Women's Heart Rate Monitor Recommendation
February 11, 2009 3:32 PM   Subscribe

I have searched through previous posts, but have not found specific info on women's heart rate monitors, specifically those worn on the wrist and that include a chest strap.

I perform cardio on both a bike and an elliptical at the gym 6 days a week (4 days on the bike and 2 days on the elliptical). Because my wrist is 6.75" around, I need a heart rate monitor as small as possible. I don't care what color it is, but I do care that it measures heart rate *and* calories burned. I also want the chest strap for this monitor to be the kind that has batteries that can be replaced by the user. I don't need lots of bells and whistles; I just want some simple measurements and something that fits my small wrist. This last part may be nearly impossible, but I'd love it if this monitor costs less than $100. And yes, I realize that you get what you pay for, but the limited research I have done so far suggests that at least one model (the Polar F4) is well within my price range.

I currently use the "heart rate monitors" on the equipment I use at the gym, but I do realize that they're not as precise or consistent as a personal monitor, and because heart rate matters a great deal to me during my workouts, I'm willing to cough up the money for something that will give me the precision I need.

Thanks hivemind!!
posted by angiewriter to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't used the F4, but I have been very happy with the various Polar monitors I've had over the years. (Plural only because I keep losing bits of them when I move.)
posted by catlet at 3:39 PM on February 11, 2009

Thanks for the info! Specific brand names/models that you have used yourself and have been happy with are what I am looking for here. I only mentioned the Polar F4 as an example. I'd also like to hear about any brands/models that you used that you *didn't* like.
posted by angiewriter at 4:11 PM on February 11, 2009

Do you even need a wrist display? If you are on machines at the gym that are Polar coded, a chest strap is all you need. You can buy a replacement chest strap for forty bucks.
posted by fixedgear at 4:37 PM on February 11, 2009

The Polar monitors are the best. I'm not a woman, but the women I know with Polar monitors are happy and one of them was who originally recommended I get the Polar. Some of the women (and men) at my gym put the monitor around the handlebar/handle oft the machine rather than on their wrists. This way you can rig it so you can always see the display (although your heart rate will always be on the machine if so equipped) without moving your arm or break your stride by holding your arm still to read the watch. As long as the watch is arm's length from the strap you'll be fine.

I have an F11 which I bought because it let me see what time it was while it also displayed the heart rate, or other data.
posted by birdherder at 4:49 PM on February 11, 2009

I have a old Polar which probably isn't sold anymore (the A5). It's about five years old and the battery in the chest strap still works fine. So if you see one you like, that doesn't have a user-replaceable battery, don't let that be a showstopper for you.
posted by txvtchick at 5:21 PM on February 11, 2009

I've been using Polars for about 15 years and they're great. I currently use the F6. My wrist is about 7 1/8" and it fits fine, though I think almost any monitor will feel bulky on a small wrist, either because the display needs to be big enough for you to see your HR at a glance, or because of other functionality built in.

I don't know if the F6 allows for battery replacement by the user, but as others have said the batteries last a long time. I used to send my older models into Polar and while it was a pain to wait for them, the customer service has always been great.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:13 PM on February 11, 2009

I have the Polar M61 (not sold anymore) and my wrist is 6". I originally looked for a ladies one but at the time the unisex ones had all the good features (I particularly wanted the "OwnZone" feature). It fits fine, but as others have said, you don't even need to keep it on your wrist, just put down somewhere. I think the batteries in strap I have are user replaceable, but in 5 years its never been an issue. I've had to replace the watch battery once. The F4 should do what you want and it looks way less bulky than the one I've got. The F6 also looks to be about your price range and a few more features: Polar has a comparison tool on their website.
posted by miscbuff at 8:10 PM on February 11, 2009

I didn't get a Polar monitor because the batteries aren't user replaceable. I got this Timex Ironman model instead. I've replaced the batteries myself - it's easy. The "mid size" version is a smaller size for women. It records both heart rate and calories burned, works great.
posted by betterton at 9:13 PM on February 11, 2009

I've been happy with the F4.
posted by judith at 10:10 PM on February 11, 2009

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