How To Choose The Right Heart Rate Monitor For Your Needs
People need heart rate monitors for different reasons. Some simply need to keep an eye on their resting heart rate throughout the day, others need it for , and some people need the most accurate heart rate data possible. But not all heart rate sensors are created equally, and the model you choose will depend on your specific needs. Theres also no guarantee that the latest version of a device will have a more reliable heart rate sensor than older devices, at least in our experience.
Your buying decision should lean on these two factors:
- Do you want accuracy about all else? Buy a heart rate monitor chest strap. Chest straps are more precise than wrist-worn wearables and can quickly pick up on important and telling nuances when working out.
- Do you want a device with added utility but dont mind less accurate tracking? Get a wrist-worn fitness tracker or fitness watch.
Most wearables use optical heart rate sensors that analyze light bouncing off a users blood vessels. Most chest straps use electrical monitors and receivers that track the electrical impulses of each heartbeat.
Chest straps usually perform one thing and one thing only: tracking your heart rate. This means youll forego the advantages of wrist-worn trackers, from smartwatch features to additional health metrics.
The Withings Scanwatch Is The Best Hybrid Watch For Heart Rate Data
One of our favorite devices for smarts undercover, the Withings Scanwatch is another great option for monitoring heart health. The device is a so you dont have to advertise that youre tracking anything at all, let alone your heart rate data. It also happens to offer a beautiful design and a build quality that is all class.
More importantly, its a reliable health tool. For starters, the watch packs a medical-grade ECG monitor a pulse oximeter, and 24/7 heart rate monitoring. While you sleep, the Scanwath even automatically tracks blood oxygen levels and uses heart rate and heart variability data to detect signs of sleep apnea. The solace of a clinically approved monitor is a great perk for anyone with sleep apnea concerns.
Similarly, for anyone with imminent heart health concerns, the watch allows you to take ECG readings on demand. Afterward, you can also easily share a PDF of your readings with your doctor just like with the Apple Watch above. The Scanwatch will also keep tabs on your beats in the background and notify you if your heart rate regularly seems too high or too low. This translates to early detection of the warning signs of bradycardia or tachycardia.
Simply put, the Withings Scanwatch is practically a specialty device for heart health. As a hybrid, it wont offer you a full smartwatch experience, or a detailed fitness tracking suite. However, its a beautiful accessory that may be great for your heart.
Best For Menstrual Health Tracking: Fitbit Charge 4
Although the Fitbit Charge 4 classifies as a tracker, people wear it on the wrist as a watch. It features GPS connectivity, sleep tracking, and 24-hour heart monitoring. The device also connects to the Fitbit app via phone, tablet, or computer.
This tracker monitors several health metrics, such as heart rate, steps taken, and a persons menstrual cycle.
The battery lasts up to 7 days, while the watch features secure contactless payment technology. This means a person can pay for items with the device without needing to take out a bank card or cash.
Price: The Fitbit Charge 4 is available on Amazon with a list price of $149.95.
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Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar
A bit of extra power from the sun
GPS: Yes Screen resolution: 260×260 pixels, 1.3 in Dimensions : 47x47x15.1 mm Weight: 85 g Watertight/Depth: 10 atm Wireless technology: Bluetooth smart, ANT+, Wi-Fi Battery life : 14 days Battery life : 36 hours Altitude meter : Yes Compass: Yes Vibration alarm: Yes Pulse measurement: Yes, built-in optical reading at the wrist and with external pulse strap
The Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar is exactly what the Fenix 6 Pro was, but with built-in solar cells for an extra battery boost. In a way, this makes the watch a bit of a boring update as it already contains everything you might need for training.
Good Exercise Without Setting Options
As long as the correct sport is on the watch, training is fine. But you simply cant set what should be shown on the screen while youre exercising. After exercising the sharing options are very poor and its a challenge to get your data out of it.
The disadvantages continue in the software. The limited functions make the interface easy to navigate, but you cant set which data should be shown on the various dials. Notifications dont work all that well either. Sometimes you see the name or number of the person calling, and sometimes not. Sometimes it shows which app is trying to get your attention, and sometimes not. Sometimes the notification is shown, and guess what? Sometimes not.
The Huawei Watch GT has taken a brave sidestep by starting something completely different from previous models. But it feels like the watch has been released too early in the development process to be able to give other smartwatches or pulse meters a serious run for their crown the biggest plus point will remain its battery life.
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Garmin Forerunner 245 Music
Amazing complete runners watch that doesnt skimp on the details
GPS: Yes Screen resolution: 240 x 240 pixels Dimensions : 42.3×42.3×12.2 mm Weight: 38.5 g Watertight/Depth: Yes/5ATM Battery life: 24 hours with GPS, 8 hours with GPS & music Wireless technology: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, ANT+ Battery life : up to 7 days Altitude meter : No, only height from GPS data Compass: Yes Vibration alarm: Yes Pulse measurement: Yes, built-in optical reading at the wrist and with external pulse strap
The Garmin Forerunner 245 takes a big step pardon the pun! up from its more budget-focused predecessor and comes straight in as our best heart rate monitor watch of 2020. This neat watch doesnt have every function, but it has enough for us not to feel left out. Really, Garmin are playing a dangerous game by competing against their own more expensive watches.
Factors That Cause Heart Rate Inaccuracy
Even if you are wearing your smart watch or fitness band correctly, certain factors may affect how well your heart rate is read. If you’re having trouble getting an accurate measurement, review this information:
Environmental factors that cause inaccuracy
The heart rate figures may not be accurate depending on measurement conditions and surroundings.
If heart rate measurements are taken at low temperatures, the results may be inaccurate. Keep yourself warm when measuring your heart rate.
If the heart rate sensor is dirty, wipe the sensor with a soft, clean, dry cloth and try again.
Obstructions between the watch band and your wrist, such as body hair, dirt, or other objects may prevent the light from reflecting evenly.
Smoking or consuming alcohol before taking measurements may cause your heart rate to be different from your normal heart rate.
Do not talk, yawn, or breathe deeply while taking heart rate measurements.
Users with thin wrists may receive inaccurate heart rate measurements with the watch.
Heart rate measurements taken for infants and toddlers may be inaccurate.
If your smart watch or fitness band still isnt reading your heart rate correctly, there are a couple things you can try to fix the problem.
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Samsung Galaxy Watch Active
Helpful exercise partner with unreliable battery life
GPS: Yes Screen resolution: 360×360 pixels Dimensions : 39.5×39.5×10.5 mm Weight: 25 g Watertight/Depth: Yes/5 Atm Battery life: up to 2 days Wireless technology: Bluetooth Battery life : up to 7 days Altitude meter : No, only height from GPS data Compass: Yes Vibration alarm: Yes Pulse measurement: Yes, built-in optical reading at the wrist
The Samsung Galaxy Watch Active is equal parts successor to the companys top model Galaxy Watch, which was launched last year, and a cheaper sister model to the same thing. In comparison, this is primarily a much smaller and lighter model, with the same hardware but roughly half the battery life.
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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Best With App: Fitbit Sense
Scan for body temp insights
Heart data monitoring
Extensive data via Fitbit app
Limited color options
Some features require app subscription
The Sense is Fitbits advanced health smartwatch that can track extensive health data. With the premium app , you receive access to unique features, including daily stress scores, as well as heart rate patterns, skin temperature, and oxygen saturation levels. You can also track your sleep patterns and set a smart awake alarm to wake you up during the optimal sleep stage.
Enhance your fitness routine with goal-based workouts, heart rate zone training, and all-day activity tracking. The data in the Fitbit premium app offers a full picture of your health and fitness.
Battery Life: Six days | Music: Yes | GPS: Yes | Waterproof: Up to 164 feet | Sleep Tracking: Yes | Other Features: Built-in Google assist and Amazon Alexa for access to news and other info, voice assist, stress management, fitness tracking, Fitbit pay
Everything In One Place
But essentially, the 745 is a triathlon and multisport watch. In this area, Garmin are veterans and rather hard to beat. Other than maps and golf mode, nothing else has been removed in the form of sensors or advanced analysis features. This means you get the whole of Garmins range in these areas, including the really good recovery function. Another new feature is suggestions for what training you should do next. For example, if your watch thinks you should rest your legs from running, it might suggest strength training.
Garmins platform as a whole looks like it normally does, which by now is a really stable affair with many features beyond exercise. You have built-in music mobile payments, phone notifications and all kinds of 24/7 activity tracking you could wish for.
To be honest, were a little sceptical about the true value of maps in a format as small as a watch, so the Forerunner 745 feels the more natural choice at a more sensible price for the multisport practitioner. But if you really do want everything, the more expensive variety is still the best choice.
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Other Smartwatches For Tracking Heart Health
If you want to keep costs down , there are other watches available with heart-health features.
The Fitbit Sense has a number of heart-rate features to rival Apple. It has standard heart-rate monitoring, can take ECGs and even combines your heart rate with your skin temperature sensor readings to report on your stress levels.
Sounds appealing? Discover if it impressed in our lab tests in our full Fitbit Sense review.
If youre an Android user, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 44mm might catch your eye. Alongside the usual heart-rate monitoring, it also has the ability to monitor your blood pressure or perform an ECG test on your heart rhythms. It can estimate your VO2 max too.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 44mm review to see how it fared in our rigorous performance tests.
Looking to stick to a stricter budget? The Oppo Band offers both heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring, plus 11 activity-tracking modes and sleep tracking. It lacks some key features such as GPS tracking though, but packs in plenty considering its low price.
Read our full Oppo Band review to see exactly how accurate and easy to use this fitness tracker is.
Garmin Venu 2 & Venu 2s
In many ways Garmin’s first real smartwatch
Screen resolution: OLED screen Venu 2: 416×416 pixels, 1.3 in. Venu 2S: 360×360 pixels, 1.1 in. Dimensions : 40.40×40.40×12.10 mm , 45.40×45.40×12.20 mm Weight: 38.2 g , 49 g Waterproof/Depth: 5 ATM Wireless technology: Bluetooth smart, ANT+ Battery life : 7 and 8 hours respectively Battery life : 11 and 12 days respectively Altimeter : Yes Compass: Yes Vibration alarm: Yes Heart rate measurement: Yes, built-in optical reading at the wrist and via external heart rate monitor
The Garmin Venu 2 and Garmin Venu 2S are more or less identical. The screen, battery and physical size differentiate them, but the watches are otherwise the same. The Venu 2S is the smaller of the two, with a shell of 40 mm, a screen of 1.1 inches and a slightly shorter battery life than the Venu 2. The Venu 2 has a shell of 45 mm and a screen of 1.3 inches. Both have an OLED-type touch screen, built-in support for Spotify and a lot of functions focused on “daily health” along with a mostly new interface.
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Its Going To Be Good In The End
Just like the Classic model, Wear OS 4 is the name of the game. The latest version of Googles smart watch system, and a much-needed update of that system. Apart from being alone on that version for a few six months or so, Samsung does not seem to be gaining much from it.
The Tizen system they previously used was very well developed, had advanced notification management, lots of functions, and a really good app deal. Its about the same here, but now the clocks are run using some sort of 24 hour battery life. Its a third of what the Tizen watches could do, and they were really quick. Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, on the other hand, suffers from a lot of lag and sluggishness, especially during start-up and when the battery is low.
At the same time, logically all the developments will be focused on Wear OS 4, which means that it is completely pointless to buy any other older Wear OS watch. At present, updates to these are looking bleak, so at the time of writing, Samsung watches are the only future-proof choice.Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is a good exercise watch, a good health buddy, and a good smartwatch. The disadvantage is that it feels like a clear step back, primarily in terms of battery life, compared to previous models from Samsung. At the same time, its the regular Watch 4 that you should choose in terms of price.
How To Choose The Best Heart Rate Monitor
There are many great heart rate monitors on the market. However, to find one thats right for you, its important to think about which metrics youre interested in and what type of monitor you need.
For example, some monitors only keep an eye on heart rate, while others offer additional fitness metrics, such as stride length, cadence, or blood pressure.
While some heart rate monitors are in the form of a chest band, armband, or watch, other options include hats and earbuds.
In general, chest straps tend to be the most accurate, as they use electrode sensors and are tightly pressed against your body.
In contrast, armbands and watches use optical sensors, which may be less precise but offer greater convenience and are more comfortable for all-day wear.
Youll also want to think about any additional features you might need. For example, some of the monitors on our list offer features designed for swimmers or cyclists, such as water resistance, GPS navigation, and internal memory for offline workouts.
If you want to pair your data with your smartphone, youll want to look for a monitor with Bluetooth or ANT+ capabilities.
When considering your budget, make sure to factor in any additional costs, such as subscription fees.
Heres a quick look at how our picks compare:
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Keep Track Of All Your Health Data With The Apple Watch Series 6
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From fitness enthusiasts to competitive athletes, heart rate monitor watches are a popular accessory. Most offer a comprehensive picture of your health, with stress, sleep, and heart rate data. Many heart rate monitor watches also track workout details or have GPS functions.
Its All In The Software
When it comes to workouts, everythings familiar. A lot of data is collected and can be displayed both during and after a workout in more or less any way you want. The types of workout covers most things, including golf, and the great screen in combination with a fresh interface means you now get really useful information on the watch itself. One of the new workout aspects is HIIT mode and updated animations for yoga and strength training to show you how to perform exercises.
For running, you can follow a training programme and have the watch tell you what you should do, which it spills over to the area of “daily health”. There we find things like steps, heart rate, sleep, stress and the like. The touchscreen allows us to easily fill in the meter for fluid intake and the like. Garmin’s Body Battery has been completely redone and now actually feels quite consistent with how fit you feel. Among the exercise modes you will find, a little confusingly, both a breathing exercise and Health Snapshot. The latter checks all the watch sensors for two minutes to give you a full battery of health data, where really only the ECG is missing.
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