Are Wearable Heart Rate Monitors The Future of Wellness?

A 2014 survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 20 percent of American adults were wearing some form of a smartwatch with heart-rate monitoring functionality. While many might see this as simply another gimmick in the current techno-fashion craze, these devices offer more than just heart rate data for seasoned athletes and fitness junkies.

Why you should care about your heart rate.

Even though the statistics regarding cardiovascular disease are well published, very few people consider their own heart health unless it’s already caused them disease. During exercise, a quick peek at your heart rate can be a good indicator of how hard you’re pushing. Back in the office or at home, information on your resting heart rate can prove equally valuable in gauging your fitness level and could help detect potential problems, like high blood pressure or tachycardia (an irregular or arrhythmic heartbeat)

What is a normal heart rate anyway?

While there is much debate surrounding the “ideal” resting and maximum heart rates, the typical range for a healthy resting heart rate falls between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm) According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), a quick method to calculate is to take 220 minus your age. So, a 28 year old should have a max heart rate of 192 bpm. The guideline is to stay within 60 to 70 percent of that number to maintain a good active heart rate. If you’re relaxing on the couch however and your bpm climbs rapidly, you should definitely consult a doctor.

Finding the right wearable heart rate monitor.

Today, consumers are spoilt for choice from chest straps to watches, armbands, and now even heart rate monitoring headphones. The question comes down to your lifestyle, exercise requirements: for pure convenience, a watch is definitely the way to go as you have all the details available at a glance. If accuracy is your main concern, a chest strap can’t be beaten but, will require a compatible watch to read the data in real-time. Many of the newer devices have support for 3rd party applications like Nike+, Endomondo, and Strava, allowing you to better keep track of your fitness level and routes via built-in GPS and also engage your competitive streak through social networking.

For further reading:

Annals of Internal Medicine

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