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Heart Rate Monitors FAQs

What are heart rate monitors?

Heart rate monitors (HRMs) are devices that are worn on the body, typically the chest or the wrist, that detect heart rate through your skin using specialised optical sensors. The information on the heart rate can include Beats Per Minute (BPM) and Heart Rate Variability (HRV). Typically, apps and programs that pair with these devices require users to input details such as age, weight, height and other data points to estimate maximum heart rate (HR).

What can they be used for?

Typically they are used to monitor cardiovascular exertion during exercise as BPM, however different HRMs present the information in different ways such as:

  • A points system such as Lionheart, where sustained cardiovascular exertion over time is calculated into points during a workout
  • Calories burnt during a workout
  • Metrics that serve as proxies for cardiovascular exertion (e.g. ‘Effort score’ or Strain)
  • Metrics that serve as proxies for cardiovascular recovery (i.e. how primed your cardiovascular system is for exercise

How accurate are HRMs?

There are a number of factors that influence accuracy of optical heart rate monitors, some of the key ones are:

  • Data inputted by the user during setup as well as maintaining accurate data over time
  • Placement of the device, typically chest-mounted HRMs are more accurate than wrist HRMs
  • Algorithms can differ between devices in terms of how they calculate things such as calorie burn and max HR
  • Algorithm variability/flexibility differs between devices as well. Some devices have algorithms that change depending on the activity type the user is doing, be it exercise, active recovery and sleep
  • Some devices are worn only during workouts whereas others are during the entire day. Typically devices designed to be worn for longer periods of time are paired with apps and algorithms that measure resting heart rate to more accurately understand BPM during a workout.
  • Quality of hardware varies between devices not just in sensor quality but also the device’s ability to stay in the same place whilst being worn and how affected it is by perspiration
  • Perspiration, body hair and skin color can all impact the quality of data collected by HRMs

What is the best HRM?

The best HRM is the one that works for you and is worn consistently. Due to the inherent variance in accuracy not only between devices but even at a specific device level, it is important to ensure that on a workout by workout and/or day by day basis (depending on the device) you use the same device, worn on the same part of the body consistently. 

To get the most out of any HRM, ensure consistent usage and placement to establish a baseline, then monitor progress over time by observing general trends.

Positive trends include:

  • Lowering heart rate during workouts where your exertion is the same each time
  • Increasing points scores (for supported platforms) as your ability to maintain/increase exertion improves
  • Reducing resting heart rate (RHR)
  • Increasing Heart Rate Variability (HRV)

How does Lionheart use Heart Rate?

The purpose of LionHeart is to motivate members to have more effective workouts, attend more classes, to ultimately reach their fitness goals faster. It currently addresses these objectives via software and hardware which provide in-studio, real-time updates and post-workout analysis.

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