How Accurate Are Heart Rate Monitors on Exercise Machines?

Anyone who has ever worked out at a gym has probably come accross a heart rate monitor on some kind of fitness machine. Ranging from simple to seriously sophisticated, these small electronic devices help to measure your heart rate while exercising. Usually measured by means of two devices – a strap around your chest and a wrist band – a heart rate monitor provides you with a heart rate readout throughout the duration of your workout. When used correctly, heart rate monitors can be very effective in helping you obtain and maintain your fitness goals.

Why Heart Rate Monitors Are a Good Idea

There are a few different reasons that using a heart monitor makes sense. One is if someone has pre-existing heart problems like having a pacemaker. In this case, the heart rate monitor would be used to prevent against over-exertion. For people that are really into fitness, a heart rate monitor can be another helpful tool that can work to make sure they are pushing their body to capacity or pacing themselves effectively.

How Heart Rate Monitors Work

An EKG heart rate monitor consists of a chest strap that is made of small electrodes capable of monitoring the conductivity of the heart. This conductivity corellates with heartbeat and the information is then sent to the wrist monitor. Using this information, the wrist monitor also can calculate how fast the heart is beating, along with other data such as how hard your body is working and how many calories your workout is burning. The downside to this type of monitor is that is can be adversely affected by a television or computer monitor in the room, rendering them useless.

There are also heart rate monitors that do not have a chest strap, though these are less effective than those with wrist and chest measurements. However, recent developments in the technology of these strapless heart rate monitors have made them extremely effective or par with hospital level monitors by using light sensors and microchip technology. These strapless or wrist monitors are also generally much cheaper than EKG heart rate monitors, making them more widely available to the public.

There are also heart rate monitors that electrically detect a heart rate signal from a place on your hand. Generally located on handlebars or a grip of fitness equipment, these types of monitors are less sensitive and do not provide a continuous reading,  though they are easy to use and require no training.

Increasing Heart Rate Monitor Effectiveness

Studies have shown that working your body at 60% to 70% of your maximum heart rate is best for increasing endurance and burning fat, while working within the 70% to 80% of maximum heart rate range is the best for improving overall bodily conditioning and endurance.

Next time you step up to a fitness machine at the gym, strap on the heart rate monitor and begin your workout. Using this information will give you another way to help you monitor your progress and provide the motivation you need to workout in the best way for your body.


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