GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Heart rate monitors are popular workout accessories and while not necessary for everyone, it is a great tool for those who:

  • need to stay in a specific heart rate zone due to a medical condition;
  • are competitive athletes and use it for effective zone training, or;
  • are fitness enthusiasts who thrive on and are motivated by feedback.

Most Heat Rate Monitors come with a chest strap that wirelessly transmits to the wristwatch. (There are strapless monitors but in my opinion, not as accurate. A hear rate monitor (HRM) is basically a high tech gadget that does lots of technical stuff.

So how do you pick the right one? Well that depends on what you will use it for. Do you just want to get active? Improve fitness? Maximize performance?

Here are a few websitesfitness expertChris Freytagsuggests checking out for learning about and purchasing heart rate products. Probably the best recognized brand and for a good reason -they sell quality product. They make it easy on their website to determine which HRM is right for you with their product finder area which asks you questions about how you will use it. They offer everything from the most basic watch to the most technical watch. They have watches that specialize in cycling, triathlons, running, etc. The cool thing about their website is you can compare products and features and make sure you are paying only for the features you would use. My HRM is from their fitness line. I have the FT40 and it does what I need it to do - measures my zones, calories burned and tracks my workouts over the course of a week. When it comes to GPS, Garmin is the king. They offer watches that measure heart rate, elevation, distance and even your golf swing. Known for their mapping capabilities, they have an array of HRM's. Again, they have a user friendly website that lets you compare devices and figure out which features are important to you. This Motorola product is getting lots of attention lately in the fitness world. It seriously covers GPS and heart rate; can play music; connects to wifi; and measures your pace, distance, speed and elevation. For Golfers, the GPS gives you precise distances to the front, back and center of the green as well as hazards. My husband is all about his golf game and he has this watch.

iTunesApp:If you just want to check your heart rate randomly... maybe when you wake up to get your resting heart rate; during exercise or while sitting at your desk, check out this free app. Instant Heart Rate app allows you to place your index finger under the camera flash light and it reads your heart rate within a few seconds. Great for getting a handle on your heart rate every so often and it's free.