Did you know that the heart beats more than 100,000 times a day? One of the most important organs in the body, it not only distributes blood to the tissues but also removes waste products such as carbon dioxide. The stronger your heart, the more blood it’ll be able to pump. In other words, it won’t have to beat as fast, which will lower your blood pressure.
Like most organs, however, the heart can be affected by illness. Take arrhythmias, for example—they occur when the heart beats too fast or too slow or with an irregular rhythm. Other common heart conditions include coronary artery disease, heart failure, and valvular heart disease.
How Exercise Affects the Heart
Exercise is one of the best things that you can do for your heart. It makes it stronger and more efficient so that it’s better able to pump blood throughout the body. Put it simply, it will have a reduced workload. As you exercise, it will start to contract faster—this allows oxygenated blood to reach your muscles quickly. As the demand for blood increases, the heart will continue to beat faster.
Benefit-wise, it not only decreases your resting heart rate, but it also reduces your blood pressure and cholesterol. On top of that, it can improve your circulation and blood flow. As if that’s not great enough, exercise can also decrease the risk of certain ailments such as diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
Monitoring Your Heart Rate
Monitoring your heart rate is one of the best ways to gauge the effectiveness of your workout. It offers an insight as to how well your cardiovascular system is working. Put it this way—it’ll let you know how fit you really are. For example, you can see how fast your heart is beating and how long it takes for it to return to normal after the activity. This allows you to measure and track improvements over time. In addition to that, it helps you pace yourself—that is, you can target specific heart rate zones if you want to.
Choosing a Heart Rate Monitor
There are various types of heart rate monitors out there. While they all essentially do the same thing, they do differ in a few ways. For example, some use sensors that are located on the wrist whereas others use sensors on the chest (the latter is generally more accurate). Some fancier models also come with extra features (e.g. GPS capabilities, navigation functionality, etc). At the end of the day, however, they’re not a must-have. If anything, the most important thing that you want to consider is its accuracy.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing on chest-worn sensors.
How do Chest Heart Rate Monitors work?
These devices consist of two parts—a transmitter that’s attached to a chest strap and a receiver that’s worn on the wrist. As the heart beats, the transmitter picks up the electrical activity and sends it to the wrist receiver as an electromagnetic signal. The information is then displayed on a screen for you to see. In some cases, you might be able to connect the receiver with a companion app.
Keeping the Chest Straps Clean
It’s important that you wear your chest strap properly, otherwise, you might get inaccurate results. Generally speaking, you want it to make direct contact with the skin under the chest. Make sure that it’s snug enough so that it won’t move around while you’re exercising. Too loose and the sensor also won’t be able to detect the signals properly.
Given how close-fitting the strap is, it’s not surprising to know that it can come into contact with sweat. After all, you’ll be moving around! For this reason, you want to make sure to clean it on a regular basis. The last thing that you want is to keep wearing a sweat-soaked strap—that’ll only be bad for your skin! Fortunately, they’re not that difficult to clean at all. If anything, you can treat them like any other sportswear item. That’s right, you just use soap and water.
Need more guidance? We’ll be going over the exact steps below!
Are Heart Rate Monitor Straps Machine Washable?
Most straps are made from a durable, synthetic material. In other words, yes, they can be put in the washing machine—just make sure to remove the device beforehand. Assuming that they contain velcro (which most do), you’ll want to close them first. It’s highly recommended that you put them in a mesh laundry bag—that will prevent them from being tossed around, which can wear out the fastener. It’s fine to wash them with other items as long as you’re not mixing lights and darks. For the best results, put them in the same load as activewear.
Once you’ve put the straps in (in a laundry bag), set the settings on the machine. As a general rule, you want to opt for a gentle or delicate cycle. Cold water is best as heat can cause some materials to shrink—and that’s definitely not what you want. Next, add in the detergent. ACTIVE detergent is ideal as it’s specially formulated to remove sweat from fibers. Amount-wise, one scoop should suffice (unless you’re washing the straps with a large load of clothes).
Pro-tip: Fabric softeners are generally unnecessary. In fact, they can do more harm than good to your straps and clothes. Consider using white vinegar instead.
Press “start” and let the wash cycle run. Once it’s finished, take out the straps. Remove them from the laundry bag and hang them up in a well-ventilated area to air dry. Do not put them in the dryer—the heat can damage the straps and velcro. Make sure that they’re fully dry before reattaching the heart rate monitor. Given how thin the material is, it shouldn’t take that long for the straps to dry.
How to Wash Heart Rate Monitor Straps by Hand
You can also wash heart rate monitor straps by hand. In fact, it might be the easiest option. For one thing, you won’t have to worry about inputting the proper settings on the machine. Done properly, it’ll also be more gentle, which means that your straps will last longer!
The first step is to fill the sink with water. You can also use a bucket or a small tub if you wish. Make sure that it’s not filled up too high or you’ll risk spilling the water later on. Once the water’s in, add the soap. One scoop of ACTIVE detergent will do the trick. Don’t just add it in and put your straps in, though. You want to dissolve the powder first. You can do this by mixing the water with your hand. You’ll know when it’s ready as you’ll start to see soap suds.
Place your heart rate monitor strap into the soapy water. It’s important that it’s fully submerged, otherwise, it won’t be cleaned properly. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes (longer is fine too)—that will give the ACTIVE detergent time to lift and remove the sweat from the material. From there, you might want to give the straps a gentle rub with your fingers. That will help remove any sweat that might still be present on the straps.
Once you’ve done that, rinse it clean with water. You can either put it under the faucet so that the water will come into direct contact with it, or you can refill the sink/tub with clean water and rinse it that way. Either way, the goal is to get rid of all the detergent. You do not want there to be any leftover on the straps as that can irritate your skin! Transfer the straps onto a clean towel when you’re finished and use it to soak up the extra water.
Hang the straps up and let them dry naturally. As we said earlier, you do not want to put them in the dryer. Let them fully dry before re-attaching the heart rate monitor device
Best Detergent For Heart Rate Monitor Chest Straps
ACTIVE Detergent is one of the best, if not the best detergent that you can use for heart rate monitor straps. The reason is simple—it’s specifically formulated to remove sweat and bacteria from synthetic fibers, such as the ones that make up the straps. You can use other products, but chances are, it won’t work nearly as well.
Unlike traditional soaps, ACTIVE detergent contains plant-based enzymes that are physically able to break down the gunk that’s embedded in the fabric. Once that’s all gone, its chelating agents and natural surfactants restore the fibers back to the initial state. Not only will your straps be sweat-free, but they’ll last longer too (you’ll still want to make sure that you’re using the right steps to wash them)!
The best part? The formula is based on natural ingredients. In other words, you won’t be using a cocktail of chemicals. This is both better for your skin and better for the environment! Given all that, why wouldn’t you want to give ACTIVE detergent a try?