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Top 8 Pulse Monitors

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Updated May 31, 2014

A pulse monitor tells you your pulse rate by pressing sensor buttons with one or two fingers. These are alternatives to heart monitors that use chest straps, or stopping to take your pulse using your fingers and watch the old-fashioned way. It is important to test drive any pulse monitor to make sure you can take your pulse accurately with it.

1. Sportline Duo 1060 Heart Rate Monitor and Pedometer Watch

Sportline Duo 1060 Heart Rate Monitor Speed and Distance Monitor
Courtesy of Pricegrabber

This multi-function watch lets you view your heart rate by using a finger pulse monitor, or you can use the chest strap sensor. I had no difficulty in getting an accurate pulse with the finger pulse function. But wait, there's more! It has a built-in pedometer to count workout steps (not total daily steps) and estimate distance, speed, calories burned. It includes a timer, stopwatch, interval training timing, and alarms. It also works well as a watch, with night light.

2. Azumio Instant Heart Rate App

Azumio Instant Heart Rate App
Screen shot by Wendy Bumgardner © 2011
Turn your iPhone, iPod touch or Android phone into a pulse monitor with this handy app. It uses the camera and LED flash of your device to read the pulse from a fingertip placed over the camera. It works well for devices that have a flash, otherwise you need to be in bright light. The paid version includes saving your readings and viewing charts. If you carry a compatible device on your walks, this is a great app to use for on-demand heart rate.

3. Mio Heart Rate Monitor Watch

Mio
Wendy Bumgardner ©

To take your pulse you press two fingers on the Mio sensors. The Mio also tracks your calories burned, and you can input the calories eaten to track your diet. It times your exercise and works great as a watch, too. I got accurate pulse readings with it and wore it as my primary watch.

4. Mio Alpha Continuous Pulse Monitor

Mio Alpha Strapless Continuous Heart Rate Monitor Watch
Wendy Bumgardner © 2013
If you step up the Mio line to the Mio Alpha, you get a stylish continuous pulse monitor with alerts for your chosen heart rate limits. It uses light sensors to track your pulse continuously, you don't need to press your finger on a a sensor. It transmits its data via Bluetooth or ANT+ to mobile apps such as MapMyWalk, Endomondo, Wahoo Fitness, etc. You can use the apps to track your heart rate throughout your workout and save your workout data. On the Alpha itself you can see your heart rate beats per minute, a colored light to indicate if you are in the right zone, a stopwatch, and the time of day during your workout. But it only saves the last workout on the Alpha itself. The main drawback is that it is expensive.

5. Gaiam Touch ECG Strapless Heart Rate Monitor SE338

Gaiam Touch Strapless Heart Rate Monitor
Courtesy of Pricegrabber
This button-free strapless pulse monitor watch is easy to read and easy to use. The watch has a soft silicone strap and big number display. Touch the bezel when you want to take a heart rate reading. You can set heart rate zone alerts. It also times your exercise session and gives you a calorie readout. It does not come with a chest strap heart rate monitor belt.
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6. Sportline Pulse Pedometer 355

Sportline Pulse Pedometer 355
Courtesy of Pricegrabber

Take your pulse with one finger on the sensor. I had no luck in getting a steady pulse with this unit, so try before you buy, it may work for you. It has great pedometer features, it counts steps, distance, calories, has a stopwatch and countdown timer and big display.

7. Oregon Scientific Pedometer

The Oregon Scientific PE316PM counts your steps and calculates distance and calories. It also has a clock. You can take your pulse with the pulse meter by pressing a finger to a button. The front cover shields the buttons from accidental resetting. Has a backlight.

8. Omron HR-500U Continuous Pulse Monitor

Omron HR-500U Strapless Heart Rate Monitor
Wendy Bumgardner © 2013
Like the Mio Alpha, the Omron HR-500U continuously reads your pulse using light sensors on the back of the wrist unit. You don't need to press your fingers against a sensor, you can see your heart rate throughout your work9out. It automatically determines your heart rate zones and displays your pulse and a colored light indicator of which zone you are in while you workout. It also displays your pace and distance for the workout you are tracking, and uploads the totals to the Omron Fitness Dashboard if you plug it into your computer after your workout. However, you only see your totals after the workout, not a full minute-by-minute display. And it doesn't have Bluetooth or ANT+ integration like the Mio Alpha.

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