Beyond snappy shoes and fashionable workout gear — which are absolute musts, duh — there’s one fitness expenditure I’d recommend wholeheartedly… and that’s to spend some cash on a quality heart rate monitor. It’s a tool that will change the way you work out.
Here’s my Polar A360 review.
Polar A360 review
I’ve had my Polar A360 heart rate monitor for 8 months now and I can’t imagine workouts without it. But it’s not my first heart rate monitor.
Years ago, I had a Polar heart rate monitor and found it really useful. I liked knowing how hard I was working at the gym and it soon became my favorite training tool. At the time, the technology required a snap-on elastic chest strap for an accurate heart rate readout. As time passed, I began using it less and less because I found the chest strap to be a pain in the you know what. So for for years now, I’ve been sans heart rate monitor and I’m so glad I changed that.
Earlier this year, my interest in a heart rate monitor was reignited when an acquaintance at the gym showed me his Polar A360. It was perfect for keeping track of your workout activity and I was intrigued. There are many wrist-based heart rate monitors out there and this one seemed to be a perfect fit for my needs. So I bought it.
Heart rate monitors are an excellent tool. For anyone unfamiliar, they’re watch-like wristbands (some with a chest strap) that track activity and heart rate. It’s as simple as that.
Some have more advanced functionality and others are more bare bones. For me, the Polar A360 was exactly what I was looking for and I’m extremely happy with it. I feel naked if I forget to put it on.
What I was looking for in a heart rate monitor:
- Wrist-based heart rate monitor that was accurate without an annoying chest strap. In my experience, chest straps were a pain to have to hand wash and dry and they were often uncomfortable during the workout and would slip down. I’m sure that functionality has improved since I had one but just didn’t want to deal with a chest strap of any kind.
- Heart rate readout as main focus on screen, so something simple to use for heart rate training. I didn’t just want an activity tracker but something that would do heart rate training stats. The main use would be during workouts at the gym and home.
- Can link to an app on my phone to see stats at a glance.
- No need for GPS or anything too fancy. My workouts are indoors 90% of the time.
- Nothing too bulky on the wrist.
- Reasonably priced.
The Polar A360 was a perfect fit and met all of the criteria above.
Benefits of a heart rate monitor
A heart rate monitor/activity tracker will hold you accountable and show you in simple numbers how active (or inactive) you are. Are you in a class that’s supposed to be kicking your butt but you’ve barely broken a sweat? Are you working too hard? Your stats don’t lie. It’s a fabulous tool to gauge how effective you workouts are and evaluate your level of cardiovascular fitness.
It keeps you active. I find myself working harder because I know I have an activity goal to hit each day and I want to hit 100%. If I’m not giving it my all at the gym, I step it up. It also lets you know when you’ve been inactive for too long via a gentle wrist vibration. Time to get up and move!
Shows your ability to recover. After a huge effort, a heart rate monitor can show you how fast you recover, which is an important training tool.
Tracks progress. With the Polar Flow app, you can store months’ worth of data and can track your efforts over time. Have you been consistent? Has your fitness improved? Was this week’s cycling workout as effective as last week’s? It’s nice to have your stats accessible in a matter of seconds.
How does the Polar A360 work?
Before using the watch, you set up your profile online with things like height, weight, activity level, and download the Polar Flow app to your phone. You then pair the watch to your phone. Once it’s set up, everything is done via a button on the side of the watch and the touchscreen, which then syncs to your phone.
To start tracking a workout with heart rate, you simply tighten the band so the wrist sensor can pick up your heart rate.
Then I choose my activity from the training menu on the watch, wait a few seconds for my heart rate to appear on the touchscreen, select it with a simple touch, and boom. My workout has started.
While exercising, the watch keeps track of my heart rate and will sync it to the Polar Flow app on my phone automatically. When done, you end your workout with the simple touch of a button on the watch.
The Polar A360 also tracks your overall active time even when you aren’t doing a training session. Walking the dog? Cleaning? Running errands? All of that active time adds up and will get you closer to 100% of your daily goal.
About the Polar Flow app stats
I was never a stats geek, but I think I’m slowly turning into one. I look forward to checking out my stats after a workout and love when I hit 100% of my daily activity.
So let’s check out these stats…
Your workout is split up into 5 training zones that are color coded from gray to red. The zones are based on percentages of your maximum heart rate which is calculated from your personal info. After each session, you can see how long you were in each zone and if your workout helped you build endurance, burn fat, or provided some other training benefit.
In addition, the Polar A360 tracks steps, distance, calories burned, sleep quality, and activity 24/7. I give my wrist a break and don’t wear mine when I sleep, though.
Here’s an example day as shown on the Polar Flow app along with training stats from my Les Mills RPM cycling class:
The left-most photo shows my entire day at a glance. The different shades of blue/gray/white represent different activity levels for when you’re not in an active training session. The little red circle with a person on a bike represents a training session that you can see more about in the two photos to the right.
The training stats break down heart rate, calorie burn, times in each zone, etc.
Something I found out when on vacation in Florida is that it works in the pool as well. The Polar A360 is water resistant up to 30 meters (although Polar says the heart rate readout might not always be accurate in water, I didn’t have any problems).
After each workout, you wipe down the watch and band. The watch face easily snaps in and out of the band for cleaning. Every 3-4 days, I charge the watch via a USB cable. You can also choose from a variety of color options and sizes for the band. I have two bands: black and white.
A few Polar A360 drawbacks
It’s not the cheapest heart rate monitor out there, but if you’re serious about fitness and see the benefit of the watch, it’s a small price to pay for such a great tool that you wear daily. It first came out a couple of years ago and is now only US$130 on Amazon.
Wrist-based heart rate monitors sometimes lag by a few seconds. This means the readout isn’t 100% in real time like it would be with a chest strap that picks up the heart rate directly from the heart. This makes sense when you think about it because your heart has to pump blood all the way to your wrist. Sometimes I notice the lag here and there (more if I’m lying down or have hands above head) but it’s not a major issue or something that interferes with my overall stats.
The step count isn’t always right. I find the iPhone distance tracker to be more accurate than the Polar A360. This isn’t a problem, though, because I don’t use my heart rate monitor to track steps. It’s primarily a heart rate tool for me.
The Bluetooth is finicky sometimes, but that’s tech for you. It took me a few tries to pair the watch to my phone, and once in a while, it won’t sync so I’ll have to turn my Bluetooth off and try again. Nothing too problematic though that couldn’t be resolved in a minute or two of extra work.
I think heart rate monitors are great training tools and am super satisfied with my Polar A360. The Polar Flow app is easy to use and full of interesting data. I’d recommend this heart rate monitor to serious exercisers looking to get more out of their workouts.
Thanks for reading my Polar A360 review! Have you used a heart rate monitor or activity tracker before? Tell me about it in the comments!
Check it out on Amazon here.
Disclosure: This is not sponsored. I bought my Polar A360 with my own money.