Cardiovascular exercise is a great way to burn calories, improve pulmonary function, de-stress and get that runners high that everyone talks about. To do it right, to maximize the results for your current goals, you will need to manage your target heart rate zones.
Managing your HR zones based upon your goals is best done using a heart rate monitor. A heart rate monitor consists of a band that goes around your torso, placed just below your chest on your lower ribs, and a watch you wear on your wrist. The halter on your torso picks up the electrical signals of your heart and transmits them wirelessly to the watch. Much like an EKG.
I recommend Polar heart rate monitors. Their are several different models and price points. The basic models range from $50.00 to $100.00. More elaborate models can cost up to $250.00. For basic heart rate monitoring, to gauge your workouts, the basic models will do fine.
The cheapest of the basic units is a very simple watch. The only information that you will get is your actual heart rate, it wont even tell you the time. No buttons or programming necessary. Just strap it on and start monitoring your HR zones.
The next step up in the basic range offer a few different options. The more options the higher the price. Options include setting up your HR zones, calories burned counter, options to save workouts and best of all, they tell time.
Regardless of the options you want, a heart rate monitor is an essential piece of exercise equipment.