Heart Rate Monitor Disadvantages
Athletes commonly use heart-rate monitors as part of their training regimen. As the use of HRMs becomes more popular among people who exercise, you might need to weigh the pros and cons of using one. The primary benefit of using a heart-rate monitor is to prevent overtraining and stay in your "zone." However, there are some disadvantages for you to consider before making an informed decision about whether to add one to your training program.
HRMs have come a long way since their introduction in the early 1980s but inconsistency remains one of the primary disadvantages, according to Kuno Hottenrot, author of "Training with the Heart-Rate Monitor." HRM users commonly complain about inconsistent readings, which make it difficult to track how hard you're working during an activity. This appears to be a problem across the board, from inexpensive HRMs to pricey ones.
In order to reap the maximum benefits from exercise, you need to train in a particular zone of your maximal heart rate. Proponents claim that training with a heart-rate monitor helps make sure you do this, thus increasing your exercise benefits and improving your performance. Although many trainers swear by them, there is no hard evidence to show that using an HRM improves performance.
Adding an HRM to your training regimen is an added expense and without the science to back up its use, it could be money wasted. Further, many people don't adhere to their use long term. The least-expensive HRMs can cost about $39.99 and typically lack a lot of features. A really good HRM can cost more than $100. It's best to make sure a heart-rate monitor is right for you before taking the plunge.
Before purchasing an HRM, try tracking your heart rate on your own. You will likely find that it is easy, convenient and more consistent. During activity, simply press your index, second and third finger into the inside of your wrist and count the beats for 10 seconds, then multiply by six to get the beats per minute. Increase the intensity of the activity and repeat until you are in your target zone. With practice, you will be able to tell by the exercise intensity whether you are training in your target zone or not.
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.