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Reviews and General Information on
Pedometers, Fitness Trackers and Heart Rate Monitors
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Heart Rate Monitor Chest Straps

The only way to actually know how many calories you’re burning while you’re exercising is to have a heart rate monitor that is consistently hooked up and tracking your heartbeats per minute. Without that, any suggestions of calories burned are just guesses that may not even take your BMI or weight into account.

How It Works

Heart rate monitors work because they aren’t guessing at anything. A transmitter connects directly to your chest area and sends information to the wrist tracker. All of the information is stored between the two, and then it uses what you program into the device about your height, body weight, BMI and more to come up with actual numbers for the calorie burning success of your workout.

To make the system work, the sensor has to be attached to the chest. Often, this can be accomplished with water, but sometimes a gel that makes the transmitter adhere better is required. It’s not a perfect system, and some of the sensors need reapplication after a while of being worn. For the most part, the devices stay in place fairly well. Occasionally, you will run across one that sticks without any additional liquid, and those usually are able to remain in place because they then use your sweat to continue to adhere.

Imperfect Monitor

The chestband with watchThe only real drawback in this set up is that the chest bands are not always comfortable. There are a few different ways that they can hook on to your torso that allow them to find the rhythm that they need from the cardiac system. Usually, the chest strap for a single device only hooks on one way, and if it’s not comfortable for you, it probably isn’t going to work at all. You aren’t usually able to trade them out for another chest transmitter straps that works for you. They’re proprietary to the device.

Some of the older bands were made out of stretchy rubber material or a latex-based fabric. Latex, in general, causes a problem because a lot of people are allergic to it. As one of that demographic, I can tell you that an accidental flare up right next to your skin is just not good.

Rubber materials are not very breathable, and that is not what you want when you’re generating heat and sweat all over your body. The sweat needs to be able to evaporate through your clothing. Otherwise, it’s trapped beneath a solid rubber band that goes all along your torso. That has been known to cause itching and irritation. In very sensitive skin, it can also cause a rash.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t people who do very well with the rubber-like straps that hold on the transmitters for their heart rate monitors, I’m entirely sure that they are. I would’t recommend it for someone with sensitive skin, and I don’t think that I would personally pick it over other options.

Fabric Trumps Rubber

The Polar Soft Strap BandNewer bands, especially the ones from Polar, are being made out of a light weight yet durable fabric. The fabric has the stretch, but it does not hold in moisture. The Polar FT7 for example (reviewed here), has a strap that seems to be less likely to irritate. It’s made entirely out of fabric without any latex or rubber to attach the sensor to you. You can see it here:”

There are a few devices that claim to be able to monitor your heart rate without the chest strap (the Mio Aplha for example), but the technology does not seem reliable yet. The devices claim to be able to use bright lights to shine through the wrist or finger and get a heart rate as well as a pulse oxygen level. It’s such a great solution that if the technology were there, chest straps would be a thing of the past. That doesn’t mean it won’t be there soon. It just isn’t yet.

Chest Straps Work Well For Now

Monitoring your heart rate can make a huge difference in your ability to take control of your weight loss. The chest straps aren’t perfect, but they also aren’t intolerable or terribly uncomfortable. All you have to do is decide which one makes you the most comfortable, and then get out there and do the work.

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