Do Heart Rate Monitors on Treadmills Really Work?

By: onebrady

There are several kinds of heart rate monitor available on treadmills, but do they really work? You can find monitors that clip to your ear or finger, there are also hand heart rate monitors, and there are Heart EKG signals that have belts that are worn on the chest area. The key to learning what works and what does not is by knowing how each heart monitor works.

Chest Heart Rate Monitor with EKG Signal

Many avid treadmill and road runners swear that the chest monitors are the most accurate due to the location being closer to the heart. The Chest heart rate monitor is a flexible, comfortable strap that is worn on the chest just below the bust line. The strap has built in electrodes that will transmit to the monitor unit.

There are many advantages to the chest heart rate strap including a more reliable reading, very comfortable to wear, and many treadmills come with the technology built into the console.

The downside to chest EKG monitors is the ability to be affected by TV's, computers, or anything electrical if you get to close due to the interference of electromagnetic radiation from motorized equipment. Also, if there are several people at a gym wearing the chest monitors you will need to keep your distance of about 2 feet so that the monitors are not affected.

Electrical Detection of Heart Rate EKG Signal in Hand Area

The Heart rate monitors that signal through the hand area. The hand area is obviously much less than that of the chest area, but can be sensed in the palm and fingertips. Generally these monitors are found on the handle bars or grips and are metal.

The great thing bout this type of heart monitor is that it is self contained and can be used by anyone without training.

The Downside is that you must stop moving your hands so that you may get a proper reading. You also do not have a continuous reading of your heart rate, only a reading when placing your hands on the monitors. Also, there is a short delay in readout.

Ear Lobe or Finger EKG Monitors

These monitors can come in many styles like a hand held unit or wrist watch style. The other monitor styles are included directly onto the exercise equipment. These monitors have small infrared sensors under a window on the surface of the monitor. The users place a thumb or finger tip onto the window and the sensors detect changes due to the pulsing of the blood in the capillaries.

The Earlobe monitor works in the same way, only with an ear clip.

This type of monitor is great for the ease of use and mobility. The other great aspect is that many people can use these in a gym setting. The downfall is that head movement or major movement can interfere with the proper readouts. Some also feel that the small wire is a bother while working out.

Most people would agree that heart rate monitors give users a good idea of what area you heart rate is in, but they are not foolproof for exact accuracy. The monitors listed can all be purchased independently or within fitness equipment.

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Brady Freeman is a regular contributor at Treadmill Doctor.

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