With today’s technology there are several different options available to keep track of your heart rate during workouts. Is it really necessary? No, but they can be very useful especially for cardio. It’s important to know the intensity level you are working at and the calories you are burning. 20 minutes on an elliptical can mean different amounts of calories burned for different people. A lot of factors cause this variation. A few are age, cardio conditioning level, general health, speed or intensity you are working, resistance or incline of the machine you are on, type of cardio you are on. So I feel a better way to prescribe cardio is by the amount of kcals you burn. So if you need to burn 200 kcals at a moderate intensity you should be keeping your heart rate in a moderate zone (for you) and not stopping until you hit 200 calories burned.
Today there are several options for heart rate tracking devices. A lot of people are using watches such as the Fitbit and the Apple Iwatch. They are fairly accurate and are certainly better than nothing. They are definitely more accurate than the machine’s internal heart rate tracker because they do know specifics about you (age,weight). I will say though I use a Fitbit mainly for tracking steps because I used it for cardio and caught it losing connection with my heart rate and therefore not tracking for periods of time. And that made me a little angry 😄. So the most accurate device that I have found is a chest strap monitor. These wrap around you like a belt around the lower chest and track your heart rate. They are ECG level accurate. The one I use is the Wahoo TickrX. This has an app you can open on your phone to see where you currently are with heart rate and calories burned. It seems to be reliable and consistent and never stops tracking. It is battery operated so it doesn’t lose a charge and people say the batteries last over a year. I currently have had no issues with it and I’ve been using it for a few months now. Polar I believe also makes a chest strap that i have heard is also very good.
If you have any questions feel free to ask! I would love to hear what you think if you give it a shot. It will definitely change your perspective on your workouts when you have a visible indicator of how hard you are working. 😊