Do you use a heart rate monitor when you exercise? Heart rate monitors have come a long way in recent years, now integrated with GPS and training programs, and connected to smart phones. Gone are the days when you need to fiddle with the chest strap, trying to pick up a reading, and interrupting your workout. Wireless heart rate monitors that read your heart rate through the skin on your wrist have hit the market, and you now have the chance to change your workout for the better.
I have used a Crane heart rate monitor from Aldi, which was rated one of the best by Choice, for the past couple of years. It finally seems to have decided to give up the ghost and I am in the market for something new. I am tired of stopping and starting my workout to try and adjust the chest strap (and probably receiving funny looks from people in the gym while I fiddle with my shirt!). Last Christmas, I saw some new wireless heart rate monitors at Rebel Sport. Using technology similar to pulse ox used in hospitals, the watches continuously monitor your heart rate so you can get more out of your workout. Since then, a few other monitors have been released so there is now a little more choice to be had.
While I haven’t tested these monitors personally, I have researched their features, and chatted to sports store staff about their recommendations.
1. Mio Alpha Heart Rate Monitor – $249 AUD
This was the first wireless heart rate monitor to enter the market. It has been heavily tested for accuracy, and is integrated with a variety of health and fitness apps including My Fitness Pal. The watch is water resistant to 30 metres, meaning that you can use it while swimming, although this may reduce accuracy a little as the contact to your skin is effected. The simple screen displays your heart rate, the length of your exercise session, and the time. This is the first edition of this watch, meaning that there are things they would change next time, including the fact that the screen is not back lit. While this might be an issue if you run outside a lot at night, you would not notice this difference in the gym or during the day. Mio’s Go app allows you to choose a variety of places to virtually train in, with videos and images being displayed on your screen. It would certainly make that run on the treadmill a bit more interesting! The cool thing is that the images move in real time, with your heart rate dictating the pace at which you will move through the course. With 20 hours of continuous use battery life, this watch seems like a great addition to your gym bag. The Mio does not have GPS capabilities, but if this is a feature that you are not worried about then this may be the perfect watch for you, at a fantastic price. New editions have been released in various colours and strap sizes. You can purchase the Mio Alpha from all good sports stores, or online here. Mio wireless heart rate monitors without screens are also available at a cheaper price point.
The TomTom works in a very similar way to the Mio Alpha, with the added benefit of GPS technology. This is fantastic if you enjoy walking or running outdoors, as it will accurately track your distance, time, pace and calories burnt. It has a large screen so the display can be seen easily while you are exercising. Five intensity zones will help you set training goals and accurately monitor your health. The MySports website by TomTom will help you track your exercise progress both online or through an app. The watch will stay charged for 8 hours of use, and is waterproof to 50 metres but says it is not suitable for swimming. It comes in three colours, and can be purchased here, or at various sports stores.
3. adidas miCoach Smart Run – $500 AUD
The Rolls Royce of wireless heart rate monitors appears to be the adidas miCoach. It has a lot of bells and whistles including GPS, a music player and two coaching modes (training and marathon). You can purchase an additional wireless headset, which allows your virtual trainer to talk to you and encourage you along the way. Motivational messages can also be displayed on the watch’s touch screen. The display is very simple to read, making it ideal for glancing at during your training. The device has a 4GB memory which can be used for music or data storage. One of the best things about the miCoach is that it eliminates the need for any other device, and if you have wireless headphones you won’t be attached to anything bar the watch. The battery will last for eight hours in training mode, and four if you are training with music.
At this point, I think I will be tossing up between the Mio and the TomTom. I just need to decide how important the GPS feature is to me, but the price points are both quite good. With all new technology, there are going to be teething issues, but both of the companies have been making products like this for a long time and are well trusted in the market. When speaking to staff in sports stores, the recommendations have been for TomTom watches due to their advanced technology, and for the Mio due to lots of satisfied customers. It looks like I have some more research to do!
Do you have a wireless heart rate monitor? What brand do you have, and what would you recommend?