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Balanced Health and Fitness

Ramp Up Your Workout with a Fitness Monitor

I recently purchased a Polar F11 fitness monitor and it’s totally changed my workouts!  This wrist unit not only keeps track of my heart rate (which is an indication of how hard you’re pushing yourself), it estimates the number of calories I’ve burned during the session.

The best part is that I can upload all of that information to a website that keeps track of all of my workouts.  Instantly, I can see how many times I worked out this week, how many calories I burned, the total amount of time I spent exercising, and a number of other things.  How cool is that?

Not only that, …

I can also schedule, or set goals, for future workouts.  The website can even design an exercise program for me.  All I have to do is tell it how many times I want to work out during a week and it does the rest.  As you can see from the screenshots, the website displays the entire week with all of my workout sessions listed.



When I click on a specific workout, the site gives me a bar chart telling me my maximum heart rate, my average heart rate, and how much time I spent in each zone.

The neat part is that since I’ve started using the Polar F11 and uploading my workout info, I’ve literally been looking for chances to “fill up my calendar” with workouts.  It really motivates you to workout so you can get “something on the board.”

As if that wasn’t enough motivation, you can also participate in “challenges.”  A challenge is a goal that someone sets, for example “to see who can burn the greatest number of calories in a 2 month period,” that several people can participate in.  When you accept a challenge, your workout information is automatically included on the challenge site.  challenge

When you go to the challenge site, you’ll see a bar chart with all of the people that have accepted the challenge as well as their progress.  It also tells you what your current standing in the group is.  There’s no better motivation to get an extra workout in than a little competition.

The range of features on these types of fitness monitors is pretty extensive, as are the prices so do a little bit of research before you decide on one.  Some, like the Polar F11, only measure heart rate.  Others designed specifically for runners and/or cyclists contain a GPS device so you can measure exactly how far you’ve run or biked as well as the speed.

The more popular fitness monitors tend to be manufactured by:

  • Polar Fitness – a broad range of fitness monitors for running, cycling, and sports
  • Nike – makers of the Nike+ for the iPod as well as more traditional fitness monitors
  • Garmin – GPS enabled monitors for running and cycling

All three manufactures have a training website that allows you to upload and view your workout information.  However, only certain models from each manufacturer have Internet uploading capability so make sure you check before you purchase.

So if you’re the type of person that gets a real thrill from “putting some numbers up on the big board,” then using a system like this will probably work for you.  As I’ve already mentioned, it’s motivated me to go out and exercise because I didn’t want there to be any days without some sort of activity in my online workout diary.  Plus, I didn’t want to start lagging behind on some of the challenges that I’m part of.

When you know how many calories you’ve burned, it makes you want to go out and burn some more!

The Balanced Health Guy
Certified Fitness Nutrition Coach (NESTA)

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  1. Hi,

    I have a Garmin Forerunner 405 (also have an iPhone with Nike+ but intend on using the garmin). I plan on using the garmin and garmin connect to keep track of things as I start on the path back to getting back into shape.

  2. I’m telling ‘ya, once you start tracking your progress, you’ll want to go out and workout some more just to see how high you can make the bar on the chart go!


  3. One big problem I have with the Polar F11 is that the “select” button really sticks out and is way too easy to hit accidentally. I noticed yesterday morning that I had logged a 23 hour exercise session – during which I only burned 100 calories. Obviously I had bumped the watch somewhere and it started an exercise session.

    That’s been my only complaint about the F11.


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