some models even have detachable sensors that can be clipped onto swimming goggles and take readings from the temple instead.