Top 5 Heart Rate Monitors

If you're trying to get in shape and lose weight, a heart rate monitor (HRM) is an excellent way to monitor your intensity and see how many calories you're burning. The following list offers a variety of choices, from the exerciser who wants something simple to the multi-sport athlete who wants all the bells and whistles. These heart rate monitors have gotten some of the best reviews out there for functionality and quality.

Omron HR 210 Strap Free Heart Rate Monitor

Omron HR-210 Strap Free Heart Rate Monitor

The Omron is another basic heart rate monitor that is inexpensive, easy to use and doesn't require hours of time spent reading a manual to figure it out. You get a continuous reading of your heart rate, programmable heart rate zone alerts, time of day display and is water resistant up to 50 meters. At around $30-$70, this is a great price for what you get and you will be pleased with how easy this is to use.

Timex Easy Trainer Heart Rate Monitor With Resin Strap Watch

Timex Easy Trainer Heart Rate Monitor

The Timex Easy Trainer is another basic model that's easy to use, offers basic heart rate and workout information and is a favorite among exercisers. The display is large, so you can easily see the numbers and it includes an activity timer to track exercise time as well as information about minimum, average, and maximum heart rate for each workout.

Most exercisers like the fact that you can change the battery yourself (something you can't do with all HRMs) and that you can figure out how to set it up without spending hours reading the manual. At around $30-$60, this HRM is perfect for people who want the basics for a great price.

Polar FT4

Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor

If you're looking for a heart rate monitor that does more than just display your heart rate, but isn't so high-end that you'd have to get an engineering degree to figure it out, the Polar FT4 is an excellent choice. The FT4 has a variety of functions, from tracking heart rate and workout intensity to calculating calories burned and time spent in each zone.  

It also provides a weekly summary of your workouts that can help you stay motivated and set new goals. At about $90-$100, this is a great middle-of-the road heart rate monitor for the fitness enthusiast.

Polar FT60

Polar FT60 Heart Rate Monitor

If you're into fitness and want to improve your workouts and/or lose weight, the FT 60 offers personalized workouts that adapt according to your workout habits and goals. The FT 60 gives you weekly targets (such as to workout a certain number of minutes) based on your goals and tracks how you did.

Aside from your heart rate, the FT 60 also offers a fitness test, calories burned and it keeps track of all your workouts. The FT 60 is also compatible with the Polar GPS Unit (which is an extra $140) and FlowLink which allows you to transfer data to your computers. At around $175, this is a pricey heart rate monitor but offers great motivation for people who have specific goals.

Garmin Forerunner 310XT

Garmin Forerunner 310XT

If you're a multi-sport athlete, you may want a more serious heart rate monitor like the Garmin Forerunner 310XT. You get a heart rate monitor, GPS tracking and the ability to create your own workouts as well as analyze everything from your pace and distance to calories burned.

One stand-out feature is the courses, which lets you compete against your previous workout by comparing heart rate and pace—a great way to see if you're improving from workout to workout. This is also a good one for triathletes because you can transition between sports without resetting it.

There are some drawbacks. There's no clock, the watch is a little clunky and it costs between $160-$299. For the serious athlete, however, this one gets great reviews.

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