It is very simple to feel your heart throbbing, all you have to do is out your hand on your chest and there it is. The heart is the organ that we take for granted more than any other and is also the one that everything else relies on. If is stops so do you, simple as that. Every time we exercise our heart increases its work rate by pumping more blood, thus allowing it to take the extra strain. The heart is essentially a muscle and like all the rest, exercise is very good for it but you do not want to over strain it.
HRMs, or heart rate monitors are an excellent way of keeping a check on how your heart in performing and while they are not essential they are a useful piece of training equipment and becoming more popular all the time. The latest models are worn on the wrist like a watch and thanks to the latest GPS technology they have morphed into the kind of device that not only tells you how much you are exercising but will also tell you if you are in an unfamiliar area.
Of course, you can argue that people have been exercising for centuries without any kind of technological device and have only listened to their breathing to gauge how hard they are working their heart and as for finding our way around; maps have also done the job for centuries. This is all true but it also has to be said that the new wave of HRMs, the best of which can be found on sites such as http://heartratemonitor.org.uk/, are very handy to have and not just a little addictive.
The latest models offer a wide range of services that can help you negotiate particularly tough challenges, such as mountain climbing for example, by taking the role of a hi tech Sherpa. Garmin is one of the leading makers of HRMs and their new Fenix range is billed as the first GPS wrist watch for those who are “serious mountaineers and outdoor discoverers”.
This device has been widely tested and one review states that it was a godsend during a 900m, misty ascent of Connemara’s Maamturk mountains, and the testers were very grateful to its ABC; altimeter, barometer and compass. While this is all well and good don’t get carried away with all the features and gadgetry and stick to one that has the right ones for your personal needs, not fork out a fortune for a load of stuff you will never use.
Most HRMs have a chest strap which transmits the information from the heart beat to the watch, and you only have to glance at the display in order to monitor your progress. There are also strapless monitors available that have finger sensors and while these give accurate enough results you don’t get constant readings as you do from the straps.
Also remember that whilst HRMs are brilliant for running, gym work etc, they aren’t suitable for every sport or exercise. The straps can come off vary easily during rowing for example, and they have to be waterproof if you want to go swimming whilst wearing one.