Q:

Is there a decent heart-rate monitor that doesn't require a chest strap?

My wife just had a bypass and wants a heart monitor to put on her wrist; she does not want a strap attached to her chest. Can you recommend a monitor that is self-contained on the wrist and has no other attachments? Tim Puyallup, Washington

Mar 22, 2007
Outside
Outside Magazine
NuMextrex Sports Bra

Sports Bra

A:

I hope you’re wife is doing well, Tim. This should serve as a reminder to female readers that heart disease is more likely to kill them than breast cancer, yet remains much under-publicized as a health issue. So, get out there and have your cholesterol and blood pressure checked, don’t smoke, and exercise regularly.

As for a heart monitor, there are a few options. The problem, of course, is that a sensor has to be in a position to pick up the heart’s beating. And only a few places on the body work well for that, the chest being far and away the best, hence the ubiquity of chest straps.

I think the best thing to do is get the NuMetrex monitoring system (numetrex.com). The company has integrated sensors into a sports bra, resulting in a setup that’s more comfortable than just a strap. You still need a transmitter, but it snaps onto the bra and then picks up the heart signal from the bra’s sensors.

You can get the bra with sensor and a Polar FS1 monitor/watch for $115—the bra alone works with most heart rate monitors/transmitters and sells for $50. NuMetrex has introduced a similar system for men. No, it's not a bra, but a shirt with integrated sensors.

The other choice is the PowerGlove ($80; impactsports.com), a heart rate sensor and monitor combined that you wear like, well, a glove. The unit covers the wrist and thumb, and a small LCD display on the back of it shows you your heart rate. Downside: You can’t use it in cold weather, as it won’t work when worn over another glove. And, of course, if you put a glove over it, you can’t see the display.

The Gear Guy reports from 2007 Winter Outdoor Retailer, the bi-annual gearapalooza in Salt Lake City. Check out his top picks for gear to watch in 2007.

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