The Accuracy of Treadmill Heart Rate Monitors

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Using a heart rate monitor while on the treadmill is an effective way to improve the quality of your workout. Whether your goal is to lose weight or improve your aerobic endurance, a heart rate monitor gives you accurate information regarding the effect of exercise on your heart. It can also give you an assessment of your fitness. A heart rate monitor is a common feature on many treadmills. The accuracy of the monitor varies with the type and the use of the device.

Benefits

With a heart rate monitor on your treadmill, you can accurately gage the intensity of your workout. For optimal cardiovascular fitness, you should exercise within 50 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate, recommends the University of Maryland Medical Center. The convenience of a treadmill heart rate monitor allows you to check your heart rate in real time, making adjustments as necessary. You do not have to buy or wear additional equipment.

Types

You have two options available for a treadmill heart rate monitor. Some models have a hand grip monitor that you grip as you work out. Other models include an interface that will communicate with a chest strap transmitter. Information from the chest strap device is broadcasted to the treadmill, which displays your current heart rate. The choice is up to you. The hand grip monitor is convenient. Some individuals may find the chest strap transmitter uncomfortable.

Considerations

The accuracy of treadmill heart rate monitors depends on the contact between you and the device. While in motion, you may find it difficult to maintain contact with the handlebar, especially if you are running. This can lead to inaccurate readings. The solution is to stop your workout and check your heart rate, which defeats the purpose of using it for training purposes. Chest strap models are more accurate because they are fixed in place with a greater amount of skin contact.

Use

You should plan on using either the hand grip monitor or the chest strap transmitter when working out, if your treadmill is equipped with both. Using the two at the same time will result in inaccurate readings. Your hands should be clean for best contact with the hand grip monitor. To use the hand grip monitor, you will need to step off of the treadmill to the foot rails. For greatest accuracy, hold onto the hand grip monitor for several seconds.

Prevention/Solution

For greatest accuracy, periodically clean your handlebars with a mild detergent solution to remove debris which may interfere with heart rate detection. The same general care applies to a chest strap transmitter. If you find that you are getting abnormal readings, check that the strap is securely in place. MP3 players or cell phones may also interfere with the signal. As the battery drains, you may also experience irregular readings. Basic troubleshooting will help improve the accuracy of your treadmill heart rate monitor for the most effective workout.

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