December 17th, 2009
06:15 PM ET

How do I choose a heart rate monitor?

As a feature of CNNhealth.com, our team of expert doctors will answer readers' questions. Here's a question for Dr. Gupta.

From the Paging Dr. Gupta blog, Terry asks:

"I would love some advice on choosing a heart rate monitor."


Well, it turns out, Terry; our folks at CNN.com gave some great advice on this. Advice that I paid attention to since I’ve been working hard this year to get in better shape and am now training for a triathlon as a part of CNN’s Fit Nation Challenge.

As I train, something I've been focusing on is heart rate target training. It's actually pretty simple to do. First of all, calculate your maximum heart rate. The way that you do that, you subtract your age from the number 220. So, mine would be 180. Now, you calculate a range between 60 percent and 70 percent of that number. Mine would be from 108 to 126. Try and keep your pulse rate in that range while you work out. A heart rate monitor is a simple device to help you calculate your target heart rate and keep track of your workouts so you can measure your progress.

So Terry here is a rundown of heart rate monitors depending on what you’re looking for and how much you want to spend. There are a lot of monitors out there. New monitors are equipped with GPS, speed calculating shoe sensors and data analysis tracking every detail of your performance over time.

So, the experts CNN.com quoted said the new Garmin Forerunner 310XT is the optimal choice, but it is very expensive. It's almost $350. It does work anywhere in the world and you can get your heart rate, measure movement, elevation, distance and speed. Now, if you're looking for something more affordable, like a lot of people, Nike offers a slim watch size unit called the Nike Plus Sport Band. It runs about $59 and displays your distance, pace and calories burned. It holds about 30 hours worth of workout data. Check out more options at CNN.com/technology.

Keep in mind the longer your keep your body at that target heart rate I talked about, the more efficient your cardiovascular system will become, and overall, the fitter you will be. Good luck Terry hopefully tracking your heart rate will help you make your workouts even better.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.