Eat Lightly, Breathe Deeply, Live Moderately

Polar F7 = Love

Posted on: April 19, 2010

I just got my Polar F7 watch on Saturday and Sunday morning was my first time using it.

For those reading this who don’t know: Polar makes heart-rate monitor watches. Why would someone want a heart-rate monitor watch, you ask? For exercise! I have a heart condition, while not serious, it’s worth monitoring my heart rate and making sure that I don’t go over my limits. Also– a heart rate monitor is one of the most accurate ways to calculate calories burned during a workout. So, for someone who loves working out, and likes to keep track of progress– a heart rate monitor is a great way to go.

First impressions:

The silver watch is pretty big on my wrist. I’m 5’2″ and 123 lbs. While I’m not the smallest person you’ll meet, I’m pretty thin. The face of the watch is the width of my wrist. When I put it on for the first time I was very shocked by the size, even though I was expecting it to be large. After two days of wearing it constantly I’ve gotten used to the size and it even looks small sometimes.

I love the look of it. The grey color is nice and neutral with a clean look and a pretty feminine blue and grey design framing the screen. The buttons are big enough and easy to use. My only complaint, which is a complaint I’ve had with every watch I’ve ever owned, is that my wrist size lives between two notches. One notch is a little too tight, and if I move it to the next one, it’s flying around my wrist. Though it’s better than any other watch I’ve ever had.

On the back of the watch you see some basic stuff, the serial number, brand, model, etc. Also the markings indicating that the watch is water resistant up to 50m. According to Polar, that makes it suitable for bathing and swimming but not snorkeling or scuba diving.

Functionality:

So the way it works is pretty neat. The watch comes with a chest band. This band has two strips of “electrodes” that go against your body, and a “Wearlink Transmitter” that snaps onto the front of it. You wet the electrodes with running water and strap the band around your chest. Snap the Transmitter on and you’re good to go. Once you start exercising, press the “OK” button on the watch twice to begin your exercise. It keeps track of exercise time, your heart rate and calories burned. At the end of a work out you get a summary screen that tells you how many calories you burned, your total exercise time, and your max and average heart rates.

There are buttons on the watch for backlight, back (so you can pause or exit your work out) and to change the view. The various views during exercise are Calories, Own Zone- which tells you where your heart rate is in the proper zone, and exercise time. In each view you will also see your heart rate.

One of my favorite things to do for exercise is spin class, and in spin class it’s not always easy to take both hands off the handlebars in order to press a button and look at your watch. What I love about the Polar watch is that if I move my hand up to my chest, putting the watch close to the chest trap and the wireless transmitter, the watch lights up, tells me the time and then switches back to calories before the backlight turns off. This made using the watch during exercise so much easier. I could quickly move my arm, look at the watch, and then put my hands back into place. No fiddling around with buttons or settings. Quick and easy.

The trial:

Yesterday was my first time using the watch at the gym, and I wore it for two classes: RPM and BodyFlow. During RPM I kept track of my heart rate (which maxed out around 190, and averaged at 160) and calories burned. In just over an hour I burned 550 calories during the spin class. Not bad! I then went to BodyFlow where I burned another 216 calories for a grand total for the day of 766. During exercise I never pressed any buttons. I would occasionally move the watch near the transmitter so it would light up and I could see the time and calories burned so far, and I loved that I could quickly do that without pressing anything.

I wore the watch in the shower to test out the water resistance, and as expected, it worked just fine. I think it’s kind of strange to wear the chest band and watch swimming, but seeing as I can’t swim very well, let alone do it for any sort of exercise, I don’t see that being an issue for me. 😛

I also used the timer on the watch while I was cooking dinner last night. 🙂

The Verdict:

Definitely worth the money. I was in the market for a new every day watch anyway, and though it is bulky and not exactly “professional looking” I am using it as just that. The exercise functionality is great and the chest band is extremely comfortable. I may purchase the sports bra with the transmitter attachment, but at this point I don’t see a real need for the extra investment. The chest band works just great for me now. The only things that make me a bit unhappy are that if the battery needs to be replaced, the watch has to be sent back to Polar for them to replace it in order to ensure the water resistance, which could take several weeks. Also– they have software that allows the watch to sync with your computer to track your exercise data, but it does not work for Mac. For someone like me with 4 Macs in the house at home with no PCs, this is really a letdown.

All in all, a great product and definitely something I’ll be using daily.

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