I confess, I knew almost nothing about heart rate monitoring when Beets BLU offered to send me their heart rate monitor for review. But since I was curious and thought you might be too, I decided to go for it. (Also: I love a freebie!) 🙂
Why monitor your heart rate
Since I’m new to heart rate monitoring, I needed to answer a key question: Why track your heart rate?? Besides entertainment, of course. (To whit: My heart rate while chilling out: 75. After 2 cups of coffee: 95, lol!)
Anyhow, it turns out there are three real reasons heart rate monitoring is helpful:
1. Ensure you’re not under- or over-doing your workouts
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the “target” heart rate zone for exercise is 50-80% of your maximum heart rate. Here are the AHA’s estimated target heart rate zones by age:
Moreover, the Beets BLU online target heart rate calculator gives you five training ranges to help you optimize your workout (my ranges in parentheses):
- Warm up (92-108)
- Fat burning/fitness (110-126)
- Cardiovascular/endurance training (128-145)
- Performance/strength training (147-163)
- Maximum effort (165-183)
Personally, I wanted to know if I was actually getting a workout from my morning walk. Luckily, Beets BLU answered that question for me!
2. Monitor fitness increases over time
Take your resting heart rate 15-60 minutes after exercising, then track this number over weeks and months. If you’re working out effectively, your resting heart rate should decrease over time, according to Linda Melone, a certified personal trainer, in an article she wrote for the American College of Sports Medicine.
3. Stay motivated
Tracking food in My Fitness Pal has helped my mom lose over 90 pounds, because knowing exactly where she stands helps keep her on track. Likewise, if you’re the kind of person who functions best with feedback, buying a heart rate monitor (HRM) could help you stay the course with your workouts.
Of course, you don’t need an HRM to count your heartbeats—you can do that manually. But that means stopping your workout, taking your pulse, doing math, and noting it down. So not fun! However, an HRM makes tracking your heart rate—and exercising in the “bliss” zone—easy peasy.
Review: Beets BLU Heart Rate Monitor
Now, on to the Beets BLU! This compact, comfortable heart rate monitor sends real-time data to your phone and is compatible with iPhone 4s+ and most recent Android devices. (Full list here.) I used it with my iPhone 5, and Jeff used it with his Android Nexus 4 with no problems.
You’ll be proud of me, because I actually read the directions before trying out the Beets BLU.
In so doing, I learned that you have to download a “compatible application” to use the Beets BLU. That was news to me, but luckily BeetsBlu.com lists 3 pages (!) of suitable apps here. I chose MapMyWalk, since it’s free and can “talk” to MyFitnessPal, which I already use. To pair the Beets BLU with my phone, I simply searched for the device within MapMyWalk and pairing occurred automatically. Win!
The Beets BLU has two parts:
- Transmitter (with pre-installed battery) that sends the data to your phone
- Strap with built-in electrodes to measure your heartbeat
To use the Beets BLU, you moisten the electrodes with water, wrap the strap around your rib cage just beneath your bra (or not, for the gents), and snap the ends to the transmitter.
Within seconds my phone was telling me my heart rate in real time. So cool!
Now, I don’t like anything constricting—skinny jeans make me crazy—so I was worried that wearing a monitor might annoy me. However, the Beets BLU was surprisingly comfortable, although it did take a couple of tries to get it adjusted properly. Once situated, though, I was pleasantly surprised by the smooth strap that stayed securely in place. (In fact, I left it on for hours after I was done with it because I simply forgot it was there.)
Once the monitor was on, it was time to get down to business: Figuring out if my morning walk was actually giving me a workout. So I headed out for a brief jaunt around my neighborhood at my usual pace.
The results? Over three-quarters of a mile, my average heart rate was a measly 107 bpm.
Which means that my daily workout is actually just a warm-up.
Needless to say, I’ll now be challenging myself to keep my heart rate in my “fat burning/fitness” range. Who knows, after a couple of weeks, I might even make it to the cardiovascular training range. My heart is going to love me!
So, is Beets BLU right for you?
If you’re motivated by real-time feedback (like yours truly), Beets BLU can help you stick to your workout plan. It can also keep you from “coasting” once you’ve mastered a given fitness level. Of course, Beets BLU is also great for serious athletes, as it can help optimize training. Finally, it’s a fun gift for the gadgety guy in your life—hubby Jeff loves it and uses it during his TRX workout (which actually is a good workout, putting him right in his cardiovascular range).
But what about using a smart watch with a built in heart rate monitor instead? I mean, the watch would be harder to forget, since presumably you’re already wearing it. However, according to Wareable.com, chest-strap heart rate monitors are more accurate than smart watches—and much less expensive.
Beets BLU final analysis: Cool tool for easy heart rate monitoring
I couldn’t really find anything negative to say about the Beets BLU, and I plan to keep using it to boost my fitness. It’s comfortable, user-friendly, and provides you with motivating feedback. However, nerd that I am, I’ll probably also use it for pure entertainment, like recording my heart rate while watching a Brooklyn 99 (so funny!), dancing to my favorite tunes, and driving in DC traffic. (That will definitely be in the cardio zone! 😉 )
Of course, if heart rate monitoring isn’t useful to you, please don’t buy something you don’t need! But if you want to take your workouts to the next level—or learn the surprising things that make your heart race (like the awesome recipes at Veggie Quest, right??)—the Beets BLU could be for you.
Beets BLU heart rate monitor, $39.95. Get yours at Amazon.
Save 10% through the end of March!
Note: I received the Beets BLU heart rate monitor for free in exchange for my honest review. For my full review policy, please visit my disclosure page.