A wrist heart rate monitor is more than a toy for gadget freaks. Used properly, you can get more out of your average workout than you possibly could without the aid of such a device. A heart rate monitor lets you know when you need to push yourself harder or ease up on your exercise with real time feedback.
The operational design of a wrist heart rate monitor is pretty straightforward. Most models take a wireless transmission of your heart rate information from a chest strap (though some models, like the ones in the Mio watch line, have a sensor in the watch band), and compare this to the maximum heart rate prescribed for your age group. If your heart rate goes over or under a certain percentage of the prescribed heart rate (determined by entering your date of birth), the heart rate monitor watch will beep until you bring your heart rate back into the target zone. For a workout of moderate intensity, you can set the zone between 60% and 75% of your maximum heart rate, for instance.
Some of the higher end watches, like Polar F11, have even more features. Perhaps the most significant is the ability to connect the watch to a computer and transfer information recorded by the device to the Web. Most heart rate monitor (HRM) watch manufacturers have their own sites dedicated to user fitness tracking. Once you have your workout stats up on the website, you can review the effectiveness of you exercise habits and make more informed adjustments to your regimen.
Another feature of advanced watches is the ability to accept signals from coded transmitters, which prevent interference from other transmitters used by other HRM watch users. This might not seem like a critical feature, but if anyone you works out in a crowded gym, there’s a high likelihood of encountering interference. If you work out alone, you probably won’t need this feature; but the computer connectivity will still be of great value.