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Discussion Starter #1
We've recently had a thread about interval timers -- and the availability of that feature in Casio and Timex models.

Do any folks here use heart rate monitors while exercising? My current injury aside :-x, I'm a long time regular at the gym. I toyed with them when I first started exercising and decided they were more trouble than they were worth. I could tell, I thought, reasonably enough, by more obvious indicators (huffing and puffing, sweat, etc.) when my heart rate was "up".

I'm wondering now if a heart rate monitor might be worth a second look and if it might incentivize me to bump my fitness efforts up a notch -- both in the gym and running outdoors (if this damn hip thing ever heals).

I'm curious what you guys think. I'm also curious how any of you who use monitors think they stack up. The big players in this segment of the market (at least in the U.S.) seem to be Timex, Suunto, Polar and Garmin. I note a number of lower end monitors don't have features you think would be important to exercisers (e.g., an interval timer).

While I'm at it, have any of you tried to track your general level of activity throughout the day with a pedometer? There seems to be more talk about this sort of "incidental exercise" these days.

See, for example, this Polar watch:

Amazon.com: Mens Polar FA20 Fitness Computer: Polar: Sports & Outdoors
 

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It depends on what kind of workouts you do and how you intend to use the monitors. You need to know how to use the information that the device is giving you. It's more than "I'm at 120 BPM! I think I'm doing just good enough!" If you're doing that, then it's just another toy.

The main thing to do is first find your maximum heart rate. That's the highest and most intense your heart will beat. Then you customize your workouts based to that value.

If you're going for long duration aerobic endurance training, you'll want to try to work in between 71 and 80% of your max heart rate.
If you're going for muscular endurance, trying to improve the lactic acid tolerance, then you'll want to target 81-90% of your max heart rate.
91-99% is slugging it out like you're possessed. Straight out sprinting, pedal to the metal, balls to the wall, ignoring all pain exercising. This is the zone you're going to be in if you're interval training. If your doing this type of workout, there's honestly not much of a need for an HRM because you pretty much know if you're going full out or not.
Recovery zone is 60-70% of your maximum rate. It's critical to give your muscles a breather at key points of your workouts.

This is pretty much the basic cookie cutter explanation of using the HRM and there's certainly a lot more to it. I suggest looking at fitness forums and sites to learn how to fully utilize the device. I personally don't use one, though. I'm not much a LSD cardio guy. I'm more into conditioning and higher intensity type of workouts
 

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I have a Polar F6 which I bought a few years ago - 3-5, I can't remember exactly. It has all the basics - I didn't get into the storage and logging facilities, as I used it pretty casually while at the gym. I let the machines do the timing and programming of my workouts.

Crucially, the Polar wireless heart rate thingy communicated perfectly with the gym machines, transmitting my HR to them, letting them set the pace according to the type of program I'd selected.

I'm no gym freak, so I can't comment on the more advanced uses, but for my purposes it was perfect and reliable. Comfortable, too.
 

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I have a Garmin Forerunner 305 which I use for running and Mt Biking. I have had it just over a month and was going to post info about it here. It does not have everything that everybody may want but for me I love it. I track my distance, speed, time during my run or ride very cool. In fact I just got back from a 20.28 mile Mt Bike ride and knowing I was close to 20 miles pushed me on. It also has a heart rate monitor which I like but don't really use it during my workouts, just see how high it got on hills or sprints. I also like that it tells me how many calories I used.

What I like best about it besides the price $ 128 from Amazon, is that I check my weekly totals in the Garmin Connect Calendar. The Garmin Connect is a free site that you upload your info to. I can see how much time I spent running or walking or riding and more important my weekly miles. I know I will be out of town this weekend so I put in a longer workout today. :)

I should add I am in partial training for this Decembers Rock n Roll 1/2 Marathon in Las Vegas, the run is right down the strip and this year it will be at night with the Las Vegas strip lights showing the way |>|>
 

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I went through a spell a few years back of using HRM's for my running training. Personally i don't need one now - Perceived Effort - as a previous poster said you can judge where your heart rate is by how hard you blowing during a session !!

The usual Max HR calculation doesn't work for me (220-Age)

I took part in some physical studies on a treadmill a while back for someones university course - on a tradmill - wearing oxygen masks and have blood lactate tests taken while I was running so knew exactly where my lactate threshold was and at what HR (For me 158). The test took me right to the point of collapse on the treadmill and my HR was 10 out at that point to what the 220-age calculation gives.

SO to use a HR training zones based on the general calculations didn't really work for me.

If your blowing - you getting fitter !! LOL

Mark
 

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What you don't know, won't hurt you... Is that your line of thinking?
Annual monitoring when my medication is reviewed is quite enough. The rest of the year I am entirely incurious and live my life with the abandon of a young horse let out into a spring field. ;-)
 

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What you don't know, won't hurt you... Is that your line of thinking?
I will be 67 years old next year and when Social Security became law the average life expectancy was 62.

I was a runner, 10K every day with a pace of a mile every eight minutes, had a body fat of 6% and my pulse dropped below 90 within 5 minutes.

At the age of 55 I developed a bad back and now have three bad discs. While I am still fit I have only 8 to 10 hour of vertical time before my height drops 1 ¼ inches and leg spasm are quite near.

So monitoring my heart rate is rather a mute point; I am a vegan eater and my weight and waist is still the same as when I was 18.;-)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I don't really need it -- but I may ultimately venture into the HRM world again. Perhaps it will incentivize me to bump my workouts up a notch.
 

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For fitness, I have a Garmin, a GymBoss, and a G-Shock. The Garmin is great for running/riding. I use the HRM feature sometimes. It is great when you're in a race and trying to push without burning out. Sometimes pace is a good indicator, but on a hilly race, adjusting your pace based on heart rate can help. The GymBoss is good for interval training and the G-shock has countdown and regular stopwatches. I have used the Garmin in the gym as a simple HRM just to see how high my HR goes during a metcon workout. But, once you push yourself, you can feel the limits in ways other than breathing. I get a numb feeling in my shoulders when I'm at a pace for something that won't be sustainable for long.
I wish Casio would include the features of the "Timer" watch (interval timers with vibration) into a solar/atomic and black 5600 or 6900 that I can daily wear. Then the GymBoss can go away (which it does anyway about once a year). There is a demand for a watch like that in the 'fit community.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Well, I'll try this. No HRM -- but some sort of accelerometer type gizmo is supposed to measure when you're active and when you're not. More or less a wrist mounted pedometer....

A time, like now, when I'm injured is probably not the best time to sample how "active" I am generally. Still, it will be interesting to see:

 
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