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Home > Health > Home Fitness Guide > Heart Rate Monitors > How Do Heart Rate Monitors Work?


How Do Heart Rate Monitors Work?

Simple answer: Heart rate monitors work by transmitting a signal from the monitor to a wrist receiver that displays your heart rate.

Detailed answer: Monitors come with a strap that you put around your chest. It works as an electrode and uses radio signals to be able to measure the electrical activity of your heart. That information is sent to a receiver, which is usually something worn around the wrist. Most of them tend to look a bit like watches. This wrist receiver then displays the information.

Some heart rate monitors have lots of fancy features. Mine is a basic one and will continuously display my heart rate. This is very convenient while exercising, all I have to do is look down at my wrist to see how I am doing. And all I have to do is move my wrist up to the chest strap with it will then display the number of minutes I have been exercising so far, for a few seconds, then go back to the heart rate.

Fancier ones will let you enter in the upper and lower limits of your target zone, and then let you know if you are in it, or if you have gotten too close to your upper level.

Lots of cardiovascular exercise equipment can display heart rate information it picks up from your chest strap, so you don't even have to look at your wrist.

There are also some other types of heart rate monitors that use a beam of infrared light that goes through your skin and measures the amount of blood going through your vessels. These tend to not be as accurate though becuase things like bad circulation or exercising really heavily and throw it off.

Here are a couple other articles about heart rate monitors on this site:


How to Choose a Heart Rate Monitor.

Heart Rate Monitors Comparison.






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