In my quest to be more accurate with my food and fitness I’ve been investing in some new toys related directly to fitness. Recently I got an amazing deal on a pair of Bowflex Adjustable Dumbbells (which I friggin’ adore, btw) and after years of guesstimating my burn during my kettlebell workouts I decided it was time to invest in a heart rate monitor for a more accurate CICO (calories in, calories out) number. (NOTE: I was not asked to provide this review by anyone nor was I compensated, I’m just really, really happy with my purchase.)
Polar is a highly recommended brand, renowned for its accuracy, so I started looking there. I knew I wanted a heart rate monitor that didn’t have to be attached to a watch, because a) I hate wearing stuff on my wrists, and b) a watch would get in the way of some of my kettlebell moves. I was pleased to find the Polar H7 Bluetooth Heart Rate Sensor & Fitness Tracker. It connects through Bluetooth technology to an app on my cell phone (I have a Samsung Galaxy S5 but it will work with Android or iPhone).
The chest strap (I ordered the large) arrived and required hardly any assembly: I just had to snap the monitor to the chest strap using two metal snaps and it was ready to go! The strap itself is easy to adjust, although mine fit perfectly right out of the box. The only thing left for me to do was to download the Polar Beat app and connect the H7 to the app via Bluetooth. It was easy to find in the GooglePlay Store, and it was quickly downloaded and an account created. You’re asked a few simple questions like age, sex, height, weight and frequency of workouts, and BOOM, you’re ready to go! Once the chest strap was put on (it’s an elongated hook and eye clasp which is very easy to put on and stays snug) and the electrodes dampened, the app picked it up right away without any trouble at all.
I took some time to explore the app: there are dozens of activities you can track, some which use GPS connectivity (like running or cycling) and some that don’t (like strength and circuit training). I’ve used the app five times so far, twice for walking, once for a ladder-style kettlebell workout, once for Fitness Blender’s Tabata Kettlebell Workout and Abs and Obliques Workout – 45 Minute Kettlebell Training and once for Fitness Blender’s At Home Butt and Thigh Workout – Booty Sculpting Lower Body Strength Training. It worked great every time, as long as I made sure to wet the strap enough.
The Polar Beat App gives you tons of data. You can see your heart rate real time, the spikes and valleys, your total calorie burn, what zone your heart rate is in, your duration, your max heart rate, your average heart rate, and the % of your calorie burn that was in the fat burning zone. You can even enter notes about your workout and click an emoticon that describes how you feel.
I learned two very important things from just this short usage time: I don’t burn as many calories as I thought I did and my heart rate drops rapidly once intensity is lessened. The former is disappointing, but the latter is a GOOD thing:the faster your heart rate drops after the cessation of working out, the healthier your cardiovascular system is.
Not only can you track things on the Polar Beat App, Polar also gives you free access to Polar Flow, a much more detailed way to look at the big picture of your workouts. This is amazing to me! All of this data, this amazing, incredible data, available to me from a heart rate monitor that cost me less than $60. I’m seriously impressed so far, and I can’t wait to fill in my month with workouts! (I’m squeeing in my pants a little, people.)
GLORIOUS DATA! I can see my heart rate in FIVE SECOND INCREMENTS! It’s insanity! What an amazing incentive to sweat!
See? Do you own/use/love a heart rate monitor? Do you know any fun tricks I can use to explore my data? Tee hee, I’m such a nerd for this stuff! Let me know in the comments!