Monday, March 2, 2009

a tale of two heart rate monitors.

So this weekend I bought my heart rate monitor!
And then I bought ANOTHER heart rate monitor!

I went to Sport Chek on Saturday with the intention of buying the Polar F6. (Yes, this is the same one Angie has. Does that make me a fangirl? Oh well. Let’s be honest, I kind of am.) The Polar F6 was 149.99. When I got there and started chatting with the sales guy he started selling me on the advantages of the Timex Ironman Triathlon – can monitor your heart rate all the time rather than just when you’re ‘exercising’, slimmer ‘lady-sized’ watch, etc. He said his girlfriend had one and loved it. I know what you’re thinking, he was trying to up-sell me, but the Timex was actually $20 CHEAPER than the one I wanted. So I figured he must be being honest, and I decided to get that one.

I got it home and excitedly sat down with the manual until I’d figured everything out. Strangely, it showed my heart rate fluctuating between 30bpm and 120 bpm, even just sitting on the couch. But not to be discouraged, I excitedly donned my workout clothes and put on the 30-Day Shred. Twenty-eight minutes later my HRM happily reported that I had burned … 708 calories. Yes, over 700 calories in 28 minutes. Houston, we have a problem.

I searched around online and found a few other people also reporting overly-high calorie counts. I posted on a message board I belong to and everyone agreed that it was way too high – a couple people mentioned they had Timex’s as well, and had to use only half or even a third of the calorie burn it reported.

Not pleased.

So on Sunday I went back and there was a different sales guy. I asked if I could buy the Polar F6 I’d originally wanted, take it home to compare, and then return whichever one seemed less accurate. He thought this was a good idea and added that I would likely end up keeping the Polar. “Polar makes the heart rate monitors they use in hospitals,” he said. “To be honest I’m not sure why our other sales associate would have talked you down to the Timex.”

So I brought the Polar home, figured out how to use it and gave it a go – my heart rate didn’t fluctuate this time but seemed to stay exactly where I expected it to be, even during the ‘OwnZone’ test where you have to gradually increase your exertion each minute. I did the 30 Day Shred again, and this time, it was reported that I had burned 365 calories. Yes, this seems much more accurate.

So, obviously I’m going to keep the Polar and return the Timex. Not just because the calories were more accurate but the whole thing just felt like it worked better. I think I got a Men’s kind, cause the watch face is pretty big, but that doesn’t really matter to me. I also find the chest strap a little more comfortable.

So, if anyone is thinking of buying an HRM, hopefully this post has been helpful. I know all the bloggers seem to buy Polars, and it might seem annoying and kind of like one of those things people do because ‘everyone else is doing it’, but I think Polar actually does make the superior product (at least compared to Timex). And the price is not much higher (and in fact, you can get the Polar F4 for only about $100.)

Now I'm going to have fun this week trying to burn as many calories as possible. :) 10%, here I come!