Measuring your effort can help you achieve fitness results. Your heart rate and the number of steps you take are two key measures that can help you assess your workouts. Combination monitoring devices help you track that information in a portable, wearable package. The best heart rate monitor and pedometer depends on several factors, including your personal preferences.
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When shopping for a combination heart rate monitor and pedometer, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. The answer depends on your goals, your workout style and your budget. If you need a continuous readout of your heart rate, the best -- and typically the most expensive -- are models that use chest straps and separate wearable receivers, according to the Consumer Reports Website. Some people find the chest straps uncomfortable as they exercise, however. The best devices for this group include small monitors, such as those that fit around your wrist like a watch or clip discretely on your clothing. The main downside of this group of devices is that you can't simply look at them to determine your heart rate -- you typically must check your heart rate by pressing the sensor against your finger.
The best and most accurate heart rate monitors have external sensors that attach to your chest, according to outdoor retailer REI. Some of these communicate wirelessly with the receiver, often worn like a watch, while others have wires that attach the sensors to the receiver. Less expensive heart rate monitor and pedometer combinations use your fingertip instead of a chest strap. However, those don't normally give you constant heart rate monitoring; they only work when you press your finger to the sensors. This can be distracting and difficult during some types of exercise, such as running. The pedometers on both types typically continue to work in the background while you're checking the device's screen for your heart rate.
The best fitness monitoring devices allow you to track your progress. Depending on your preference, the best options include devices that sync wirelessly with your phone or computer, or those that you plug in and sync whenever you're interested in compiling the data. Many offer apps or software that shows you graphs broken down by times of day or how different days of the week compare. They track all the information calculated by the device, such as your number of steps, your heart rate, calories burned, distance traveled and speed. The best ones let you input goals and track your results against those goals.
It takes a significant amount of battery capability to track input from multiple sources, such as counting your steps while monitoring your heart rate. If you plan to wear your device all day, choose one with extended battery life and fast recharge times. Ideally, the pedometer should last at least a week -- some can last for weeks or even months -- on a single charge, and it should recharge in fully in an hour or less. If all you need is tracking during your daily workouts, a model with less battery capacity might suit your needs. Some charge while connected to your computer during the synchronization process, but that's not an option for the devices that sync automatically over a wireless network.