Got Heart?

Find out how well your ticker’s pumpin’ with one of these high tech monitors.

No facet of life has escaped the demand for detailed information, including that of physical exercise. It is no longer desirable just to throw on some comfortable old clothes, move around, and sweat to get the heart pumping and calories burning. Did I move around enough to compensate for that piece of chocolate cake? How fast was my heart beating? Did I burn extra calories so that I can have ice cream with that extra piece of cake?

C’mon! If I’m gonna pull myself away from that PlayStation, the Internet, or TiVO’d show to exercise, I want to know that it is worth my while. What do I earn for getting sweaty and stinky?

Have no fear! The heart rate monitor is here!

 

The monitor counts the number of times your heart beats in one minute, which is your “heart rate.” Your heart rate is an indicator of how hard your body is working to burn stored energy (aka calories). Many folks strive to work in their target heart rate zone, which is the range of the minimum to maximum heart rate reached during aerobic exercise. This target zone enables the heart and lungs to receive the most benefit from a workout and is a theoretical range that varies based on one’s physical condition, age, and previous training.

A rubber belt called a telemetry strap is worn around the chest to collect the beats per minute data, which is then output to a wristwatch device. Using the data collected by the telemetry strap, as well as data manually entered by the wearer, a whole host of personal fitness data can be calculated and presented on the wrist device.

 

Heart rate monitors vary in sophistication. For basic fitness data, the Timex 5C351 Digital Heart Rate Monitor, (www. timex.com/features/feature_e50.html, $70.00) stores your target heart rate, calculates your average heart rate, and tracks the time you spend in your target zone. For those who are smaller in stature, the Acumen EON Basix Plus ES WP for Women (www.thatshealthy.com, $58.95) provides basic fitness data via a transmitter belt and wristwatch proportioned for the smaller physique. In addition to basic fitness data, the Polar F4 (www.polar-heartrate-monitors.com, $79.95) contains the OwnCal feature that shows your energy expenditure during one exercise session as well as accumulated sessions.

Wearing a telemetry strap can be uncomfortable or ineffective for some body types. The Reebok Strapless Fit Watch, (www.healthchecksystems.com /cardioreebok.htm#strapless, $75.00) offers basic fitness data without using a telemetry strap. Sensors on the wristwatch device are activated to collect heart rate data.

 

If visual displays do not motivate you, what about a talking heart rate monitor? No, this will not nag you like a cranky spouse. The Oregon Scientific AH310E (www2.oregon scientific.com, $49.95) offers personalized basic fitness workout data via voice prompts through the headphones. Even the set-up instructions are outputted verbally.

Fitness enthusiasts who choose to spend PlayStation, Internet, or TiVo time training for triathlons enjoy a wider variety of heart rate monitors. The Polar s720i (www.polar-heartratemonitors. com, $289.95) comes with precision performance software that allows you to download (via an IR port on your computer) captured fitness data from your heart rate monitor wristwatch device to your personal computer. (If your computer does not have an IR port, you have to purchase it separately). The Polar s720i also captures average heart rates per lap and cycling variables such as current speed, average speed, maximum speed, altitude, altitude climbed, and distance. Once the personal fitness data is downloaded, a multitude of spreadsheets and graphs can be generated to study for fitness fine-tuning, or, well heck, this level of fitness dedication deserves recognition— print it out and send it in your holiday newsletter.

 

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