Are you into exercise? Did you know that the most important measurement you need while exercising is your heart rate? It’s true, because for the most benefit possible your heart should be beating in a range between 90 and 160 beats per minute while you exercise, depending upon your age.
To make sure you’re getting the most out of your physical activity, you need to know your heart rate, so to measure that you need a heart rate monitor. There are plenty of heart rate monitors for sale, but which ones are the best?
After hours of research, I have identified several of the best ones, and also what you should look for when shopping for your new heart rate monitor. If you’re in the market for a new heart rate monitor, read on because there’s plenty of information here that will help you with your new purchase. Let’s begin:
Table of Contents
There are five main considerations you should take into account when shopping for your new heart rate monitor. Here they are in no particular order:
Heart rate monitors are typically worn in one of two places. They either mount on your wrist as a watch, or they use a chest strap to monitor your heartbeat.
While wrist mounted monitors tend to be a little inaccurate, they are definitely more comfortable and convenient to use. If you want the most accurate heart rate data, you’ll need the chest strap, but they can be a pain to use sometimes. Figure out which style best suits your needs.
We know you want to keep track of your heart rate data, but what other data does the device keep track of? Common data from fitness devices include steps, distance, calories burned, sleep patterns, and goal progress.
Identify which data is important to you, and make sure your new heart rate monitor tracks it. Some people like as much information as they can get, while others like to keep it simple. Know yourself and get a monitor that matches your needs.
Most modern fitness devices have at least a minimum amount of connectivity. They are usually linked to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth to transmit and share your exercise data, and they can also be used as an extension of your device.
For example, texts, caller ID, and emails can sometimes be reviewed on your device while you’re exercising. Look for an advanced app for your smartphone that allows you to sync your device to keep track of your progress towards your fitness goals. Connectivity is an important feature to have with any new heart rate monitor.
I found out during my research that products can look really great on the internet, but when you get them it’s a different story. That’s where great shopping sites like Amazon can be a great help.
Below the products are usually extensive customer review sections where you can read what real people who have purchased and used the product say about it.
You can quickly gauge whether the reviews are generally positive or negative, which tells you a lot about it. Read some of the top positive reviews, and then review the most negative ones.
You can tell if people had real issues with quality, performance, or customer service. Let the experiences of others help guide your decision.
All buying decisions are influenced at least to some degree by price. My advice is to set a budget before you look at any products.
Figure out what you are willing to spend at the maximum, and stick to it. Setting a reasonable purchase price amount ahead of time can help stop you from making an expensive impulse purchase, plus it helps you weed out the products that are out of your price range very quickly.
Fitbit is one of the most popular names in fitness devices today, and their Surge Fitness Superwatch is a fantastic product that provides heart rate data from your wrist. Here are a few of its best features:
The Fitbit Surge doesn’t just count your steps. This fitness watch is a full on GPS tracker. At the end of your hike, walk, ride, or run, you can see the distance covered, your speed, elevation changes, and review your route.
You can also share the GPS data with others to start a little friendly challenge for motivation! Using GPS technology, your data will be accurate to within six inches.
The Fitbit Surge supplies accurate heart rate data right from your wrist into the watch. Your current pulse rate is displayed in easy to read large numbers next to a heart, and the simplified heart rate zones let you know when you’re in the best range for you. Getting heart rate data from your wrist is the most comfortable way available.
After each workout or at the end of the day, you can view your accomplishments with convenient summaries. The Surge will keep track of your steps taken, distance you’ve covered, how many calories you burned, how many floors you climbed, and how many minutes you were active throughout the day. The Surge is much more than a heart rate monitor, it’s a complete fitness computer.
Ever wonder why you’re feeling tired in the morning? Well maybe you’re not sleeping as well as you think you are. The Surge fitness watch monitors your sleep, so you can see exactly what your patterns are. Find out how much quality sleep you’re really getting, and wake up silently in the morning with a silent vibrating alarm on your wrist.
You can sync the Surge to your computer, tablet, or smartphone to really unlock all of its features. Music control, call and text notifications, and progress towards your fitness goals can all be used when you link your Surge with your phone.
If your Surge is in Bluetooth range of your phone, it will automatically sync at least once a day to download the data to the app.
The Fitbit Surge Fitness Superwatch is a great fitness device. In addition to heart rate, it tracks virtually everything you do during a day, including your sleep patterns. While there are newer models with more features on the market, this fitness watch remains a great value. I have no problem recommending this fitness tracker.
You won’t have that problem with the Timex Personal Trainer watch. It has Timex’s world famous Indiglo night lighting, so you can use this watch and see it anytime. When you use the lighting, the black information stands out against the blue background so you can easily read it.
Your heart rate data is supplied by a chest strap here. In addition to the watch you get Timex’s Flex Tech HRM Sensor which mounts over your heart with a handy adjustable strap.
Data is transmitted directly to your watch via Bluetooth, so you can see exactly what your heart is doing while you exercise. The watch displays your target heart rate zone, your current heart rate, and your total time inside the target zone.
In addition to the heart rate data, this fitness watch will track how many calories you burn each day, as well as display the percentage of your maximum heart output you use. Track your calories burned to adjust your diet to your goals.
The Automatic Activity Timer keeps track of your activity level throughout the day, and is triggered each time your heart rate spikes. This watch also has a timer that keeps track of your recovery time after exercise, which is a good indicator of overall fitness level. Track your total activity time each day and watch your recovery times drop as you get in shape.
An important feature for any fitness watch is water resistance. Rain or shine, people have to get their exercise in, and many of us like to swim or shower with our watch on. While the chest strap isn’t water resistant, the Timex watch is rated to a depth of 99 feet, or 30 meters. That’s deeper than you’ll ever get in the water, so shower and swim to your heart’s content.
This heart rate monitor is an affordable option for everyday use. It’s not very fancy, but it does the job as long as you wear it when you’re dry. There are no advanced features like syncing with your phone or an app. For a basic unit that you don’t have to spend a ton of money on, this is a great choice.
The data is displayed in large numerals on the face of the watch so you can see it clearly while exercising, so the Polar watch can give you continuous guidance. If you want accurate data, you need a chest strap. If you need a chest strap, you want a comfortable one, and that’s what you get here.
What are you accomplishing with your level of activity? Whether you’re walking or pumping iron, Polar’s Energy Pointer feature lets you know how you’re doing. With a quick glance, you can see whether your current exercise is fitness improvement or burning fat off your body. This way, you can match your level of exercise with your current goals.
Polar uses the accurate heart rate data gathered by the chest strap to provide additional valuable information. Your heart rate can be used to determine the number of calories you burn each day, and Polar calls this feature their Smart Calorie counter. Accurate heart rate data gives you accurate calorie data that you can count on.
Depending on the equipment that’s available in your gym, you may be able to link your Polar fitness watch to the exercise machines.
Using the Gym Link feature, you can use your Polar watch to feed current data directly into your gym machine, which gives you real-time data on the equipment’s heads up display. This way, you can use the electronics on the gym machines to their full advantage, and you won’t have to keep glancing at your Polar watch.
Like all watches, water resistance is an important feature. The Polar FT7 has a water resistance rating up to 30 meters, or 99 feet deep. That’s deep enough that you can shower, bathe, or swim with this fitness watch on and not have to worry. Just remember that you’re not going to get any heart rate data while you’re getting wet.
If you’re looking for a heart rate monitor that uses a chest strap, the Polar FT7 watch/strap combo is a nice choice. The features are pretty basic, but users report that it does the job pretty well. Don’t plan on using this with your phone, it’s just a basic fitness watch with a pretty decent price tag.
Rather than requiring you to recharge the Vivofit every day or so, they gave it a powerful lithium ion battery that will last you for over a year with daily use. That means that you can keep your Vivofit on all day and night if you want for up to a year, without the hassle of plugging it in to recharge.
The Vivofit band gives you all the data you need to keep up with your fitness goals. It tracks your heart rate with the included chest strap monitor, the steps you take, calories burned, distance covered, and your sleep patterns. Garmin’s Vivofit has everything the competition has, and then some.
One of the best features with Garmin’s Vivofit bands is the ability to purchase colorful aftermarket bands. You can change the color of your Vivofit any time you want, for a small price. You’re not stuck with a black fitness band when you choose Vivofit, because you can change its color at will.
Garmin knows that water resistance is important on all of their electronics, and the Vivofit band is no exception. This fitness tracker is water resistant to a depth of 50 meters, or 164 feet deep. You can wear the Vivofit until it’s time to change the batteries if you want to. Swim or shower with the Vivofit, because it can take it.
To go with their fitness bands, Garmin developed a great app to help you reach your fitness goals. It’s called Garmin Connect, and you can download it to your tablet or smartphone to sync with your Vivofit using Bluetooth.
See a total picture of your fitness program, set and meet goals, or develop some competition with other users on the Garmin Connect app. It will keep you motivated.
The Vivofit band from Garmin is a worthy competitor to the Fitbit brand. Despite the lack of a light for night use, this fitness tracker has all of the features you get with a Fitbit, plus better durability and better customer service. If you want a good quality fitness watch with accurate heart rate data, this combo from Garmin is a good choice.
This fitness watch from Mio gathers its heart rate data using only your pulse in your wrist, so you don’t need to wear an uncomfortable chest strap.
The Mio Alpha watch is compatible with all Bluetooth 4.0 devices. That means you can sync it to your tablet, computer, or smartphone to transfer the data it gathers to the Mio PAI app, or your favorite fitness app.
You can use these apps to track your total progress towards your fitness goals, and to keep yourself motivated.
The Mio Alpha uses your pulse to provide accurate heart rate data, so you don’t have to wear any bulky, uncomfortable straps. The advanced technology found in the Mio watch gives you EKG quality heart rate data, even during the most rigorous activities. Quality heart rate data with comfort is what this fitness watch is all about.
Flexibility is nice to have with any workout equipment. That’s why the Mio fitness watch is a great tool for everyone. It’s been designed for use just about anywhere and doing any activity. Whether you’re hiking, jogging, biking, swimming, or working, this watch can handle it. It’s engineered to withstand intense use and abuse.
The battery technology used in the Mio watch is a rechargeable lithium ion battery. With the heart rate monitor on, this battery will last 20+ hours before it needs a recharge. With the unit in watch mode, the battery will last for several months. An included USB charging cord simply plugs into the watch for regular charging.
Mio makes the Alpha in three different finishes so you can choose the one you like the best. You can have black on black, white on black, or indigo on black. This fitness watch not only performs well, it looks great too.
This product is one of only two decent wrist-only heart rate devices currently on the market. While most people prefer the convenience of wrist-only fitness watches, the technology is still behind. If data that’s +- 5 BPM is okay with you, this is a great product.
If you’re looking for the best heart rate monitor available for sale on the internet today, all five of the products listed above are solid choices. To determine which one is right for you, you need to figure out if you’re willing to accept wearing a chest strap, and how accurate your data needs to be.
If you’re already using a fitness app, you should choose a monitor that’s compatible with it and that can be synced to your mobile device. Out of all five of these heart rate monitors, my personal champion is the Fitbit Surge Fitness Superwatch.
It features wrist-based heart rate so you don’t have to wear a chest strap, plus it has all of the best features that people want in a fitness device, including the ability to display text and call notifications and to control the music on your phone remotely. The Surge may cost you more to get, but it’s well worth it for what you get. Good luck!
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A passionate blogger! Editor at Chooserly, and a regular author at HuffingtonPost, LifeHacker & Forbes!