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Review: Heart Rate Monitor Watches

Mar 06, 2014 02:01PM ● By Erin Frisch

Monitoring your heart rate ensures that your exercise reaches your target heart rate without exceeding it. The purpose of heart rate monitors is to make sure the change in your heart rate is sufficient for you to stay healthy. A heart rate monitor watch is ideal because it is easy to remember as part of a schedule and has multiple purposes. These watches can accurately take your pulse as you go, something that is less reliable on a smartphone or other mobile device.

Considerations, below, details what you should look for as you research watches. Then in Reviews, we cover the three highest-rated heart rate monitor watches and the reasons for their ranking.


Number of programmable target zones. The more target zones you can program into your watch, the less time you will have to spend changing it. If you have only one zone, you will have to change the target heart rate every time you exercise, but with four different zones, you can program targets for different types of endurance, anaerobic, or aerobic workouts.

Target zone and recovery. Most watches will allow you to track how long you spent in the target heart rate zone. You should also be aware of how long it takes your heart rate to return to normal, so make sure your watch is capable of monitoring more than just exercise heart rate.

Additional tracking. Some watches calculate how many calories you’ve burned, your maximum and average speed, and the distance of your work out.

Additional features. You’ll expect a watch to at least tell time and monitor your heart, but if you want to use it for certain sports, you might want it to have a stopwatch too. To track your exercise, you can also find some with calendars. Some of the more advanced watches allow you to track laps so that you can review your speed for each lap around a track.

Computer capability. Being able to upload your workout data into a computer makes it easier to track your progress over time.

Battery life. Some heart rate monitor watches use regular batteries, but many require special batteries. If you are considering a model that requires special batteries, you will want to be sure the one you choose offers a long battery life.


Polar RS100

This monitor can be attached to a watch or chest strap, giving you more options. It monitors a wide range of rates, from 15 to 240 beats a minute. You can get a real-time account of your heart rate by simply putting the device near your chest as you move. The backlight lets you work out on your schedule, and an alarm helps you stay on it. The one thing missing is GPS, so you will not be able to track your distance. The battery life is two years, as is the warranty. $110.00.

Garmin Forerunner 110

As expected, Garmin includes a GPS so that you can easily track your distance. With Garmin Connect, you can manage and monitor your exercise. The battery is rechargeable, as well as letting you track roughly 180 hours of exercise. It is not waterproof, and not all models have a chest strap option. $117.00-$134.00.

Soleus GPS 3.0

Clearly this one tracks your workout distance, but it costs less than the Garmin and the Polar RS100 100. By entering your metrics (age, height, and weight), the watch provides one of the most accurate rates for heart rate monitor watches. The battery is rechargeable. You can also upload your exercise data to your computer. $134-$169.00.

Would you use a Fitness Watch to help you with your workout?


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