HRM: Chest strap or no Chest strap???

I've been working out with Cathe for about 15+ yrs and have never worn a HRM. I tried one a long time ago, but the chest strap seemed to not work during certain exercises. My doctor says that I'm starting to get high blood pressure due to long term steroid use and she wants me to monitor my heart rate and bp more, even during working out. So with so many new things out there, I just want to if having a chest strap is more accurate. I've been reading reviews on so many different ones that my brain is going crazy, so I thought I would come to the best place for advice. I don't need anything to wear 24 hrs a day, just for workouts. I do Cathe only but I also walk on my treadmill. Any help would be great.
I’ve used Polar with the chest strap for years. Like you I read a bazillion reviews and stayed with the original HR monitor product. I use a Polar A300. It’s nothing super fancy but it gives me the info I want. Plus it’s pretty cool to see the graph of what your HR is doing during a workout. I have the Polar app on my phone so when the workout is over, I sync my watch and phone. The watch charges by being plugged into the computer, which I only do about once a month. You can wear the watch all day if you want to get an idea of how much you move through out the day. Hope this helps. Good luck.
I agree with Peg - I've used a Polar with the chest strap for many years with no problems. I send it in to have the battery replaced on the transmitter or receiver, which is recommended. I've had my Polar for over 25 years and it is still working perfectly (yes, same one!!). I highly recommend Polar.
Thanks for the info. Do you find some of the wrist monitors to big big or bulky? Some almost seem like they would interfere with planks or push ups. I just wonder how accurate they are? Especially the ones without the chest strap. Some say yes and some say no. I will look more into the Polar brand. Thanks again.
I've read that the wrist only type are pretty inaccurate. 2 examples: a woman is jogging w/ her child in a big stroller (the type used for when the parent wants to run), Mom is a runner and clocked in a good number of miles. The watch reported almost NO activity because her hands were glued to the stroller bar. Another man was traveling in his car and was pounding on the steering wheel to his music. The watch reported very high activity due to him hitting the steering wheel and moving his hands. I know these are kind of extreme examples but you get the point. As far as bulk, I guess it depends how far down on your wrist you wear it and how big your wrists are. I have small wrists and it's fine. I would check return policies before you buy, just in case you spend good money and the thing stinks! I'll stick with the chest strap.
I have owned and used three different strap-on HRMs from Polar and Timex. Then I got my Fitbit Charge2 and got rid of them all. I compared my Fitbit readings to the chest-strap monitors and I found that the Fitbit does lag a little, but if you just want an overall picture of how your workout went (IE, time spent at peak, cardio, and fat-burning zones as well as total calorie burn), it does just fine. I also like that syncing it with the Fitbit app means I automatically have a record of all my workouts, and I can view the graphs in my Fitbit account. Plus it adds the workout calories burned to my base activity, and adjusts the number of calories I can eat that day based on the extra calories burned from exercise. I've been using some form of Fitbit since the thing first came out years ago, but always used a separate strap-on HRM until I got the Charge2.

It also will tell you what your resting pulse rate is if you wear it all the time and to bed, which I do, and keep a graph of that with an estimate of your cardio fitness. It will tell you your current heart rate at any time you tap it throughout the day. In fact, a close relative of mine who has a condition where she must keep an eye on her heart rate at all times (her resting heart rate is in the 90's!) relies on the Charge2 as her monitor. (You can set it to alert you if your activity level drives your heart rate over a specified threshold)

I love the Charge2 and can't recommend it (or any other Fitbit product that tracks HR) enough. It beats wearing a strap all day long (if you care about your HR outside of workouts) and does so much else too.
I have used Polar products for decades and they are the only HRMs I recommend. I can't workout without them. I bought the A360 few years ago and I use it all the time. It tracks activity and sleep and functions as a full featured HRM. It gives me the flexibility of using it as a HRM with or without a strap. The watch uses green light to read the HR if not paired to a transmitter. It is pretty accurate but you have to have it tight on your wrist when not using the strap. Also, the green light works best with lighter skin tones. I'm hoping Polar will transition to the red light sometime soon which is supposed to be more accurate overall for all skin tones. I use the green light (no strap) for a short walk on the treadmill but I use the strap for everything else. I can't stand having a tight band on my wrist during regular workouts. I've even put the band nearby during workouts and it picked up my HR without any problem.

If you decide to get the strap, get the H10 and not the H7. The H10 is more accurate. It can also hold in memory data for one workout that you can download afterwards. I wear the strap around my waist and it works fine. You have some flexibility in where you position it. The watch also gives you the ability to read your HR anytime at the touch of a button. The newer A370 starts recording HR when it senses continuous movement.

If you decide on a Polar, use their fitness test to calculate your VO2 max. It gives you more accurate daily calorie burn.

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