With heart disease the No. 1 killer in the U.S., February is designated American Heart Month. Vigorous exercise can help keep your heart healthy. And Consumer Reports says using a heart monitor is a good way to go.
Consumer Reports tested heart-rate monitors ranging from $35 to $110. The most common are chest-strap monitors, which measure your heart rate via a sensor on a strap that you wear around your chest. They transmit the results to a wristwatch that you wear while you exercise so that you don't ever have to touch anything.
With another type—wrist-strap monitors—you have to touch the device with the fingers of your other hand to get a reading.
Also included in the test was a ring monitor from LifeSpan.
Panelists wore the devices while working out a treadmill. An electrocardiograph confirmed the accuracy of the monitors. All proved accurate, except for the LifeSpan ring.
Most of the monitors also have convenient features, such as a watch and a stopwatch. With many of them you can also program in the maximum and minimum heart rates that you want to reach while you're exercising. Those monitors alert you if you go outside of your zone.
The $50 Timex Personal Trainer chest-strap monitor rated excellent for accuracy and ease of use. That type of monitor is especially good for working out on a treadmill or running or biking.
A wrist-type can be fine for walking. Consumer Reports says a good choice is the SportLine Duo 1010, which can be used either as a chest strap or as a wrist monitor. It costs $60.