Polar Heart Rate Monitor Review

Polar Heart Rate Monitor for skiing
My Heart and Polar Heart Rate Monitor are into Skiing!

I have long used a Polar heart rate monitor when exercising, my first ones mating up with a watch like device. It gave me instantaneous feedback on my workout intensity. Not that I would ever ease up. The problem with the old style was recording and tracking, but with advances in consumer technologies very powerful fitness tracking is easily had by the masses.

polar heart rate monitor
Polar Heart Rate Monitor (copyright Polar)

Polar Heart Rate Monitor — Product Review Disclosure Statement

I purchased my own Polar H7 at Scheels in Appleton and I purchased it for less than the marked price as the last one they had was returned. No one is paying me to write this review and I have no financial interest in the Polar company or Scheels. Lastly, no one asked me or encouraged me to write this review.

Polar Heart Rate Monitor — What is the H7 Heart Monitor and what is it Not

The Polar H7 consists of a heart rate monitor strap and bluetooth transmitter. The H7 Polar heart rate monitor does NOT include a recording or reporting device. The strap is soft and a big improvement over old style straps. Like the old strap you moisten your chest and the part of the strap contacting your skin over the chest and you put it on. It fastens with a simple plastic hook that catches a cloth loop and there is a clip to tighten or loosen the strap to fit your body.

Once the strap is on snap the transmitter in and away you go! To recored and monitor a smartphone and app or a dedicated device to capture heart rate data (and many exercise machines can capture and report too). You can now monitor and adjust your true effort per your goals and workout plan. In addition, it allows for more accurate calorie output reports.

Polar Heart Rate Monitor — Recording and Monitoring the H7

The H7 Polar heart rate monitor transmits its data via BLE — blue tooth low energy. So you need a phone or device capable of connecting to BLE devices plus a compatible application. Polar (and others) provides the app for free you can download via your phone’s app market. I use a iPhone 4 and a Motorola Razr Maxx, the Razr does not support BLE but the iPhone does.

One thing you must know. The H7 manual says do not put your phone in a back pocket as it will likely lose the heart rate monitor signal and I confirm that is true. The first time I used it I put my iPhone in the back pocket of my jersey and it lost the HRM signal about 6 miles into an 18 mile bicycle ride.

The Polar heart rate monitor app is a standard exercise tracking app, but with the additional ability of connecting to the HRM without needing to pay. The tracking app is standard, but add the HRM and you are rocking! You need to do a little setup adding the usual parameters, age, sex, height, and weight. In addition, input your resting heart rate, our maximum heart rate, and your VO2 max.

Turn the bluetooth on and pair the HRM with your phone and then go into the setup in the app and you are ready.

The app reports distance, time, average speed, and average heart-rate at each mile I ride or ski. The app keeps the phone screen alive and creates a histogram of time spent in each of the five heart rate training zones. I like this feature when I am free spinning on exercise bikes and I use it to control my heart rate and use it to engage in interval workouts. When I am done with a spin class, I can confirm and KNOW I had a vigorous workout. The following day I often opt for an easy recovery workout and use the monitor to discipline myself and keep my heart rate at the right level.

To do this I put the phone in an arm strap and strap it to the bike’s handlebars. When I am riding for real the arm strap goes on my arm. I have yet to obtain cycle computer, but I can listen to the regular report and the use of the monitor allows me to better relate how I feel to where my heart rate is at.

Polar Heart Rate Monitor — Skiing with a HRM

Polar Heart Rate Monitor for skiing
My Heart and Polar Heart Rate Monitor are into Skiing!
When I ski I record my heart rate. The quick summary of my experience is that skiing (at least in the fashion I do) is a mildly aerobic activity I could keep at all day long. I get my heart rate up enough that it qualifies as exercise but not so much I overload my body. This app does have an alpine skiing activity in its list of activities, but it does not record any statistics that would be of particular interest to skiers other than speeds.

The interesting and unsurprising thing is how the heart rate rises and falls. I ski at small resorts and a very periodic pattern is evident. The hear rate rises as I get off the chair and go downhill and rapidly returns to its resting rate as I ride up the chair.

Polar Heart Rate Monitor Review — Heart Rate Monitoring Benefits

If you have used phone weight loss apps to track your calories you are often asked to rate your exercise efforts. Was that 30 minutes on the elliptical a light, moderate, or intense effort? How does one answer that? It is difficult because you want to get it right and with a Polar heart rate monitor you have actual measurements.

Another benefit is you KNOW what your effort level actually is. If you set out to perform a recovery workout you can keep your effort low and if you set out to do a full out go to you puke workout then you make sure your are doing that as well.

Polar Heart Rate Monitor Review — Problems

Once in a while I need to reboot the Polar heart rate monitor transmitter. I put it on and the phone can not find the HRM. When this happens you need to remove the battery and hold the contacts to the strap snaps and count to ten. I then leave the HRM transmitter alone for ten minutes (or longer) and then put that battery back in. Then the HRM is once again visible to my phone. I have gotten into the habit of doing this on a regular basis, because when I am meeting up at 5:30 with the group to ride I will be SOL if my iPhone can not see the HRM.

Polar Heart Rate Monitor — Do You Use a Polar Heart Rate Monitor?

How about you? Do you use or have you ever used a heart rate monitor?

Good Stuff!

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