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A Buyer’s Guide to Best Heart Rate Monitors

Heart monitors allow you to keep an eye on your heart without having to rely on your doctor. They are incredibly handy for all sorts of situations, such as tracking your heart rate during exercise or while you’re relaxing at home.

Over the last few years, heart monitors have been transformed from bulky, unsightly devices you have to strap to your chest, to stylish, discreet devices packed with cutting-edge features to give you the full picture.

Modern heart rate monitors give you as much information as you need about your health. They record your heart data for you and allow your doctors and other healthcare practitioners to easily access the information without having to call you in for an appointment.

As with any sort of tech equipment available these days, there are many heart rate monitors from which to choose. They come in all different shapes and sizes. So how do you know which one is right for you?

This comprehensive guide will help you find the best heart rate monitor to meet all your needs.

 

Buying A Heart Rate Monitor

Optical Wrist Sensors vs Chest Straps

First of all, you need to decide how you want to wear your heart rate monitor. 

Chest straps use electrical pulses to measure your heart rate. Wristbands use optical sensors and other technology to measure your heart rate. 

Optical sensors are responsible for making wearables like Apple Watch and Fitbit gadgets easy to use. They are very accurate, making them useful to use in other applications to measure heart rates.

Wearable heart rate monitors are also available with LED lights to show you how hard your heart is working. Each color represents the heart rate zone you are in.

Wristbands are far more convenient and comfortable than chest straps, but since they aren’t placed directly on your chest, they are not as accurate as those devices.  Knowing this, more brands are creating wearable heart rate monitors that are positioned higher on the arm in order to provide more reliable readings. Of course, you then need to make sure it is firmly enough attached to your arm to remain in place during intense exercise.

Ultimately, it is up to you how you wish to measure your heart rate and what type of device is most comfortable for you to wear.

This is one of the most important factors to consider. It’s no secret that wristbands and wearables are more comfortable than a chest strap and won’t chafe your skin. They fit easily on your arm and can be adjusted to your preference even when exercising. 

Chest straps must be strapped tightly to your chest to stop it from sliding out of place. If not well attached, it will stop reading your heart. Refitting the strap takes longer than a wristband so, if you’re in the middle of your workout, the adjustment can be more time consuming to perform. However, make it too tight and it will chafe your skin. So care is required.

The tradeoff is ease of use and possibly greater comfort with wristband monitors versus the added accuracy of chest straps but with less ease of adjustment for comfort.

ANT+ vs Bluetooth

ANT+ precedes Bluetooth. It has become standard issue for workout machines like treadmills, cross trainers and more. Low-end heart rate monitors use this technology too, but this restricts how well it can connect with other devices. Heart rate monitors that use Bluetooth can sync with smartphones and other devices, giving you more control over tracking your progress.

Extras

Modern heart rate monitors can do more than just measure heart rate. They can also be used for fitness trackers, EKG, ECG and even to track your sleep. The more features in a device has, the more help it offers about your health. Of course, the more advanced features also come with a bigger price tag.

With these factors in mind, here is a list of the top 10 best heart rate monitors to buy right now. 

 

Fitbit Charge 3

Amazon

Fitbit Charge 3 Fitness Activity Tracker, Graphite/Black, One Size (S and L Bands Included)

$149.95
$119.95  in stock
36 new from $115.71
Free shipping
Buy Now
A Buyer's Guide to Best Heart Rate Monitors Amazon.com
as of November 29, 2020 2:50 pm

Features

  • Better measure calorie burn, understand resting heart rate & more with 24/7 heart rate tracking and a battery life of up to 7 days (varies with use and other factors); charge time (0 to100 percent) 2 hours
  • Choose from 15 plus exercise modes like run, bike, swim, yoga, circuit training and more, set a goal, and get real time stats during your workouts to see how you can keep getting better
  • Automatically record time spent in light, deep and REM sleep stages, see Activity trends, healthy insights, and personalized guidance in one place with Fitbit today. Operating temperature is -10° to 45° Celsius
  • Swim proof and water resistant to 50 meters, so you can track swims and wear in the shower; we do not recommend wearing charge 3 in a hot tub or sauna; also connect to Smartphone GPS for real time pace and distance during outdoor runs and rides
  • Stay connected to your day with everyday apps for weather and more and get called, text and smartphone app notifications on your wrist; small wristband fits a wrist between 5.5 to 7.1 inches; large wrist band fits a wrist between 7.1 to 8.7 inches

Fitbit is one of the biggest brands in the smartwatch and fitness tracker industry, and the Fitbit Charge 3 is one of their best. It doubles as a fitness tracker and a heart rate monitor. Other features include being waterproof up to depths of 50m (164 feet), it looks great and it also provides pretty accurate readings.

The Charge 3 uses Fitbit’s all-in-one approach. It utilizes PurePulse technology to monitor your heart rate and, thanks to its SpO2 sensor, it can monitor your sleep, too. This sensor is so robust that it can be used to diagnose sleep apnea.

Like most fitness bands and smartwatches, Charge3 will count your steps, distance travelled and how many calories you’ve burned. Plus, if you start to feel tired from the day’s activities, Charge 3 is programmed to take you through breathing exercises to prevent you from fainting.

In terms of usability, Charge 3’s touchscreen is around 33% larger than that of the previous model, making interaction even easier. The battery life is very good and the device uses your phone’s GPS for connectivity. The Charge3 is customizable too, with multiple colors and styles to choose from, so you can match it to your outfit.

Other features of the Charge3 include the ability to choose from more than 15 exercise modes to track your progress. The list includes running, cycling and swimming, to name a few. 

Overall, this is a great device. It has many features that will keep you motivated to achieve better health. If you’re looking for a heart rate monitor that can do it all, with a battery that lasts more than a week, this is the one for you.

Pros

Strong battery life – the battery is very powerful and will give you 7 days’ worth of power before needing to be charged. Use it all week without worrying about running out of juice.

Great interface – Fitbit Charge3 has a larger display, increasing in size by more than a third compared to the previous model. Seeing more about your health on the screen and interacting with the device is easier than ever.

It has SpO2 sensors to analyze your sleep and provide you with the ultimate sleep tracking package. Fitbit is attempting to become the industry leader for sleep tracking. There’s a good reason to do this: your sleep can tell you many things about your health. For example, if your sleep is easily disrupted, Charge3 can help diagnose such conditions as sleep apnea.

24/7 activity tracking ensures you can track your heart rate and overall health at any time you need to do so. It makes sure you are always on top of your fitness and health.

You can take it anywhere, including the swimming pool. It can resist depths of up to 50m (164 feet).

Cons

Charge3 doesn’t come with built-in GPS. This is surprising considering most smartwatches and heart rate monitors do come with this technology.

It may not be able to keep up with high-intensity activities. However, Charge3 will give accurate readings for running, working out in the gym and other light sessions.

 

Omron HeartGuide

Omron HeartGuide

499.00
Buy Now
A Buyer's Guide to Best Heart Rate Monitors Omronhealthcare.com
as of October 31, 2020 6:33 am

Finally comes the Omron HeartGuide. However, just because it’s the last devices on this list, doesn’t mean that it’s the worst of the bunch. It’s actually one of the best.

HeartGuide offers a range of features to monitor your health. It is packed with a heart rate monitor, sleep tracker, blood pressure tracker, and fitness tracker. All of these features are contained into a sleek, stylish smartwatch.

In particular, its blood pressure monitor is one of the best there is. Typical trackers use inflatable cuffs that are uncomfortable to wear. HeartGuide is the opposite. Its second strap fits great and acts as a miniature cuff, making it easy to take a blood pressure reading while on the move. HeartGuide reads your diastolic and systolic pressure with high accuracy in a matter of seconds.

There are also many other features, such as tracking how many steps you take throughout the day, how far you have walked/run/cycled, etc., and how many calories you have burned. 

The sleep tracker tells you the quality of your sleep, how long you were sleeping, your daily sleep pattern and more.

Finally, HeartGuide sends push notifications via a companion app on your smartphone to give you updates on your heart rate and other fitness information. 

HeartGuide is certainly a device you should consider buying for a fantastic, all-in-one heart rate monitor.

Pros 

Easy to use – HeartGuide is very comfortable to wear and use compared to other blood pressure devices on the market. 

State-of-the-art sensors are well positioned in the device, meaning it provides very accurate readings that are so accurate that its reliability closely compares to heart blood pressure readings given by equipment used in major hospitals.

You can see how your heart health compares to American Heart Association guidelines.

More than tracking – it can help you diagnose any signs of sleep apnea

Furthermore, the FDA has cleared this device to use for health tracking to give you extra peace of mind.

Multi-purpose – it can watch your sleep, track your fitness, tell you how many calories you’ve burned and monitor your heart and blood pressure.

Cons

HeartGuide is larger than other smartwatches and fitness trackers. People with smaller wrists may find it easier to wear something else.

 

Sigma R1

Amazon

Sigma Comp Part Ant + HR Chest Strap R1 Transmitter

$54.98  in stock
4 new from $49.99
Buy Now
A Buyer's Guide to Best Heart Rate Monitors Amazon.com
as of November 29, 2020 2:50 pm

Features

  • ANT+ compatible Sigma sensors
  • Dimensions: 8 Length x 3 Width x 3 Height
  • Made in China

The Sigma R1 is one of the best heart rate monitors for cycling. It’s a chest strap that syncs data with your smartphone via Bluetooth or ANT+. Although the device itself doesn’t come with many features, its heart rate readings are accurate.

Compared to most other chest straps, Sigma R1 is kind on the eyes too. It’s steady, unobtrusive and doesn’t need charging. It can be easily switched on and off via the app.

If you’re looking for a chest strap heart rate monitor that is purely functional, Sigma R1 is a great choice.

Pros

Sigma R1 is compatible with almost any device that connects via Bluetooth or ANT+, such as your smartphone, tablet, and your workout bike computer.

Once strapped on, it fixes steadily on your chest, even during intense bike rides.

Offers both Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity options.

Great value for the money.

Cons

As with all chest straps, it can chafe your skin. 

The lack of other features may make it undesirable.

 

Scosche Rhythm+ Heart Rate Monitor

Amazon

Scosche Rhythm+ Heart Rate Monitor Armband- Optical Heart Rate Armband Monitor with Dual Band Radio ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart - Bonus Pack includes Additional Free Armband

$94.99
$79.95  in stock
1 new from $79.95
Free shipping
Buy Now
A Buyer's Guide to Best Heart Rate Monitors Amazon.com
as of November 29, 2020 2:50 pm

Features

  • Not Orange Theory Compatible - Heart Rate Monitor Armband Featuring a Large and Small Black Strap. Bonus Pack Includes One Additional Free Orange Armband
  • RHYTHM+ works with most popular health and fitness apps, including: digifit, run keeper, mapmyfitness, Strava, and more. Not compatible with Orange Theory Fitness Centers.
  • Works with all Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ enabled devices and equipment: watches, fitness equipment, smartphones, and tablets Breathable lightweight Armband - no need for a bulky chest strap
  • Ip67 waterproof construction can be submerged up to 1 meter
  • RHYTHM plus works with most popular health and fitness apps, including: DigiFit Run keeper MapMyFitness Strava and more

The Scosche heart rate monitor is another chest strap. It is cheap but extremely effective. It can connect to devices using both ANT+ and Bluetooth – something that a few expensive monitors cannot do. 

The strap itself is fairly comfortable to wear and will dry out fairly quickly after an intense, sweaty session. This belt also has a very long battery life. You can expect to get a few month’s worth of use out of it before it needs charging.

Pros

Long battery life – you will get long periods of use before having to recharge.

Comfortable on the skin compared to other chest strap heart rate monitors.

Cons

Not suitable as a medical device. It should only be used for sport and leisure purposes.

 

Lezyne HR Flow

Amazon

LEZYNE Hr Flow Sensor Bike Pump Accessory, Black, One Size

$44.99  in stock
10 new from $44.99
Free shipping
Buy Now
A Buyer's Guide to Best Heart Rate Monitors Amazon.com
as of November 29, 2020 2:50 pm

Features

  • High performance
  • Comfortable heart Tate monitor
  • Conforms 100% to Bluetooth smart standards
  • Lightweight

The award for the best budget heart rate monitor goes to the Lezyne HR Flow. If you are spending large sums of money on a gym membership, food and supplements, equipment and workout outfits, it’s nice to find a device that works well for a low price. 

This device connects to all your devices, such as your bike, smartphone, smartwatch and computer via Bluetooth. The battery is small but lasts for a long time and the device itself is easy to maintain.

Most importantly, the Lezyne Heart Rate Flow measures your heart rate. You can get all this for less than $50.

If you want a heart rate monitor that does the job well for cheap, this is probably the device for you.

Pros

Affordable – at less than $50, you can monitor your health on a budget. It uses monitors found in devices that cost more than double the price of this one.

The tracking data is accurate.

It’s very lightweight.

Cons

No ANT+ connectivity, meaning it may not be able to connect with some of your devices.

Not many other features. The technology is basic and the device has no onboard GPS.

 

Garmin Fenix 5

Amazon

Garmin Fenix 5 Training Watch Silver with Granite Blue Band (Renewed)

$294.95  in stock
2 new from $289.95
Buy Now
A Buyer's Guide to Best Heart Rate Monitors Amazon.com
as of November 29, 2020 2:50 pm

Features

  • Premium multisport GPS watch with Elevate wrist heart rate technology
  • Fit for adventure with rugged design that features stainless steel bezel, buttons and rear case
  • Put key stats at your fingertips with the performance widget that shows the effects and progress of your workouts
  • Connected features include smart notifications, automatic uploads to Garmin Connect online fitness community and personalization through free watch faces and apps from our Connect IQ store
  • Outdoor sensors, including GPS and GLONASS satellite reception and 3-axis compass with gyroscope and barometric altimeter

This heart rate monitor is for those who are looking for that little bit extra. Garmin has been setting the standards for heart rate monitors for years. The Fenix range, in particular, is accurate and durable. The Fenix 5 is no different, except this model has a better battery, a large display for better interaction and contains more features than the previous model.

Fenix 5 can sync with all your devices thanks to both ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity, making it easy for you to track and record your heart rate and other fitness-related data. 

In terms of the heart rate monitor itself, the data is fairly accurate. You can also expect an altitude meter, GPS tracker, sleep tracker and more.

Keeping with the theme of high-end heart rate monitors, Garmin has designed the Fenix 5 to look like a luxury item. It comes with a hefty price tag, but if you’re willing to pay the price, you’re getting one of the most holistic luxury heart rate monitors on the market.

Pros

Fenix 5 is well-designed, both inside and outside, giving the appearance of a luxury item that many smartwatch wearers desire.

The battery will work all day and night without disruption

There are multiple features that come with the heart rate monitor.

Cons

Expensive – if you haven’t got the cash, there are similar products available for your budget.

 

Moov HR Sweat

Amazon

3D Fitness Tracker & Real Time Audio Coach, Moov Now:Swimming Running Water Resistant Activity Calories Tracker with Sleep Monitor, Bluetooth Smart Wristband for Android and iOS, Fusion Red

$59.99  in stock
1 new from $59.99
1 used from $39.00
Free shipping
Buy Now
A Buyer's Guide to Best Heart Rate Monitors Amazon.com
as of November 29, 2020 2:50 pm

Features

  • MOOV NOW provides real-time audio coaching for running, cycling, cardio boxing, body weight (Moov 7 Minute+)
  • Most advanced swim tracker - stroke type, stroke count, lap analysis, recommends ways to improve
  • Tracks Active Minutes and Sleep
  • A wearable fitness coach that speaks to you - actively monitors your motion, tracks your progress, and motivates you to achieve your fitness goals
  • Up to 6 months battery life and waterproof. Band is lightweight and breathable.Wear it on your wrist for swimming, on your ankle for running and cycling, or wear two for cardio boxing

The Moov HR Sweat is a little different from other heart rate monitors. For starters, it’s not a chest strap or a wristband – it’s a headband. The heart rate monitor measures your heart rate from your temple.

The Moov device also acts as your own personal trainer. It will give you live feedback on your workout for all different types of exercise. All you need to do is tell the app what workout you’re doing such as interval training, cycling or bodyweight movements, and the Moov will talk you through it. It will even tell you if you need to work harder or if you’re heart rate is in the sweet spot.

You can also link the device with other apps for non-coached training.

If you don’t like wearing headgear this may not be the heart rate monitor for you but if you don’t mind it, you will get a great workout and an accurate reading.

Pros

One of the first devices to use real-time coaching to measure heart rate.

Good heart rate monitor

Cons

Headbands aren’t popular. They can be uncomfortable, especially when you get sweaty.

 

Polar H10

Amazon

Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor Chest Strap - ANT + Bluetooth, ECG/EKG - Waterproof HR Sensor for Men and Women (NEW)

$88.35
$71.96  in stock
12 new from $71.96
Free shipping
Buy Now
A Buyer's Guide to Best Heart Rate Monitors Amazon.com
as of November 29, 2020 2:50 pm

Features

  • WORKS WITH EVERYTHING: Polar HRM works with many sports and smart watches (Polar, Garmin, Apple, Suunto, etc.), Polar Beat, fitness apps such as Strava and Nike, and ALL HRM compatible Cardio Equipment
  • SUPREME ACCURACY: Widely recognized for its top precision by many sources, Polar H10 is the most accurate heart rate sensor in Polar’s history. Polar H10 provides top quality heart rate measurement and it's the choice of many pro athletes.
  • CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, ANT+ and 5 kHz provide an excellent variety of connection options (e.g. with Peloton). You can use Bluetooth and ANT+ connections simultaneously as well as two Bluetooth connections simultaneously.
  • POLAR PRO CHEST STRAP: With improved electrodes, an easy-to-use buckle and silicone dots, the strap is comfortable and interference-free, and stays put when you're on the move.
  • VERSATILITY: Wear Polar HR monitor when rowing, cycling, running, training indoors or swimming. Polar H10 is fully waterproof and it has internal memory for one training session.

Polar is yet another company that is an integral member of the heart health industry. The Polar H10 is priced at just under $100 but you definitely get a bang for your buck. The monitors provide accurate heart rate readings. It is waterproof for up to 50m (164 feet), so you can take it swimming. It has a solid battery life.

H10 has an onboard memory so it stores your heart rate data as you exercise, even when you are not using your phone/computer. The H10 is a chest strap heart rate monitor so although it packs a punch, it might not be for everyone.

Regardless, the Polar H10 is one of the more comfortable chest monitors on the market and will stay in place even during high-intensity training.

Pros

The device does not require a smartphone to work. The readings are accurate and consistent.

H10 is waterproof up to 50m (164 feet), so it can be used while swimming or in the rain if you train outside.

Its internal data storage can hold up to 100 hours of data.

H10 is comfortable and doesn’t chafe your skin

The battery life is decent and, considering the price, it is much better than most monitors in the same range.

Cons

There have been some reports that features like GymLink lag from time to time.

Maintenance costs can add up quickly. You could be charged extra for industry-standard features.

 

Garmin HRM-Run

Amazon

Garmin HRM-Tri Heart Rate Monitor

$129.99
$75.00  in stock
12 new from $75.00
1 used from $143.55
Free shipping
Buy Now
A Buyer's Guide to Best Heart Rate Monitors Amazon.com
as of November 29, 2020 2:50 pm

Features

  • COMPACT AND COMFORTABLE - HRM-Tri is the smallest and lightest heart rate monitor from Garmin. Designed with rounded edges and no exposed seams, the strap remains comfortable during extended hours of training.
  • SWIM HEART RATE1 - Stores up to 20 hours of heart rate data during swims, then forwards it to a compatible device at the end of the session. It also sends real-time heart rate to the watch when the monitor is out of the water
  • RUNNING DYNAMICS2 - Provides feedback on running form by measuring cadence, vertical oscillation and ground contact time when paired with a compatible device
  • BATTERY LIFE - Lasts for 10 months (assuming 1 hour/day use) with user-replaceable CR2032 battery.
  • Includes - HRM-Tri, manuals. Supports heart rate variability and advanced heart rate features

This device is another on this list that has many extra features in addition to the heart rate monitor. The Garmin HRM-Run is unique and perfect for anyone who loves numbers. For example, it comes with an accelerometer and is compatible with a host of other fitness trackers.

HRM-Run tracks 6 advanced metrics: vertical ratio, stride length, ground contact balance, ground contact time, oscillation and cadence.

And because it’s made by Garmin, you be sure you are getting a great product, even if you do have to spend that little bit more.

Pros

Collects 6 advanced stats that can provide detailed insight into your health when combined with a compatible fitness tracker. The heart rate readings are accurate so the overall picture can provide reliable results.

It is stylish and comfortable to wear.

Cons

The device doesn’t track the information itself – you must connect it to another device.

It only works via ANT+. If your device has Bluetooth or GPS, you won’t get any use from it.

 

MyZone MZ-3

Amazon

MYZONE MZ-3 Physical Activity Belt

$149.99
$88.95  in stock
4 new from $88.95
Buy Now
A Buyer's Guide to Best Heart Rate Monitors Amazon.com
as of November 29, 2020 2:50 pm

Features

Part NumberRunning Belts
ModelMZ-3
Is Adult Product
SizeMedium

The MyZone MZ-3 is very expensive, especially for chest strap heart rate monitors. However, it does provide something that no other device on this list can offer: MyZone Effort Points (MEPs). These are awarded in line with how much effort you put into your workout. When you hit the right heart rate zones, you earn MEPs.

The MyZone system is not just for exercising on your own, either. Many gym classes use it, so you can track and compare your efforts with those of other people in the class. If anyone else owns an MZ-3 heart rate monitor, you are ranked against them via effort points in the partner app.

For anyone who likes to compete, this should be something to consider.

Other points to note include a long-lasting battery life and both ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity so it will work with most trackers.

Pros

The battery will last for 7 months before it needs to be recharged.

Live display of data via smartphone app, watch or ‘in club’ displays.

99.4% accuracy to an EKG/ECG machine.

Cons

Expensive compared to other chest strap heart rate monitors that can provide just as accurate results.

If you don’t go to a gym that uses the MyZone system, the functionality is irrelevant.

 

Why You Need A Heart Monitor

Here are some of the main reasons you will benefit from a heart rate monitor.

Measuring Workout Intensity

The American Heart Association says that monitoring your heart rate is important for two reasons: it tells you how hard you are working and whether your overall fitness is improving over time.

Sure, there are other methods for measuring workout intensity. Measuring how hard you are breathing after so many minutes of an exercise, or how tired you are can be useful. However, heart rate tracking is the most reliable method to judge progress from your workouts. Plus, heart rate monitors create data that can be analyzed from multiple angles, giving you deeper insights into your health and fitness levels.

Safer Workouts

Working out too hard and overtraining can lead to injury and put unnecessary stress on your heart. Heart rate monitors allow you to workout safely so that you can readily tell when your heart is working too hard and you can quickly change behavior to reduce its load.

Advanced heart rate monitors can also tailor your workout by demographics, such as your height, weight and age group – thus making your workout more effective and keeping you safe from injury.

Being Your Own Personal Trainer

Heart rate monitors can act as your own personal trainer. A monitor can tell you when you are ready to increase the intensity of your workout, when you need to tone it down a bit or when you’ve hit the sweet spot. 

Modern heart monitors are also very accurate, so you can use one as encouragement to know you are on the right track and doing the right thing.

Using As A Recovery Tool

When you finish your workout, you need to give your body plenty of time to rest and recover before working out again. Heart rate monitors can indicate when you’re ready to go again. This is because raster recovery rates are a sign that your heart capacity is increasing, also indicating better fitness and overall health.

These are some of the main advantages of using a heart rate monitor but there are plenty more. No matter whether you want to improve your workouts or you need to manage a heart problem, heart rate monitors provide ideal assistance.

The next part of this guide will show you what you need to look out for when choosing a heart rate monitor.

 

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