Top 7 Heart Rate Monitors for Everyday Use

Updated on September 12, 2017
strapless type heart rate monitor
strapless type heart rate monitor | Source

What Is a Heart Rate Monitor?

Heart rate monitors (HRM) are used to measure how intensely you are exercising by measuring heartbeats per minute. There are two types of heart rate monitors, chest strap and wrist watch (strapless), the latter being the most common.

The objective may vary, but anyone including rRunners, cyclists, hikers, skiers, weight loss participants, and heart patients can make use of a heart rate monitor. HRMs can be used with fitness trackers to monitor your heart rate along with daily activity. Cardio patients find it very useful for staying in the safe zone 24x7.

Chest Strap Type Vs Strapless Wrist Watch Type

Chest Strap Type
Offer continuous heart rate information without needing to stop during exercise to measure it.
Costlier than strapless models
More accurate
Clumsy and less comfortable
Strapless Type
Comfortable and simple
Less accurate
You may need to stop and look measurements during exercise
No option for integrated speed and distance monitoring.

Why Use a Heart Rate Monitor?

Regular and correct aerobic exercise is important to make your heart stronger and healthier. You can monitor and reduce resting heart rate to stay fit.

An HRM is like a coach that comes along for every workout. It monitors your heartbeats providing you exact, real-time information about how your heart is responding to the exercise. It ensures that you train at an appropriate intensity.

Depending upon your fitness goals, your workout frequency, duration and intensity will vary. An HRM helps to stabilize and monitor intensity. It is easy to use, relatively cheap, and can be used in any situation. These features make HRMs very popular.

In short, HRM can be used,

  • to avoid injury or over-exercise,
  • to hit specific fitness goals,
  • to work out at right intensity,
  • to monitor heartbeats for heart patients,
  • to know how healthy you are.

Top 7 Heart Rate Monitors for Everyday Use

1. Polar FT60: Best Heart Rate Monitor

Our top pick and the best heart rate monitor so far is the Polar FT60. As you can see, the Polar FT60 belongs to the well-known FT series, which are mainly used for general fitness. This one here is great for general cardio workouts and other exercises in gym.

The watch is powered by CR2032 battery which lasts for one year without any complications. The battery is easily replaceable too. Polar FT60 is fairly thin, fits for almost everyone, and has a lot of features for the money. Maximum and average heart rate are displayed at the end of workout and the calorie counter accurately calculates the calories burned during your workout.

You can also use the line graph for monitoring heart rate intensity. You can store up to 50 workout data in the watch. Or you can opt Polar Flowlink USB dongle to transfer data to PC. To activate the monitor, simply hold any one key for two seconds and input the details asked. You are ready to go. There are sample fitness tests to evaluate your performance.

Polar FT60 features visible and audible alarms for optimal heart rate zone break. Other useful features include:

  • Button locking to avoid accidential presses.
  • Automated training programs called Polar STAR Training program.
  • Set your goals and the watch automatically select optimum workout time and heart rate intensity for achieving the goal.
  • Stores daily weight and display as a graph. It is convenient to monitor weight loss.
  • Ownzone feature to check correct heart rates.

Polar FT60 heart rate monitor is water resistant up to 30m and is available in 3 colors and can be used for men and women. Overall, this is a perfect bang for the buck.

Polar ft60 mens watch.
Polar ft60 mens watch.

2. Polar FT4: Best Heart Rate Monitor with Chest Strap

The main attraction of Polar FT4 is the unique HeartTouch automatic display. With this feature, you don’t have to push button every time to see the heart rate. Just raise your arm and watch close to the transmitter and the watch will display readings. This is a very useful and convenient way to see the heart rate especially if you are sweaty. It Include heart rate chest strap made of soft fabric material that adapts to your body shape.

Another useful but common feature is the target zone alarm, which lets you know the intensity of workout. Other features include low battery indicator, a backlight button, training summary with which you can track your workout intensity and has 10 laps memory.

The watch is light weight weighing only 0.3 kg. It has a battery life of 12 months, which means you don’t have to worry about running out of battery or frequent charging either. Polar FT4 is waterproof up to 30m, take it to swimming also. You can transfer all the data via data transfer accessory (optional) to view in computer.

Polar FT4 also functions as a normal watch when not in training mode. The design is simple, small, and cute and eye catchy. Overall this is a user friendly light weight heart rate monitor for everyday use.

MIO MIO petite design HRM watch for small wrists.
MIO MIO petite design HRM watch for small wrists.

3. MIO MIO HRM: Best Low Cost for Women

This cute and stylish HRM is highly customizable with personal data including age weight and gender. The petite design HRM watch is available for those with smaller wrists. MIO MIO displays ECG accurate heart rates without chest strap” claims the developers and it is almost correct. Not perfect, but surely dependable. The design is sleek and beautiful and has a lot of features too.

  • Calorie counter to calculate calories burned.
  • Percentage of maximum heart rate and resting heart rates are measured
  • Backlight feature
  • Time and Alarm functions

The MIO Drive Special Edition Women's HRM is water resistant up to 30m. It has easily replaceable batteries and the instruction manual clearly explains how to use the HRM. Read it before you use. MIO MIO is suitable for heart patients those who want to check heart rates often or those who work in the gym. There is no chest strap so that the HRM is easy to use and less clumsy. Not suitable for runners though.

Garmin Forerunner.
Garmin Forerunner.

4. Garmin Forerunner 610: Best HRM with GPS

The small size of the Garmin Forerunner 610 suits any wrist size. The HRM watch is very fast and has GPS. It features real-time speed and distance tracking. Also it can upload real time data wirelessly via a USB ANT+ sensor to GarminConnect. You can use the SportsTracks Sync software to log and organize all your laps and runs. The HRM features brilliant touch screen and is waterproof. Garmin Forerunner 610 has solid build quality but the touch can be slightly unresponsive sometimes. Overall this is a great buy if you are looking for a GPS HRM that can be worn all day.

Woman exercising with a Polar H7.
Woman exercising with a Polar H7.

5. Polar H7

The Polar H7 can wirelessly send real-time info to your phone. It works with both android and iPhone. All you need to do is to download Polar Beat mobile training app and let your phone do the tracking. The HRM has a chest strap which delivers more accurate readings. You may first feel uncomfortable with the chest strap, but soon you will get used to the device. With the voice alerts to guide you, the HRM watch is very easy to use. Polar H7 features powerful battery and real-time heart rate monitoring. You can also get an account of distance traveled, speed, calories burned, and your daily improvement. Polar H7 provides colorful charts to review your workouts. Overall, this one is perfect as a training buddy for everyone.

Sportline Duo 1025 heart rate watch for women.
Sportline Duo 1025 heart rate watch for women.

6. Sportline 1025: Best HRM with BP Monitor for Women

This can be labeled as one of the best HRMs with a BP monitor. The Sportline 1025 monitors blood pressure accurately and displays at your will. The AnyTouch technology is what makes it suitable for runners: You touch anywhere on the stainless steel case to get heart rate readings displayed without the need of a chest belt. Or you can use the optional chest belt (included) to receive continuous heart rates. The chest strap is soft but durable. It is comfortable to wear. Another unique feature is the Intelli-Track HR zone display to monitor your workout progress easily. Set your goals and Intelli-Track will help you to achieve it. You can find a built in stopwatch, clock, a lap view button, and backlight functionality on Sportline 1025. Sportline DUO 1025 is available for men and women.

Jarv Run BT HRM for iPhone.
Jarv Run BT HRM for iPhone.

7. Jarv Premium Bluetooth 4.0 Smart HRM for iPhone

Do you own an iPhone? If yes, then this monitor will make your life better. You can use various third party applications for tracking your fitness. Since the tracker is Bluetooth enabled, you don’t need to worry about jiggly wiggly wires and all. The CR2032 replaceable battery powers up the censor with a two-year and longer lifetime.

At such a low cost, the Jarv BT can be considered as one of the most efficient and compact fitness tracker for the money. The iPhone application serves as the operating program for Jarv Run BT. You just need to wear the chest strap and connect your iPhone via Bluetooth. More than 50 apps are compatible with the Jarv Run BT.

Although the battery lasts two years, many have reported defects. The chest strap feels lighter, you wont notice it after a while. It provides accurate readings and is very easy to use.

Leran to use HRM right away

How to Use a Heart Rate Monitor

  1. First of all, find maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220 (220- your age).
  2. 60 to 70% of this value is low intensity exercise.
  3. 70 to 80% is medium intensity and 80+ is high intensity.

Essential Features to Consider Before Purchasing

  1. Battery type – Battery can be replaceable or rechargeable. Rechargeable provide less battery backup but you can recharge it whenever you want. Replaceable provide much more battery backup but you may need to contact service center to replace it on failure.
  2. Easy visibility – The display should be easily readable. Otherwise you will find it very annoying.
  3. Ease of use – The easiness to use is another factor to consider. All the functions hould be easily accessible and user friendly.
  4. Quick and responsive – The device should be responsive as it constantly monitors and interprets the data. We need real-time numbers instantly.
  5. Accuracy – You know the heart rate monitor should be accurate.
  6. Comfortability – Chest strap models are more accurate but less comfortable while strapless models are more comfortable but less accurate. Choose according to your need.
  7. Design – If you prefer HRM watches, design is an important factor. Many reputed brands like Garmin, Polar, Tom Tom etc produce eye catchy HRM watches.
  8. Price – Last but not least, budget is always a concern for everyone.

Other Useful Features to Look for

  • Target heart rate zone – This may be the most useful feature as it notifies you when you reach the max heart rate level through beep sound or red light or both. You can set the maximum rate manually.
  • Calorie counter
  • Speed & Distance monitor
  • PC interface
  • Countdown timer, calendar, clock, stopwatch etc
  • Bicycle mounting options
  • Waterproof
  • Weight
  • Recording features – You may need to store previous data on the HRM itself for easy comparison. A minimum of 100 lap memory is pretty good.

Quick Question!

Which of 'em you like the most?

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    • healthcarepro profile image

      healthcarepro 3 years ago from Somewhere on Earth

      Thank you.. :)

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 3 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very useful hub. It gives a comprehensive knowledge of HRM monitors with complete review of available options. You have done a great job by sharing this knowledge. Thanks for it.

      Voted up and useful.