The Polar H7 Heart Rate Monitor – A Review

As some of you may recall I have been talking about an upgrade to a Suunto GPS watch or an Apple watch over the past month but the more I have thought about it, the more I have realised that the only time I want to monitor my heart rate or my distances is when I am exercising. This would therefore mean that at £500 either of the Apple or the Suunto would be a very expensive luxury that would be very hard to reason with my bank balance.

So I sat down and looked at what I already had. The Jawbone counts my steps so that tells me if I have actually been active without trying (as in walking around the shops, going for a stroll with a friend or just getting on with life from day to day). It also counts my steps when I am on a long yomp and lets me monitor how well I have done.

The second thing to consider was the iPhone and the fitness related “apps” that are available. Now the iPhone goes EVERYWHERE with me. I use it for calls, emails, messages and music when exercising. This means I can use it for Map My Walk and get the distances covered accurately via GPS.

To me then, the only thing left to consider was an HRM (Heart Rate Monitor) that could correctly measure my heart rate and therefore calculate ACCURATELY the amount of calories my exercise regimes burn when undertaken. An investigation was done and an HRM was found that could “talk” to the iPhone and more specifically was able to “talk” to it’s own purpose built “app” on the iPhone.

Enter the Polar H7 HRM.

So then, what can I say about the Polar H7 Heart Rate Monitor?

Well first impressions are that it is absolutely ideal for what I want. It monitors my heart rate and reports the results in real time to the iPhone. The “app” then works out exactly what I have burnt in calories and the timer gives me an accurate idea of where I am in my exercise. Another good thing about it is it is able to “talk” to the machines in my gym (Techno Gym I believe) and stops the HRM on the display from constantly flashing because I don’t want to hold the grips in the place the machine would like me to in order to get its reading.

A small thing I know but one that I value quite highly.

So where did I buy it from.

Well after a little investigation I was still unsure of exactly what unit I required so I contacted Polar direct and asked which unit worked with the iPhone. I was instructed by return of email (about 20 mins later) that the H7 is the recommended model and they are available in many places including Argos, Polar-Online, Wiggle, John Lewis and many other running and cycling shops. I found the best value however to be from Amazon as long as I bought a pink chest strap instead of a black one. The price difference between the two?

An amazing 100%!

Yes 100% just because one strap was pink (£31) and the other one was black (£62)

Ridiculous. I mean who is going to see what colour the chest strap is when it’s under my shirt!

So, I got my new monitor and downloaded the app. At first I couldn’t get it to connect with the phone and as there didn’t appear to be an on/off button, I couldn’t understand how it was activated. That was when I saw the first piece of brilliant innovation. The unit doesn’t “switch on” to broadcast until it is popped into the chest strap with two popper buttons (one each side) completing the circuit.

a-look-at-the-new-polar-beat-bluetooth-smart-app-17

This means that as long as you remove from the strap after each session you will find that you are saving battery power without having to remember if you have switched it off. This is good for a second reason as the battery isn’t that easy to change although all you require is the edge of a coin and it turns quite easily once you get some purchase on it. Remember, it has to be tight in order to keep the moisture created by your effort, out of the inner electronics. Unit removal from the strap is something I already find easy to do after only one week of ownership as I remove it from the strap so that the strap is easier to store and I simply place the monitor in my earbuds case so I know where it is each time.

Simple!

So then, how well does it work?

Brilliant so far. The unit is well put together, is so simple that ANYONE could work out how to use it and once in place on the chest, offers a comfort level equal to any other monitor I have previously worn. It links easily to the iPhone and allows the “app” to read its signals clearly regardless of whether it is in close proximity or a few feet away. It allows very precise readings to be taken and the app on the iPhone then does the rest turning it into a figure we understand after it takes into account your height, sex, weight and age.

There are certain daily and weekly sections to the “app” allowing you to register your personal bests against previous and current times. This means you can always be striving hard to improve on your fitness and calorie burn. It monitors your heart rate and puts in different algorithms for different exercises by you simply telling the app if you are cycling indoors on a static bike, running outside or doing strength training in a gym. The best bit is, I believe it is very accurate indeed so as a tool for monitoring my fitness and calories burnt I honestly do believe it is one of the best available.

Now its just up to you whether you want a pink one or a black one because the price difference is worth the screaming fuchsia as far as I am concerned 🙂

FOOD DIARY: Tuesday 23rd June 2015

Qty Measure Food Calories (gr) Protein (gr) Carbs (gr) Fat (gr)
Breakfast  1  Large  Poached Egg  82  7.8  0  5.7
 1  Small  Rasher of Smoked Bacon  140  32  0  20
 1  Medium  Lean Sausage  111  10  4  8
Lunch 2  Small Boiled Eggs  114  9.3  0  7.8
1/2  165gms Chicken Breast Slow Cooked  142  27  0  3.1
1  100gms Mixed Finely Chopped Tomato & Lettuce Salad 15  1  3  0
 1  20gms  Gaucamole  30  0.5  1  4.6
Dinner  1  30gms  Sticky Rice 20  0.5  4.5  0
 1 Small Bowl Shitake Sweet and Spicy Beef Stew  205  22  16  5
Snacks  1  400mls  Cappuccino  90  4  7  4
 1  Bar  Coconut and Almond Bar  392  8.2  4  36
Totals  1341  122.6  39.5 95.2
Water 2  500mls  Mineral Water (Fizzy) 0  0  0 0

Food diary for this day was quite excellent on all bar the calorie count but it was only the Almond and Coconut bar that blew it up so I am not particularly fussed as I was active enough to take care of those calories and the fats that they increase the totals by are the good fats (like me 😉 )

Anyway, it was at last the long awaited return to the gym yesterday after a whole TWO days of rest! I actually have to confess that even though I enjoyed every minute of my downtime, was so glad to be back and getting my fitness regime back on track. Yes I know I only took one extra day but I appear to be doing that more times than I have not done it so this really may need addressing at some point, but for now, well hey, if it ain’t broke, why fix it…

So I was back in the gym and able to complete my various activities that add up to the 26 minutes of Cardio so readily that I though I would add a further 4 minutes on the bike to round it up to 30 minutes. I know it may not seem like a big jump to most people but to me, this could be the difference between requiring medical attention and crawling away unaided to lick my wounds 😉

So with the Cardio adjusted, the weights regime changed a little and by just manipulating the actual weights and not the reps, I am now getting on quite well with the current programme of:

  1. 3 x 30 Reps 25kg Abductor machine
  2. 3 x 30 Reps 25kg Adductor machine
  3. 3 x 30 Reps 30kg Abdominal Crunch machine
  4. 3 x 30 Reps 30kg Lower Back machine
  5. 3 x 25 Reps 25kg Cable Row
  6. 3 x 30 Reps 20kg Chest Press
  7. 3 x 30 Reps 20kg Pec Deck
  8. 2 x 25 Reps 20kg Tricep Pull Down
  9. 1 x 30 Reps 20kg Tricep Pull Down
  10. 3 x 30 Reps 6kg (each arm) Bicep Dumbell Curl
  11. 2 x 20 Standing Oblique 20kg Barbell Twists (10 each side)
  12. 1 x 30 Standing Oblique 20kg Barbell Twists (15 each side)
  13. 2 x 20 Standing Russian Oblique Weighted Bar Twists (10 each side)
  14. 1 x 30 Standing Russian Oblique Weighted Bar Twists (15 each side)

The walk was an energetic one compared to the previous two days efforts and left me with a Map My Walk screenshot of:

IMG_1309

This meant the total Polar Heart Rate screenshot gave a not too shabby calories burnt:

IMG_1308

This days activity culminated in a Jawbone reading in excess of my usual 10,000 required/scheduled steps and gave a screenshot of:

XX

So with things now back on track, I shall attempt to improve on my delinquent tendencies and see if we can’t yet complete an entire week without issue…

‘Till tomorrow,

Stay out of the fridge.

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