What features are important to have on a heart rate monitor?

The answer to that question really depends on your needs. If your goal is basic weight loss and you want to be efficient with your training and stay in your designated zones then a basic (Polar is the brand that I have had the best success with) HR monitor should work fine for you. Most basic monitors will have a HR display along with time in your zone and total exercise time. They will also allow you to manually program the intensity levels that you would like based on your estimated VO2 max or your 220-age max formula.

If you are a competitive runner and don't mind spending $300-$400 you can have monitors that have speed sensors, stride sensors, barometers and data transfer capabilities to a computer for logging runs or rides. It really depends on your goals and what you plan to use the monitor for. I can tell you from experience that most people that use HR monitors for fitness just need the basics...HR display, time in your zone, ability to adjust your zones and a time keeping capability. They are great tools!

The essential features that a heart rate monitor must have are time records in your training zone, total exercise time, and average exercise heart rate.  Additional features of a heart rate monitor that make tracking progress easier are  time below training zone, time above training zone, and recovery time.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.