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Best Heart Rate Monitors

Generally, most heart rate monitor/fitness trackers cost between $75-$250. If you pay less than $75 you will find mediocre accuracy which defeats the purpose of tracking. More expensive options with a GPS feature are tailored toward athletes and exercise enthusiasts and may not be necessary.

What sport do you participate in? Swimmers will want a waterproof tracker, but keep in mind that not all water-safe trackers actually track swimming. Runners will probably want a watch that shows time, distance, pace, and lap time, at the very least. Cyclists have even more considerations. There's a difference between tracking how many miles you pedal and calories you burn versus monitoring your power and cadence.

Heart rate monitors come in two forms: chest strap or optical sensor.  

Chest Strap Monitoring

Chest strap heart rate monitors measure electrical signals generated by your heart when it contracts.  Because of its direct contact over the heart a chest strap tends to be more accurate. The downside of the chest strap is ease of use and comfort. If not wrapped tightly around the chest it can easily slip out of place and is difficult to reposition while moving. The chest strap is primarily used by runners and cyclists, but is not practical for long-term monitoring of resting heart rate.

See blog on technology accuracy

Optical Sensor Monitoring

Optical wrist sensor monitors are the most common pulse sensors. Heart rate data is measured using photoplethysmography. This is a process of using small LED lights to refract off of blood flow to determine pulse readings. There can be periodic connectivity issues with the watch that cause a slight lag in measuring spikes in heart rates. Overall, this is a far more comfortable way to monitor heart rate especially for long-term monitoring of resting heart rate.

Which chest strap gives you the best bang for your buck?

These two options ranked the highest on PC magazines list for 2019 and 2018.

Built in memory stores heart rate data from one training session that can be transferred to Polar Flow or Polar Beat App.

Enhanced battery life of 400 hours of operation time on a user replaceable battery.

Water resistance up to 30M makes this band suitable for swimming.

Built in memory stores 16 hours worth of workout data. If you record more than that without syncing then the unit will start deleting the oldest workouts first to free up memory.

Battery life: The CR2032 ion batter has a life up to 12 months.

Water resistance up to 5M which makes this product marginal for swimming.

Which optical wrist sensor gives you the best bang for your buck?

The Apple watch leads the way in optical wrist sensor technology and has two affordable options that not only include heart rate data, but also sleep data.

Improved algorithm: Better measure of calorie burn and resting heart rate with 24/7 heart rate tracking.

Training versatility: Choose from 15+ exercise modes like run, bike, swim, yoga, etc. This watch helps you set goals and get real time stats during your workouts.

Battery life: Up to 7 days (varies with use)

Swim proof and water resistance: Up to 50 M.  This allows you track swims and even wear in the shower. Connecting to smartphone GPS gives real-time pace and distance.

Improved algorithm: Get 24/7 continuous heart rate tracking in this slim design. Easy reboot solves syncing problems without deleting data.

Workout zones: Use zones to find the right workout intensity for your goals these include: Fat Burn, Cardio, and Peak.

Battery life: Up to 7 days (varies with use)

Syncing: Syncs stats wirelessly & automatically to computers and 200+ leading iOS, Android and Windows devices