May 08, 2007

Heart Rate Monitors: Worth Getting One?


Okay, I suppose we could discuss it a bit more than that.

As readers may recall, Crabby doesn't automatically endorse every health or fitness related gadget that comes to her attention. She lusts after them, but doesn't always spend actual money to get them herself. She didn't urge you to run out and buy that RESPeRATE thingy, right, 'cause it cost three hundred bucks?

But if you're trying to get regular cardio exercise, and you know your target heart rate zone (and if you don't, go here), then a heart rate monitor is a really convenient way to stay in the right range. And they're not expensive either, if you shop around and settle for the most basic model.

Crabby loves the low-end Polar monitor, which does absolutely nothing except measure your heart rate. Because it has so few functions, the digits on the wrist band are actually big enough to read. (Not true of the fancier models). Doing some comparision shopping on-line, she bought it a couple of years ago for less that $40, U.S. (As though Crabby would be suddenly quoting prices in yen. But she wants to remain sensitive to her most-valued international readers).

For most models, you do have to wear a chest strap. Crabby didn't buy a monitor for years because of the chest strap, assuming it would be terribly uncomfortable. But it's really not bad at all.

Especially for non-runners, a heart rate monitor can ensure your "brisk walk" is really brisk enough to be aerobic. Often you're doing more than you think you are. But if it turns out you're not, at least you'll know it. You can either step it up, or just embrace your slackitude. Either way.

One caution, however: neither the monitors nor the "target zones" are a hundred percent accurate. For example, when Crabby gets going with good music, charging up a big hill, the heart rate monitor claims she is actually exceeding her maximum possible heart rate (not merely her target zone) and should be in full-on cardiac arrest. Crabby, being foolish, just ignores the scary number because she's been doing the same thing for years and figures the number must just be wrong. She hasn't died yet.

Don't you do that though. It's dumb . If the number gets too high, slow the f*ck down.


  1. I have a heart rate monitor too and I love it but, for some reason, it will give me goofy readings too. I take cycling and it happens in the cycling room allot. If it gets really wacky, I think that it might be interfering with something. Maybe it is the bees, who knows. Sometimes it says I am way over 200 and other times 00, I am dead. Wouldn't live without it though!
    Crabby, you really have some fantastic info on you blog!!!

  2. Gotta say I love the monitor. It just makes me feel so damn productive and busy! Wow, I have a big number!Look at me go! Unlike you and Samantha, I haven't died yet according to my monitor, but I may be reptilian.

  3. "...slow the f*ck down. "

    Best health advice ever!

  4. I would like to see one that shoots like a mild taser into you when you are going to slow, and has messages like: HEART ATTACK IN TEN SECONDS followed by a mild electrical shock.

    If you can't figure out that your heart is beating fast without a monitor, then you are going too slow.

  5. Good morning!
    So Samantha, I'm embarrassed to say I don't even mean the more obviously false readings you get when there's interference (which is one problem with having a cheaper monitor, you get that more often). No, i watch my number steadily climb til the monitor claims I'm dead. I think they're a little off with that 220 minus age formula once you get a bit older. (And thanks for the compliment, but most of the fantastic info comes from you guys, not me!)

    Hi Anonymous! Yes, a heart rate monitor does make one feel way more acknowledged than just huffing and puffing a lot. It's a number, and its big! (For those who are bloggers more than exercisers and want to translate, think "stat counter" or "site meter.") And thanks so much, anonymous, for stopping by! Please come often and hang out with us. Crabs are very fond of reptiles!

    Leah, you always crack me up! Maybe i should make that a new subtitle for the blog.

    Hi Spider!
    I love your ideas for a more interactive monitor. But you superheroes do tend to get awfully macho about the exercise intensity issue. Some of us do actually have to look sometimes to see if we're going fast enough!
    Thanks so much for stopping by, I'll have to see what's up over in your neck of the woods.

  6. Heart rate monitor, yawn, yawn, mumbling on, exercise, work outs, sweat, more heart rate montior guff.

    A heart rate monitor is like a Stat counter!

    Why didn't you say so. I want one! I want one!

  7. Please, Dawn, when your novel* hits the best seller lists, don't leave us boring healthy-eating exercise freaks alone to our own devices. We need you here or we'll bury ourselves in heart rate monitor minutia and no one will want to hang out with us.

    We'll have big crates of apple filled cream donuts delivered to your brand new mansion, promise.

    *Dawn Rotarangi is author of Ripples on the Lake, (just in case google sends its little spies all the way down to obscure comments in obscure blogs)

  8. Crabby, you are just the sweetest little crab on the block!

    (Pushed preview)

    Oh my dog! It's there! I've just been wondering what button I still needed to push to make my profile appear. You are the first person in the universe to have it in your comments, Crabby.

    In case anyone is thinking what a gorgeous creature I am, I have to point out that's the book cover - I'm approximately one hundred and thirty years older than the blonde!

  9. Dawn, I feel so honored to host the debut of your handsome new avatar on my humble blog!

    And if you're approximately 130 yrs older than the blonde, then screw the heart rate monitor, I'm going on a cream filled apple donut diet immediately.


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