How We Chose The Best Heart Rate Monitors
There are several factors to consider when purchasing a heart rate monitor, such as functionality, features, price, and brand reputation. When rounding up the best heart rate monitors, we considered the following factors:
- Functionality. Heart rate monitors can be worn as chest bands, armbands, or watches. Weve included a range of options to help you find what works best for your needs.
- Features. We included options for people looking for a basic heart rate monitor as well as athletes with specific needs. Plus, all these monitors have Bluetooth connectivity.
- Price. We know that budgets can vary, which is why we included heart rate monitors at a variety of price points.
- Customer reviews. We looked for options with high ratings and positive feedback.
- Vetting. The heart rate monitors on our list have been vetted to ensure that they align with Healthlines brand integrity standards and approach to well-being. You can read more about our vetting process.
Vo2 Max For Serious Fitness Data
While VO2 Max â the metric which essentially calculates the maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can utilise during intense exercise â has made its way onto a large number of sports watches and even hearables, Fitbit has a different name for it â Cardio Fitness Score.
To access your score, simply head to the heart rate section of the Fitbit app and swipe the graph across. The higher your score, the better your fitness, and Fitbit will help determine where you sit on the scale by looking at your age, gender and resting heart rate. For more on understand the metric, read our VO2 Max guide.
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How Does Fitbit Measure Heart Rate
Fitbit Charge 5 heart rate sensor
Similar to how we covered the tech for the Apple Watch heart rate monitor, let’s give a quick breakdown to how pretty much all wrist-based heart rate monitoring works.
Photoplethysmography essentially works upon one simple premise: blood is red because it reflects red light and absorbs green light. So by using green LEDs and pairing them with photodiodes, Fitbit uses its own in-house PurePulse technology to detect the amount of blood flowing through the wrist.
When your heart beats, this flow, and as a result the green light being absorbed is greater. These lights are then flashed hundreds of times per second in order to gain the most accurate BPM data.
Naturally, while every company dabbling with this optical sensor technology is working from the same blueprint, the accuracy of the readings will come down to how each company’s algorithms interpret the data.
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How Do I See Resting Heart Rate Data
To see your current resting heart rate, swipe up from the clock face on your device. To see resting heart rate data for the past 30 days, tap the Heart Rate tile in the Fitbit app.
This data is also available in the Health Metrics tile:
For more information, see What should I know about health metrics in the Fitbit app?
How Fitbit Monitors Your Heart Rate
Fitbit calls its heart rate monitor PurePulseits continuous heart rate tracking technology that works from your wrist using light, specifically green light.
The technology of using light to detect changes in blood flow is called photoplethysmography.
On your HR-equipped Fitbit, those little green lights on the back of your Fitbit pebble are your heart rate sensors.
What they do is blink green light many times per second and, using light-sensitive photodiodes, detect how much of that green light is absorbed to detect volume changes in the capillaries above your wrist.
The higher your blood volume is, the more green light is absorbed. And the lower your blood volume, the less green light is absorbed.
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Beefed Up Notifications And Exercise Tracking
Smartphone notifications have been beefed up on the Charge 2. As before, you get call and text notifications, but now the watch will show calendar events, too. Thatâs still more limited than the vivosmart which also shows Facebook and Twitter, as well as the weather but the Charge 2âs screen at least gives a bit more info at a glance than before.
If you use the Charge 2 in connection with your Android or iPhone while running, it can tap into the smartphoneâs GPS to give you a more accurate distance and pace measurement. This is a nice feature, but if youâre already carrying your phone, thereâs no real reason to also have a separate fitness tracker.
Fitbit has expanded activity tracking to include running, weights, treadmill, workout, elliptical, bike and interval training. However, unlike the vivosmart HR, which will automatically increase your steps target based on the number of steps you take each day, the Charge 2 will keep your goal at the same number until you change it yourself.
Another feature missing from the Charge 2 thatâs included on the vivosmart HR is the ability to control music from the band. This is a really handy feature if you like to run with an iPod.
Two Caveats To Keep In Mind
If you notice a change in your resting heart rate but none of the scenarios above seem plausible, there are two other factors that may be playing a part: age and medication.
Resting Heart Rate Increases With AgeMost of the time your RHR can be modified. Unfortunately, as you get older, your RHR tends to increase. To reduce the impact that aging can have on your cardiovascular system, you can help maximize your results by exercising within your target HR zone to help lower your resting heart rate.
Medication Affects Resting Heart RateChanges in your resting heart rate can also result from over-the-counter or prescription medications. Medications to treat asthma, depression, obesity, and attention deficit disorder tend to increase your RHR. However, medications prescribed for hypertension and heart conditions typically decrease your resting heart rate.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.
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Tip : How To Improve Heart Rate Accuracy
Most of Fitbit’s devices include an optical based heart rate monitor. Just the Sense currently offers an additional ECG sensor to offer medical grade readings of your heart. For that optical sensor, there are some ways to improve accuracy of readings.
The first thing to do is to make sure you’re wearing your Fitbit on top of your wrist and the back of the device is in contact with your skin.
If you’re exercising with it on, make sure to get a slightly tighter fit to reduce the chances of the movement which can impact on the sensor taking readings. Crucially, you don’t want it to be a constricting or tight that it feels uncomfortable to work out with.
When you’re not using the heart rate sensor during exercise, make sure you wear your device a finger width’s above your wrist bone.
How Accurate Are Fitness Trackers When It Comes To Calories
Any activity you do should increase the number of calories you burn , although some researchers now question this widely-held theory see why in this 2015 report in the American Journal of Human Biology . But, assuming that TEE is still a valid measurement, any fitness tracker needs to accurately assess your activity level to be able to calculate it.
A 2020 review of the latest research on trackers in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that wrist- or arm-worn trackers measuring energy expenditure varied in accuracy depending on the task being performed. When the movement of the body was the only parameter being measured they were less accurate than when the tracker also included a heart rate monitor or heat sensor.
Trackers evaluated for a 2019 report in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health were found to be out by more than 10% when measuring TEE. When measuring aerobic workouts, TEE tended to be overestimated when working at a slower pace, and underestimated when working at a higher pace. During anaerobic workouts trackers generally underestimated the amount of energy used.
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Fitbit Calories Burned Accuracy By Model
Every Fitbit model is slightly different, so the accuracy of the calorie burn counter will vary by model.
Newer and more expensive Fitbit models tend to be more accurate than older and less expensive models.
For example, the Fitbit Charge 4 has been found to be one of the most accurate fitness trackers on the market. A study conducted by Wareable found that the Charge 4 was highly accurate when it came to tracking heart rate and steps. And the upgraded model, Fitbit Charge 5, is even more accurate than the Charge 4.
The accuracy of the Fitbit Inspire 2 calorie counter needs more testing. However, based on the accuracy of other Fitbit models, it’s safe to say that the Inspire 2 is likely to be accurate within a few percentage points. However, being an entry-level model without a built-in GPS, it may not be as accurate as the more expensive models like the Charge or Sense.
Making the most out of your fitness tracker is all about understanding its limitations. No fitness tracker is perfect, and they all have their own strengths and weaknesses.
Flaws But Not Dealbreakers
The Charge 5 can record more than 20 different types of activity, but you can see no more than six activity modes at once on the device. If your typical routine involves more than that, youll find yourself swapping workout types in and out to make sure youre covered. A tracker that allows you to access more than a half-dozen activities at a time, like our upgrade and also-great picks, might suit you better. Goal setting and other metrics are restricted on some activities. Though we havent tested it in the pool yet, the tracker limits you to setting a time goal for swimmingyou cant set one for distance . Strength-training mode doesnt offer a rep counter .
The Charge 5 doesnt offer guided breathing sessions on the device or the ability to control Spotify from your wrist, both of which the Charge 4 did. Both of our upgrade and also-great picks allow for music control from the device.
Previous models of the Charge have been described as buggy, or suffering from larger problems such as all-out bricking. Fitbits customer service has always been very good about replacing faulty devices under its one-year limited warranty. But once that coverage expires, theres not much that can be done. This is true of almost all fitness trackers.
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What To Look Forward To
Earlier this year, Garmin introduced its Venu 2 Plus, the third model in the Venu series and an upgraded version of the Venu 2S. When paired with a smartphone, the Venu 2 Plus allows for making and answering calls on the device and using a smartphones voice assistant feature. We plan to try it.
Were assessing the Whoop 4.0, the latest iteration of the display-less, subscription-based , performance-focused device, which has new features, including vibrating sleep alarms and an SpO2 sensor . Well report our findings soon.
Fitbit Charge 3 Accuracy And Full Review
If you have previously read my review of the Fitibit Versa, a smartwatch I have a great fondness for but suffered from syncing issues, youll know Ive had a strained relationship with Fitbit. Although I have to say that the Versa has been much more reliable for me lately, I was still worried how the Fitbit Charge 3 would test out. I am happy to say, after a couple of early updates from Fitbit, the Charge 3 has been performing very well. Woohoo!
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In the following tests I put the Charge 3 up against the Apple Watch Series 4 to compare heart rate and GPS accuracy. Id already tested out the Series 4 and knew it was pretty darn accurate.
And if you dont want to read through the entire review, the Charge 3 gave me almost identical numbers as the Apple Watch Series 4 for both heart rate and GPS accuracy.
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What Happens When I Receive A Heart
When your Fitbit device detects your heart rate goes above or below your personal heart rate threshold while youre inactive, you receive a notification on your Fitbit device. Tap Open, and then tap the notification in the Fitbit app to learn more about your data and complete a survey where you log any potential factors, medications, and symptoms. You can use the info you log in the survey to track your heart health trends and share it with your healthcare provider.
Fitbit Charge 3 Or Charge 4
As one of the worlds biggest makers of fitness trackers, Fitbit is always under pressure to deliver new and innovative options for consumers. The Fitbit Charge 3 has been a highly successful device for the company. And, if you own one, you will appreciate the number of features you can use to ensure that your health and wellbeing take center stage.
However, you may be wondering if it is time to upgrade. Rather than being uncertain, we have the answers to your questions so that you can make your decision with confidence!
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How To View Your Heart Rate On A Fitbit
Heart rate graphs in Fitbit app
Below we’ll get into the intricacies of the heart rate monitor, but it’s worth pointing out how you can actually view your heart rate data, too.
Depending on the device itself, you should be able to see your current BPM on the home screen or by swiping. For detailed info from your exercise or on resting heart rate, you’ll need to head to the Fitbit app’s dashboard and tap through to the Heart Rate section and select the day you want to view. The same also applies to the Fitbit web app.
Are There Problems With Fitbit Charge 4
Fitbit has acknowledged that there is a problem with its recently launched Charge 4 device heeding to complaints made by customers. … The main concern for the customers was the gap between the device and the band. Many customers took to Fitbit’s community forums to address the issue, Android Central noted.
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Sensors As Accurate As Ever
Like other fitness trackers in this price range, the Charge 2 uses an accelerometer to record distance. During a walk, it measured 500 steps as 462, which is a bit less accurate than other fitness trackers, but not appreciably so.
I also took the Charge 2 on a 3-mile run, while wearing the Garmin Forerunner 235 GPS running watch on my other wrist. Here, the Fitbit overcounted my distance, giving me credit for having run 3.34 miles. The same thing happened on a second run, but this isnât too unusual for accelerometer-only fitness trackers. Fortunately, Fitbit allows you to fine-tune the Charge 2 by manually inputting your stride length. Still, if you want to precisely measure how far youâve run, youâre going to need a GPS watch, as we outline in our guide to using tech to run a 5K.
The Charge 2âs heart rate monitor proved more accurate. On my run, it measured my average heart rate at 150 beats per minute, with a max of 181 bpm. Thatâs pretty much in line with the Forerunner 235 , which measured my average heart rate at 154 beats per minute, and a max of 182.
Fitbit made a few tweaks to its already great app to make your data more accessible, and more user friendly.
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Are Wrist Heart Rate Monitors Accurate
Wrist heart rate monitors are not quite as accurate as chest strap heart rate monitors, but they can still give you a good idea of your heart rate.
The optical sensors used in wrist-worn heart rate monitors can be affected by different types of movement, so the accuracy of your heart rate readings may depend on what kind of exercise youre doing .
If you need highly accurate heart rate data to help with your training, a chest strap may be a better option.
That said, wrist heart rate monitors may be more comfortable to wear throughout the day and often have additional features such as visible LED lights or a screen that displays the time, your heart rate, steps, and more.
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How Do I Make My Fitbit Heart Rate Accurate
For a more accurate heart-rate reading:
Tip : Improve Swim Tracking Accuracy
If you want to track a swim session, make sure you’ve calibrated the tracker to the length of the pool. You can do this by going into your Account > Activity & Wellness and going to Exercise. Then tap through to the swimming option to adjust the pool length.
On the Sense and Versa series smartwatches, you can do this before each swim on the watch itself by tapping the cog icon in the top left and adjusting the distance.
Make sure you do this to ensure the best accuracy in the pool.
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