Activity trackers are fantastic. They give us the ability to track our distance, pace, heart rate, calories and so much more. All of this helps us understand how our bodies respond to exercise and can lead us down a path to better health. When deciding which type of tracker to purchase there are many factors to consider. Recently, I made the decision to add a chest-based HR monitor to my workouts in addition to my Apple Watch. I’ll explain why.
First let me say I love my Apple Watch. It tracks my steps, overall movement & activity, provides me with deep insights and motivation. However there are some instances where the device falls short – in particular when I’m exercising. Like many people, my typical exercise routine consists primarily of running and weight training. When I run I always bring along my faithful four-legged running companion. Most of us who have dogs walk/run with leash in their left hand, which also happens to be the side that most of us wear our watches. The act of gripping the leash greatly interferes with my heart rate signal, and often when I return from my runs and review my data my heart rate numbers are blank. This is often the case when holding any item while running: water bottles, gel packs, jogging strollers etc. The lack of quality heart rate readings can be problematic especially when I’m trying to train in a specific heart rate zone.
So what’s the solution? You can pair a chest based HR monitor to your watch and have the monitor collect your heart rate data as opposed to your watch. When I started doing this my heart rate data came in perfectly clear, and it allowed me to analyze it to determine whether or not I’m training in the correct zone.
Now let’s talk about weight training. Surprisingly enough I typically get a better heart rate reading from my Apple Watch when I weight train, however there’s a different issue I encounter with my watch during those workouts. My watch just seems to get in the way during many lifts. The buttons accidentally get pushed which either stops my workout, shuts off the watch and on one occasion even dialed emergency services! I still want to measure my heart rate and get a sense of my calorie burn during my weight training sessions though. So my solution is to ditch the watch and put on a chest based heart rate strap. The chest based monitor records my heart rate without issue, gives me an estimation of calories burned and best of all the data is collected in my Apple activity app so I can track all of my workouts in one place. Having a reliable monitor for weight training also lets me gauge if I’m giving myself enough recovery time between sets and exercises – something that is vital for weight lifting.
So in summary, I love having my Apple Watch for monitoring my activity throughout the day, but during my workouts I need a non-wrist worn device to give me reliable data. For me the best decision was to add a chest-based HR monitor to my workouts. All the data is still collected in my activity app and in Health Kit, and I get the heart rate readings I need to make smart decisions about my training program. If you’re looking for a robust and reliable heart rate solution check out the Frontier X2. Not only does monitor your heart rate, it also measures your breathing rate and provides you with a continuous ECG.
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