There are a number of different styles and types of wearable heart rate monitors available in the market and their function is the same – to take a running tally of what your heart rate is at any given moment. This helps you to work up towards your target heart rate and not exceed the maximum heart rate. If you are working out to get in shape, you need to know what is going on inside your body, how your heart is functioning, what amount of calories you are burning, etc. This will enable you to calculate the amount of food that you would be eating in order to achieve your goals.
- 1 Some Popular Wearable Heart Rate Monitors Compared
- 2 Wahoo Tickr X vs. Polar H7
- 3 How Wearable Heart Rate Monitors Work?
- 4 Types of Wearable Heart Rate Monitors
- 5 Best Wearable Heart Rate Monitors for Fitness Training
Some Popular Wearable Heart Rate Monitors Compared
|Image||Product||Type||Editor Rating (0-5)||Estimated Price Range|
|Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate + Fitness Wristband||Wristband with built-in HR sensor and display||4.1||$$$|
|Polar FT4 Heart Rate Monitor||External chest strap sensor + Wristband display||4.2||$$|
|Polar FT7 Heart Rate Monitor||External chest strap sensor + Wristband display||4.0||$$|
|Scosche Rhythm+ Heart Rate Monitor||Wristband sensor + Smartphone app||3.8||$$|
|Polar H7 Bluetooth Heart Rate Sensor||External chest strap sensor + Smartphone app||3.8||$|
|Wahoo TICKR Heart Rate Monitor||External chest strap sensor + Smartphone app||3.6||$|
|Garmin Premium Heart Rate Monitor||External chest strap sensor with ANT+ protocol||3.8||$|
|Polar A300 Fitness Tracker||External chest strap sensor + Wristband display||3.7||$$|
Wahoo Tickr X vs. Polar H7
|Product Features||Wahoo Tickr X||Polar H7|
|Dual Band Technology (Bluetooth 4.0 & ANT+)||Yes||Only Bluetooth|
|Real Time Tracking||Yes||Yes|
|Third Party App Compatibility||Works with numerous ANT+ and Bluetooth 4.0 compatible devices and apps.||Works best with Polar Beat app. Other supported apps are Endomondo, Cardio Mapper, Runtastic and iSmooth Run|
|Running Analytics: cadence, vertical oscillation, ground contact||Yes||No|
|Indoor Cycling Cadence||Yes||No|
|Water proof & sweat proof||Yes||Yes|
The Wahoo Tickr X is the most versatile HRM as it has Bluetooth and ANT plus built-in. Therefore, it will work with your Garmin devices as well as your Smartphone, your Polar products and your favorite fitness apps and more. The dual connection is great. It also has internal memory with storage up to 16 hours of workout time, so you can actually leave your phone behind and then sync your data to the Wahoo app when you are done with your workout. Additionally it has a feature that allows you to double tap on the device and it will perform certain tasks like skipping a song or marking a lap. You also have LED lights on the front that indicate when you have a lock on your heart rate and then when it’s connected to a device. The Tickr X also has additional sensors to record your running dynamics so your run cadence, cycling cadence your vertical oscillation and your ground contact time. You will need your phone and the Wahoo app for this to function.
The Polar H7 is a budget Bluetooth compatible heart rate monitor. It has the capability to record your heart rate while you are swimming if you use it with certain Polar devices. Since it uses Bluetooth LE (Low Energy), it can transmit your heart rate information to your iPhone and to your favorite fitness applications. It can transmit your heart rate under water.
How Wearable Heart Rate Monitors Work?
Heart rate is one of the best indicators of fitness. Monitoring it during fitness training can allow you to train to your maximum potential.
If you want to do specific aerobic exercises or training, a wearable heart rate monitor will allow you to exert the correct efforts and keep you in the right training zone. For instance, if you want to train aerobically, heart rate monitor will allow you to stay within the aerobic zone, which is typically 70 to 80 percent of your heart rate.
If you are looking to build on anaerobic fitness, which will improve your sprinting speeds and durations, then you will need to push into the anaerobic zone, which is around 80 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate.
A wearable heart rate monitor consists of two parts – a sensor and a computer or a head unit. The sensor is usually worn next to the skin and sends out biometric data to the head unit via a wireless protocol.
Depending on which head unit you have, you will be able to train, based on real time heart rate feedback or analyze your performance after the session using your computer.
There are different wireless protocols that allow you to connect heart rate sensors to your chosen device. The most common and probably the best is ANT+. You also see some devices that pair with devices using Bluetooth wireless protocol.
ANT+ and Bluetooth are standard protocols. These will pair with the devices that feature compatibility with either protocol. ANT+ is the most popular standard for exercise equipment and is widely supported by companies like Garmin.
If you are on a low budget then you may consider a Bluetooth based monitor as this will be compatible with a Smartphone that you may already own.
Types of Wearable Heart Rate Monitors
Chest strap sensors:
The EKG chest strap models measure the electrical activity within your heart using electrodes, which you need to strap onto your chest. They give out a digital readout of your heartbeats per minute (BPM). Typically, they need pairing with an external wrist monitor or a Smartphone app to give you the digital readout.
These chest strap models could be prone to interference because of the wireless technology used to transmit the data.
The advantage of using a chest strap sensor is that it is more accurate than the wearable heart rate monitor that uses optical sensors, as it is placed closer to your heart. This technology is preferred more amongst athletes and fitness trainers.
Optical wearable heart rate monitors:
The optical wearable heart rate monitors are based on LED technology and are found built into most fitness and smart watches. These optical sensors are in constant contact with your skin at all times. Typically, you can wear them on your wrist (Fitness wristbands) or clip them to your clothing.
The LED lights illuminate your blood capillaries or your blood vessels and measure the amount and the frequency of the blood flow. This sensor within your fitness watch will then send a digital readout of your heartbeat per minute.
The problem with this technology is that it is not as accurate for a person in motion, because the blood flow slows by the time it reaches your wrist. In addition, the skin tone of each person varies which can lead to inaccuracies.
The advantage is that they are more convenient to wear than a chest strap.
Best Wearable Heart Rate Monitors for Fitness Training
The cheaper built-in wearable HR monitors usually sample your heart rate once every minute or once every five minutes and over the course of your day, so you get an overview of your heart rate changes depending on whatever is going on.
When you are working out, especially with interval training or if you are trying to tune your workout based on what it is doing to your heart, you generally need a continuous heart rate monitor.
A continuous heart rate monitor samples your heart rate several times a second and this gives you a host of cool information. The wearable heart rate monitors with chest straps, available nowadays, usually give a continuous reading.
Therefore while looking for a good wearable heart rate monitor for your workouts and fitness activities, you should make sure that the sensor measures and transmits your continuous heart rate.
Polar H7 Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Sensor
The Polar H7 heart rate sensor works similarly to an EKG heart monitor sensing the electrical activity of the heart through sensors in the chest strap.
The sensors need a little bit of moisture to activate the unit and get a good reading.
The module in the front snaps in the strap, so you can replace the strap if it gets damaged. It contains the battery, Bluetooth low energy transceiver, as well as the original Polar coded 5k type transmitter. The unit itself is very durable, waterproof and shockproof.
The battery is easily replaceable with standard CR2025.
This device can also transmit your heart rate under water, so it is a good choice for swimmers.
Tips and features
- This device will not detect atrial fibrillation and should not be used as a diagnostic tool.
- Visit the manufacturer’s website for checking compatibility with various devices. (http://www.polar.com/us-en/support/compatibility_with_my_Polar?product_id=47470&category=faqs)
- This heart rate sensor does not store any data since it does not have any internal memory. Hence,while swimming, you will need to connect this sensor using 5 kHz coded transmission protocol, with a compatible device, preferably a waterproof wristband. This will transmit the sensor data to the connected device that will store this data in its internal memory. You can analyze the logged data after your session is over.
- The battery is not rechargeable, but can be easily replaced after it has drained out. The battery usually lasts for about 200 hours.
- This device does not support ANT protocol.
- The device automatically shuts off after you remove the sensor from the strap.
Garmin Heart-Rate Monitor
The Garmin soft strap wearable heart rate monitor is very popular and uses ANT plus protocol to transmit your heart rate to various fitness trackers and smartwatches.
Tips and features
- This sensor is available with a plastic strap or the more comfortable premium soft strap.
- This device does not support Bluetooth protocol. Therefore, it does not connect directly with Smartphone apps. It will only connect with compatible wristbands or watches e.g. Garmin activity trackers.
- The device has a water resistance up to 30 meters but cannot transmit data while swimming.
- The battery lasts for about 3 years if used for one hour each day. It is not rechargeable and can be replaced with a new CR2032 coin cell.
Wahoo TICKR Heart Rate Monitor
The Wahoo fitness TICKR is the most versatile wearable heart rate monitor because it has Bluetooth low energy and ANT plus transmitters built-in, to connect to a vast array of devices. It is worn on the chest using an attractive comfortable soft strap and has a LED indicator on the front to tell you when it is connected to something.
The unit is available in three variants. The TICKR Run and TICKRx can additionally measure your ground force contact and some other running specific metrics.
Tips and features
- This device works with a number of Smartphone apps. Check the list here. (http://www.wahoofitness.com/apps)
- It comes with a replaceable CR2032 coin cell battery, which lasts for about 12 months.
- It can transmit over Bluetooth LE and ANT plus simultaneously.
- Not recommended to be used while swimming.
Jarv Premium Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Monitor
The Jarv wearable heart rate monitor is the perfect mobile training device for runners, cyclists and any active person. The device features low power technology and works with over 50 apps.
It has a unique and simple design to provide a comfortable experience for an extended period of time. It delivers accurate real time heart rate data to your mobile device wirelessly. The waterproof strap is durable, comfortable and soft.
Tips and features
- This device transmits HR data using Bluetooth 4.0 LE (low energy) protocol.
- The device uses standard replaceable CR2032 coin cell battery that lasts several months.
- Jarv wearable heart rate monitor does not transmit data under water hence not suitable for swimming.
- Visit the manufacturer’s site for checking your phone’s compatibility with this device. (http://www.jarvmobile.com/faq.asp)