Pairing your Bluetooth Low Energy Heart Rate Monitor – iOS

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Fitdigits is compatible with the Polar H7 and a bevy of other Bluetooth Low Energy (aka BLE / Bluetooth 4.0) sensors, including the Zephyr HXM and Wahoo Blue HRM and hundreds more.

When it comes to Heart Rate Monitors (HRMs), it is essential to make a gentle first contact; do not make any sudden movements as to scare it. There are many different types, they all react a little differently. There is the chest strap, and electrode-based type, which is a great, accurate solution that can last for a long, long time but also has it’s comfort and use drawbacks. That is the traditional HRM.

There are optical solutions such as the Scosche Rhythm + which sits on the arm, the Mio line of wrist based, or the new opticals now coming out in earbuds, bike helmets and sweatbands. Seems if you can see blood, there will be a way to get heart rate from it!

That said, many of the cheap daily activity monitors that claim also to have Heart Rate support, are not compatible because they are not to BLE/Bluetooth Smart specifications or, like Fitbit, decided to keep the HR proprietary thus they did not build the ability for others to pair for HR.

Pairing is very easy. Deleting a current pairing is also super easy. I would recommend, just to get comfortable with the process, the first time you pair your HRM you delete it and then repair just again. Practice makes perfect Mom always said.

If you haven’t already, download the Fitdigits app, and upgrade in-app to support the heart rate monitor functionality and more. All apps have the same functionality but different messaging and graphics in areas.

Downloads

iCardio Apps iRunner Apps iBiker Apps iWalker Apps
Fitdigits iCardio app for Apple iOS Fitdigits iRunner app for Apple iOS Fitdigits iBiker app for Apple iOS Fitdigits iWalker app for Apple iOS
Fitdigits iCardio app for Android Fitdigits iRunner app for Android Fitdigits iBiker app for Android Fitdigits iWalker app for Android

 

Pairing Your Heart Rate Monitor

  1. Make sure the heart rate monitor is on and turned on with heart rate
    1. Optical HRMs: Typically there are green flashing lights from most optical HRMs as they try and read your heart rate (check the back of your Mio or Apple Watch, etc).
    2. Chest Straps: Dab water, saliva, or gel onto the underside of the electrode receivers on the strap to strengthen the electrode connection (it conducts when wet, sometimes initially there isn’t enough sweat to get it to pick up). You want to create real chemistry between you and the belt. Next, put the strap on, placing it on your bare skin on the top of your ribcage right below your chest. Make sure it is snug enough not to bounce around much during exercise. Check that the peanut (the plastic monitor part) is right-side up and properly snapped into the belt.
    3. Open your Fitdigits app. Tap Menu > Sensors.
    4. Turn ON the option next to Bluetooth Smart in the Heart Rate Monitors section
    5. Once it has connected with the heart rate monitor you are ready to workout with your Bluetooth Heart rate monitor!

After pairing, the sensor will show in the Paired Sensors section below the Add a Sensor section. You can use the on-off switch anytime you want to not use the HRM, but you don’t want to delete the pairing (like if you forget your HRM).

Tapping on the name of the sensor will bring you to the Sensor detail page, where you can see more information on the sensor or tap Delete to delete it from there.

Start a workout wearing your HRM and you are ready to finally realize your health and fitness destiny! When you are ready, read more on doing custom Fitness Assessments to get your custom heart rate zones, and why that is so important and effective in your own personal journey to health and fitness.

Deleting a Paired Sensor

  1. Tap Menu > Sensors
  2. Tap the name of the paired HRM
  3. Tap Delete

 

Pairing a BLE heart rate monitor with Fitdigits apps

Pairing a BLE heart rate monitor with Fitdigits apps

 

Troubleshooting

Try these initial steps if you are experiencing difficulties pairing, or these other articles for issues such as heart rate spikes or dropouts or general compatibility.

  • Chest Straps: Wet the electrodes on the belt part (which touches your skin) with water or saliva on the chest strap heart rate monitor to increase connectivity.
  • Optical HRMs: Make sure the green lights / receptors are pulsing in the part next to your skin.
  • Reset Bluetooth: Go to the Android Settings and turn off Bluetooth. Wait a few seconds then turn it back on.
  • Manually Close Your App: Exit the app and then double tap the iPhone home button. Look for the multitasking window to appear at the bottom of your screen. Tap and hold the Fitdigits icon to make a little red circle (minus sign) appear on all the apps. Then tap the little red circle for Fitdigits. Your app has now been manually closed. Relaunch the app and try pairing again.
  • Reboot: When in doubt, never hurts to reboot your phone/tablet.
If you still cannot pair with your Bluetooth HRM, check out the complete 

HRM pairing troubleshooting tips

Using the Beginner Cardio Assessment

By setting Zones customized to your body, heart, and systems, you get a true view of your level of effort you are currently training or exercising in, which allows you to train better, without injury over longer times.

The Beginner Cardio Assessment is a very entry level test, mostly helpful for determining your lower Heart Rate Zones. It is not designed for people who are in great shape and are exercising on a regular basis (4 hours or more per week).

With a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) you can use it to develop Heart Rate Training Zones. With GPS and/or Foot pod in Running, it can be used to develop Pace Zones too.

It can be completed on just about any workout type, and to develop specific custom zones for any given workout type, it should be done using that type of exercise. Fitdigits offers users the ability to use different heart rate zones depending on their activity selection.

To calculate a more accurate VO2 Max, you should have a Resting Pulse entry in the Health section of the app (one not taken from a Blood Pressure reading). See this post on measuring your Resting Heart Rate. Otherwise, we will use an approximation of your Resting Heart Rate based on the measured value from the assessment.

How to Complete the Beginner Cardio Assessment:

  • You will need to be on a treadmill, spin bike, elliptical machine, or a flat surface you can run or ride on for more than 7.5 minutes. DON’T GO TOO FAST!
  • Bring your heart rate down to a low, resting rate by staying still for a moment and just relaxing.
  • Start the assessment on the App – Choose the Activity Type you are doing > Workout > Beginner Cardio Assessment
  • You will be coached through a series of effort levels, starting with resting and moving up through to approximately a 65-75% effort level over a 7.5 minute period
  • The Recovery portion will begin (recovery is an option we’ve added here as another data point to assess your overall change in fitness)
  • Be still and relax for the 2-minute recovery time
  • You will be shown your results on the final screen, as well as online and in your results listing

The Beginner Cardio Assessment helps determine Heart and Pace Zones, which can help your training and keep you injury free by keeping your training in the right zones at the right times. You can watch these zones change over time with changes in your fitness! In fact, this assessment should be used on a regular basis to show changes in your fitness levels and training zones.

How We Calculate Zones and VO2 Max:
Heart Rate Zones are determined using the measurements from the assessment, assuming that max effort reached 75% of the true maximum achievable (for saftey). For Heart Rate zones, the Karvonen method is applied to the readings (recorded Resting Heart Rate trumps the in-assessment measured Resting Heart Rate). For VO2 Max, we take your Resting Heart Rate and your calculated Max HR, and apply the Heart Rate Ratio Method. (Eur J Appl Physiol. 2004).

Many factors can influence results including temperature, elevation, sleep, emotional state, eating habits and more. The best analysis of the results are by comparing it with previous results. The test environment should remain as constant as possible.

Please don’t perform any fitness test without talking to your physician about it first.

Assessments can change the way you live your life, change the way you exercise because:

1. They help determine your Fitness Level.

Using physical tests developed over the years by a variety of individuals and institutions, these fitness tests have been shown to result in fairly accurate measures of fitness, and can be compared to others of similar age and gender. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to determine VO2 Max, but the majority do.
See the article “Why Should You Know (and Track) Your Fitness Level?” for more.

2. They help determine personal heart zones.
People are all different. Only 20% of people have a max heart rate that is close to the 220-Age = Max HR. For a large majority, setting zones of 50%-100% off that formula does not result in zones that are meaningful or correct. From previous discussions, we know how important understanding what HR zone you are in can be towards realizing your goals (is your goal endurance and fat burn, or speed and power, for example). Your HR zones will also change over time – the more fit you become, the higher your HR Max will be (relative to yourself, not others) for example. Not all assessments in Fitdigits apps have the ability to set HR zones, but the majority do when paired with a heart rate monitor.
See the article “Why Should You Know Your Personal Heart Rate Zones?” for more.

Troubleshooting Your Heart Rate Monitor & Other Sensors

#1 Issue – Low Battery 

Test the battery, and if necessary replace it. Low battery can cause strange data including abnormally high or low readings. Within our app, after changing the battery, you will need to trash the sensor and pair again. If battery replacement does not fix your issue, try the following tips:

Polar H7 or Other BLE (Bluetooth Smart / Bluetooth Low Energy / Bluetooth 4.0) Compatible Heart Rate Monitor

  • Paired With Another iPhone : Make sure no other iPhone is currently connected and communicating with your BLE heart rate monitor. If the heart rate monitor is paired with another iPhone, you will not be able to use the HRM
  • Close Other Paired Apps: If there are any other apps on your iPhone that are communicating with your BLE heart rate monitor, terminate them. The HRM will only be able to pair with one fitness app at a time.
  • Lots More Tips:

Troubleshoot Your Bluetooth Low Energy Heart Rate Monitor (BLE HRM).

Spikes or dropouts? See here.

Scosche Rhythm+ Heart Rate Monitor

Foot Pod (iOS)

  • Activate: Tap your foot in a running motion to activate the foot pod.
  • Installation: Ensure the arrow on the foot pod is facing your toes.

Speed and Cadence Sensors (iOS)

  • Activate: Rotate the pedals a few times to activate the sensor before pairing
  • Choose Sensor: If you are using a Spin Bike make sure you are using a Cadence Sensor. For an outdoor bike, use a Speed and Cadence Senso
  • Installation: Proper installation including positioning of your spoke and pedal magnet as well as the arm distance from spokes is very important.

Note: It has been reported that some HRMs, such as the Wahoo TICKR belt, might have issues due to the belt having both cadence and heart rate. Trying to pair cadence sensor after pairing the HRM caused trouble. The solution was to pair the cadence sensor first, then the heart rate monitor.

If you are still experiencing difficulty, please contact Customer Support

Fitdigits Helped Me Lose 44 Pounds by Walt R.

Testimonial from Fitdigits User – Walt R.

Let me start out my saying that I have battled a weight issue for many years, after trying many diets and national weight loss programs. I came across a Chiropractic Clinic near my home that advertised a “Mind, Body, and Soul” approach to health and wellness. I called and set up an appointment for an evaluation with the Nutritionist Diane to learn more about their program. Diane went very carefully through the 12 week program and explained that by changing my eating habits and exercising I would lose weight and regain a healthier lifestyle. Well as anyone knows who has attempted to lose weight I had heard it all before.

Something about this approach seemed very different now that I had a Nutritionist and a Personal Trainer for $5.00 per day; about the cost of a fancy coffee at Starbucks. I started the program on April 7th and have lost over 45 lbs., an average of about 3 pounds per week.

Two weeks into the nutritional phase I was introduced to Laurie the fitness trainer; She did a V02 stress test on me to calculate my present fitness level and weighed me and discussed how to approach my weight issues.

Laurie suggested I get a heart rate monitor belt that would sync to my iPhone with a fitness program called Fitdigits. Without a doubt this is the greatest program I have ever experienced; my daily workouts are sent via e-mail every day so I get my workouts in at my convenience while reporting my progress back to my trainer who monitors my progress each day. The program is very flexible; it also allows you to customize your workouts if you’re not working with a fitness expert and will provide information on actual and predicted calories burned.

Fitdigits has been the major factor in my success, as I get ready to start my second 12 weeks I will be relying on Fitdigits to keep me on track.

Fitdigits and Marathon Training

Testimonial from Fitdigits User – Robert C.

I have been using Fitdigits with a Garmin heart rate monitor and foot pod on my iPod touch for 6 months while in training to complete a marathon. Fitdigits gives me heart rate, pace, distance and a map of my run.

I am 60 years old and have not trained seriously for 20 years. My training goals are to follow a prescribed training plan of increasing weekly mileage to push my endurance without a “deal breaking” injury. So far, Fitdigits has been a great help in achieving my non-injury/endurance goal while giving me a side benefit of making my runs more enjoyable.

Fitdigits heart monitor helps me smooth out my workouts by allowing me to continually monitor my heart to self reduce both the rate and variability. By staying calm with controlled breathing, I can lower my heart rate (about six beats per minute) which reduces the effort as I cover more miles. This I believe has helped both avoid injury and improve recovery time from the predictable aches and pains.

Also, my workouts have become more enjoyable because I no longer watching the clock. Now I am tracking my heart rate against distance and continually making the workout a better experience by staying “smooth.”

Another related benefit is the ability to share my workout summaries with my doctor in my physical exams. He avidly supports my efforts and is delighted to see that my heart is strong.

I will continue to use this tool as I move beyond the marathon training.  I believe its uses and benefits will only increase for me.

I recommend Fitdigits for other Baby Boomers who are active and want to improve their physical stamina.

-Robert C., Fitdigits User
(Waukesha, WI)

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Why monitor heart rates in your iPhone fitness and health app?

I recently came across a website, jackis.com, that did a nice job of highlighting three good reasons to track heart rate: safety, effectiveness and incentive. I would suggest one more accuracy. If you want accurate an accurate calculation of calories burned during your workout, it needs to be derived from your heart rate.

From jackis.com: One of the goals of your aerobic workout is to improve your cardiovascular fitness.   Heart rates taken during exercise indicate how hard your heart is working.  Your heart rate is actually a motivating friend when you learn to monitor it properly, for this allows you to objectively detect beneficial changes that you can’t otherwise see.

The benefits of monitoring your heart rate are:

Safety. The heart rate is a gauge by which to assess the intensity of your workout to make sure you’re not overexerting or overextending yourself.  For example, if your heart rate is above your working heart rate range, it’s telling you to slow down a little and use fewer arm movements.

Effectiveness. If your heart rate indicates you’re not working hard enough, then you can work out a little more vigorously to maximize the effectiveness of your workout.  To maximize your aerobic workout, you need to stay in your working heart rate range for at least 20 to 30 minutes continuously.

Incentive. By monitoring your heart rate from week to week as you participate in an aerobic activity, you’ll discover that you will be able to exercise at a higher level of intensity, but at the same or lower heart rate.  This is the way the heart tells you it is becoming stronger and more efficient.  When you see positive results, it will motivate you to strive for even better results.

Fitdigits Alarms Helped Regulate My Heart Rate

Testimonial from Fitdigits User – Dorothy C.

I am 61-years old and went to my doctor because of heart palpitations. My blood pressure was up and my doctor scheduled a treadmill stress test. Everything checked out OK but my doctor insisted I use medication to lower my blood pressure. I convinced her to let me try to control my blood pressure and heart rate with diet and exercise first instead of using medication. She agreed to give me a few weeks.

I started running the next day but whenever I ran my heart rate would go up very fast and very high and I was concerned it was too high. Then, Fitdigits Connect and iRunner confirmed that my heart rate was spiking very quickly. I started using the audible alarms to warn me when it was happening instead of viewing it after my workout. Whenever the little cowbell would ring, I would slow it down slightly. Eventually, my endurance got better and I heard the alarm less and less. I’m able to run longer and faster as a result of my training and next month I plan to participate in my first race: relay marathon.

iRunner stores all my data so I am able to look back and see my progress from the beginning. When I go for my next check-up which will be in a few weeks, I plan to take iRunner with me to show my doctor the results of my workouts. The graphs that are provided show a quick visual of my data. Fitdigits has made my workouts fun, I look forward to exercising and I’m so excited about my progress.

-Dorothy C., Fitdigits User
(Palmyra, WI)

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Rehab It with Fitdigits

Testimonial from Fitdigits User – Allen N.

My story may be similar to many other people that are looking for ways to increase their cardiovascular health or general physical condition. This story has been many years in the making and has many chapters that cover a multiple of activities that have produced many different levels of physical conditioning. However, the latest chapter is the most significant. One often regains important focus when life is threatened, as mine was.

The day before Christmas 2009, a scant three months after turning 60 years old, I was in my driveway shoveling fresh snow. This is something I always did as quickly as I could. I always took pride at the fact that my driveway was normally cleared before any of my neighbors. This morning was going to be different. Five minutes into the task at hand, I started feeling some tightness in my chest and throat and was a bit short of breath. I stopped shoveling and rested for a bit and continued. This feeling reoccurred several times before I went in the house, leaving the driveway only partly cleared of snow. With encouragement from my wife, I remained in the house and didn’t have any more problems. The next day was Christmas, family was scheduled to come by and the driveway was cleared by two of my son-in-laws.

Mid January found me in the doctor’s office getting checked out. Through a series of tests, that spanned several weeks, my doctor rendered his report. First on his list was my weight, 219 pounds. Now, I will be the first to admit that I was too heavy. However, my rational was that because of my history of weight lifting and strength training, I had maintained my body weight at 210 to 215 for the last twenty years, so 219 was fine. At 5’ 10” and 60 years old, 219 is not fine, it was part of the recipe for disaster that was just around the corner of my life. Had all the rest of my indicators been fine, the weight may not have been that big of a deal. Here’s the rest of the story: a history of high blood pressure and on medication since 1998. Blood chemistry test bore additional bad news: LDL cholesterol at 133, not all that bad, HDL was too low at 34 and the total cholesterol was over the top at 241. Triglycerides were way out of line at 371, which put my CHD risk factor at 7.1, 2.6 points above desirable levels. My glucose came in at 122, which indicated impaired fasting glucose. Needless to say, my doctor was rather firm with me regarding my diet.

Because of these numbers and my recent chest discomfort, he scheduled an EKG followed by a stress test. These tests and an additional stress test concluded the need for a Coronary Angioplasty. As I was being prepared for this procedure, I was told that if any blockages were found, they would be taken care of with a stent and anything more serious would be taken care of in another hospital in their system. The angioplasty did find two blockages, one 90% in a major artery and the other 80% in a minor artery. A clot was also found which was destroyed with a drug that was interesting. Two stents were inserted to open the blockage and the problem was solved.

Now the hard work started. I determined that I would do my own rehab work and purchased a treadmill. I received my personal training certification in 1991 and have been in many different training environments over the years. My focus has always been upon strength training so I was never concerned with my weight or diet. I also did a short tour of duty at a rehab facility in Texas where I worked with many folks with heart conditions like mine. Why I didn’t do more cardiovascular fitness training will also be a good question. However, I put together a progressive program but needed to monitor my heart rate in a very positive manner. I went to the local sporting goods store and picked up what I thought was a good monitoring system, and for what I paid, it should have done the job. I wasn’t satisfied and began an online search for something better. I came upon the Fitdigits System that was designed to be used by the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. After talking to a very knowledgeable person on their sales staff, I bought it. I started using Fitdigits Connect and iRunner immediately and quickly determined that this tool was exactly what I needed to make sure that I could meet my training goals and do it within the limits of my cardiac health.

Now the good news. Sixty days later I’m back in the doctor’s office, the scales read 185 pounds. My blood pressure is near normal, where it was high and lowered with medications. Another blood sample was taken and the results blew me away. LDL is now 96, HDL at 36, total cholesterol was 147, my CHD risk factor is now 4.1 which is .4 points to the good side of desirable. The big gain was the triglycerides, 77 as opposed to 371. Finally, my glucose dropped from 122 to 88, well into the normal range.

I’m still working hard to improve my overall level of fitness. I’m doing my treadmill work every other day and working on my strength training on my non cardio days. My goal is to get totally off my blood pressure meds, reduce my body fat to as close at 10% as I can get it and increase my cardio endurance steadily using the Fitdigits system to monitor and track my progress.

I want to thank the staff at Fitdigits for their commitment to developing a wonderful and useful tool for people like me. My thanks also to Kelly Lazarus, who convinced me that I needed the Fitdigits heart rate monitor, she was right. I can now look forward to many more years of healthy living and for that I will always be grateful.

-Allen N., Fitdigits User
(Kansas City, MO)

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