Recommend a simple reliable heart rate monitor?

by Bill Hargreaves
(Yorkshire, UK.)

I have just retired, at age 67, having walked about 9 miles each day for the last 15 years, as a postman. I last ran more than a mile about 10 years ago. I enjoyed running but didn't need the exercise any more after becoming a postman late in my working life. I was invited to go on a 5k park run the other day. Initially I said yes. Then I changed my mind, having discovered your wonderful blog and thought "what's the rush?" It would be crazy to get injured, having retired in good health after a very demanding few years at work.

I threw away my last heart rate monitor 10 years ago. It was fiddly, needed a chest strap, which could really annoy me half way through a race by slipping etc. Anyway, I need to buy a HRM. I don't care how many steps I take each day (I suspect that was devised because it is easy to measure, not because it is useful). I want to measure my heart rate comfortably and easily, with minimal fuss and software. And record anything else which is useful for MAF training. Maybe I would like other functions, as my sleep patterns have gone haywire since I retired. Can you recommend a heart rate monitor please? I do have a smart phone and laptop but I don't want to spend hours each week poring over graphs.

I understand you endorse products. I don't have a problem with that. Thanks,

Bill Hargreaves.

Nicole's reply
Hi Bill, thanks for your message.

As a minimum for MAF training you will need a heart rate monitor and something that will record your pace, time and distance (useful for when you are doing MAF tests so that you can see if you are progressing). This could be a GPS watch or a running app on your phone.

Here are your possible options:

GPS running watch. A lot of GPS running watches do have an optical wrist HR monitor built in but there are often issues with erratic recordings of your heart rate. I certainly find this to be the case. My experience is only with a Garmin GPS watch so I can't really comment on other brands but Polar and Coros seem to be very popular.

HR chest strap. Chest straps are more reliable than a wrist based HR monitor but as you say, they can be annoying. However you might be surprised though at how much more confortable chest straps can be compared to 10 years ago. I bought a cheap HR strap from Amazon which I pair with my Garmin Fenix and it works well. I'm not sure the strap I bought is still around to buy but if you search on Amazon you will see reviews for HR straps ranging from £25 upwards. HR monitors on Amazon

Arm HR monitor. These strap round your arm and then synch with your GPS watch or your phone. The prices are similar to chest straps. As far as I know, they are almost as reliable as the chest strap.

The main thing is that whatever you choose, you make sure that it is compatible with either your GPS watch or the running app on your phone. I haven't personally tested many HR monitors so I would be hesitant to recommend anything but hopefully someone reading this will come up with some suggestions.

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