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Fitness equipment typically offers heart-rate measurement, which is great for efficient weight loss, improving fitness for your favorite sport, exercising safely, and bettering your general cardiovascular health. Heart rate is monitored by contact and/or wireless telemetry. While the latter is considered more accurate, each system has advantages. Here’s a quick primer.

Contact heart-rate monitoring utilizes hand sensors in the handrail or handlebar. You grip the sensors for several seconds and your heart rate is shown on the console display in beats per minute. Contact heart rate is a good choice if you don’t have or don’t like to wear a heart-rate chest strap.

Wireless telemetry heart-rate monitoring utilizes a chest strap that you wear that reads your heart rate and transmits a radio frequency to show your heart rate on the machine’s console display. In addition to being more accurate, the wireless system is hands-free, and it allows your heart rate to be constantly displayed (since it doesn’t rely on sensors that you have to hold). This constant monitoring is especially useful for heart-rate control programs, in which the exercise equipment makes intensity adjustments to maintain or vary your heart rate at particular training zones.