How to choose a heart rate monitor

When choosing a heart rate monitor, you should pay attention first the intended use (sports in which it is planned track heart rate).

choose a heart rate monitor

How to choose a heart rate monitor: basic criteria

The most important characteristics when choosing a heart rate monitor are:

  1. Type (location) of the heart rate monitor;

  2. Sensitivity of the photometric sensor;

  3. Battery life and charging method;

  4. The presence of a “bundle” with the phone;

  5. Additional functionality.

  6. The manufacturer is also important.

Types of heart rate monitors

By type of placement and design, sports heart rate monitors They are divided into three types:

  1. Lapel with wireless module;

  2. Lapel with watch;

  3. Wrist Watch).

Chest Heart Rate Monitor with Wireless Module

Breast heart rate monitors

Such devices consist of two functional elements – elastic strap and heart rate sensor (HR). As the name implies, they are placed directly on the chest. Moreover, the heart rate sensor is installed so that analyze the frequency of heart contractions directly. it provides maximum measurement accuracy.

Heart rate data transmitted wirelessly Bluetooth networks directly to your smartphone. Thereby a special mobile application records the history of measurements and warns of an increase in heart rate with a sound signal or vibration. The disadvantage is the need to constantly carry a smartphone – for example, placing it in a belt on a shoulder, wrist or belt.

Before buying such a heart rate monitor, you should make sure that the smartphone you use will be compatible with it. Almost all sports devices require a companion device to work on Android 4.0, iOS 9.0 or later systems, and also supported at least Bluetooth 4.0. However, All smartphones released after 2012 meet these requirements. of the year.

Watch straps

Chest straps with watches

In terms of design, this type of heart rate monitor is no different from the previous – the heart rate sensor is placed on an elastic strap, and you need to wear it on your chest. However, heart rate information sent not to a connected smartphone, but to a special remote display made in the form factor of watches. About extreme A high heart rate device warns through vibration.

This type of heart rate monitor has two advantages over previous one. Firstly, to view the current heart rate is enough lower your gaze to your wrist. Secondly, the autonomy of these heart rate monitors are very high – up to several weeks from one batteries (typically used CR batteries).

The disadvantage of this type of heart rate monitor is the lack of history. measurements. Or it is, but for a short period – about a few days. All measured heart rate data is stored in memory. remote display, and it is usually very small.

Heart Rate Monitor


Heart rate watches use the photometric method heart rate counting. A special module constantly translucent the skin and the characteristics of the reflected light analyzes the pulse. Similar technology is not only found in sports watches heart rate monitors, but also in some fitness bracelets, smart watches and similar companion devices.

The main advantage of the heart rate monitors made in this form factor – ease of use. They do not hold down at all movements, unlike chest ones, and are not felt on the wrist due to its low mass.

But at the same time, the accuracy of measurements may not be too high. The quality of the photometric analysis of heart rate varies depending on skin tone, condition of the epidermis, the degree of sweating, and even device location. Therefore, wrist heart rate monitors in the format hours are suitable only for beginner athletes who avoid serious physical exertion “to the limit stamina. ”

Which to choose?

The choice of the form factor of the device is determined by the planned physical activity:

  1. For fitness, morning and evening runs, regular simple training (for example, sports matches) heart rate monitor. It does not constrain movement, and a possible inaccuracy in pulse determination is compensated by a low level of load;

  2. For marathon races, active sports or extreme recreation – chest heart rate monitor with remote watch display;

  3. For cross-fit, intense sports, exhausting runs and similar highly trained physical exercises the athlete himself – a chest heart rate monitor with a wireless module.

  4. Chest heart rate monitor with remote display clock thanks precision and high data rate suitable for amateur athletes who have just recently started practicing active physical activity. Models with a wireless module best suited for hardy athletes who do not need constant monitoring of heart rate and warning about exceeding the safe parameter.

Choosing a heart rate monitor for running

For running, optical wrist pulsometers with tight a sitting strap. Breastplates may constrain the chest, leading to shortness of breath.

The main criteria for choosing a heart rate monitor

criteria for choosing a heart rate monitor

Photometric Sensor Sensitivity and Accuracy measurements

This is the most important parameter for optical heart rate monitors: those which are placed on the wrist and use technology plethysmography. Unfortunately, manufacturers rarely indicate sensor specifications and measurement accuracy. Therefore have rely on reviews of satisfied – or dissatisfied – users.

Generally speaking, the accuracy of plethysmographic heart rate measurement high enough for most users. Indicators may vary within plus or minus 5 beats per minute, which is not particularly critical. Manufacturers sports heart rate monitors use high-quality, tight-fitting to the skin and sensors sensitive to optical changes.

Unfortunately, most ultra-budget fitness bracelets the price segment cannot be said the same. Therefore, if required high accuracy of heart rate measurement, it is recommended to pay attention It is on sports heart rate monitors, not analogues.

If greater sensitivity is required (up to absolute accuracy), it is recommended to choose a chest heart rate monitor of any type.

Battery life and charging method

Wrist optical heart rate and chest strap with wireless overwhelmingly equipped with a module the battery. Its capacity directly determines the battery life device operation. Accordingly, the higher it is, the better. But this – comparative characteristic (i.e. pay attention to it only when choosing between two heart rate monitors).

Heart rate monitors with a built-in battery are charged through matching complete power supply that can connect with the device as a micro-USB cable, or some proprietary. The first option is preferable, since such there are plenty of charges on the market.

Chest heart rate monitors with an external display in the clock form factor usually run on CR batteries, also known as “flat” sentries. “Their capacities are sufficient for several weeks of regular use of the device. Then of course the batteries will have to replace.

The presence of a “bundle” with the phone

Connecting to a phone via Bluetooth is quite useful function. Thanks to her, you can collect heart rate statistics for extended period and tracking changes in heart rate when equal loads.

Heart rate monitors that support connecting to the phone will work people suffering from any kind of heart disease (to change physical activity, reducing or increasing it), and also just statistics lovers.

Additional functions

Among the most useful additional features you can highlight:

  1. Waterproof housing. Important for extreme lovers sports, as well as those who are not afraid of a workout in bad weather;

  2. The presence of a GPS module. Important for accurate tracking of runs, marathons and other physical activity involving moving over long distances;

  3. Cardiozone recognition. Only found in breastplates heart rate monitors. Important for people with angina pectoris, tachycardia and similar heart diseases in which heart rate changes due to problems in a particular area of ​​the heart;

  4. Recognition of activities. Such heart rate monitors themselves analyze user behavior and distinguish, for example, running from riding a bike. The function is useful for people who collect all information about physical activity.

  5. Among the “highly specialized” useful functions – measurement body temperature, galvanic skin sensors, analysis sweating levels, integration with ecosystems Runtastic, Endomondo, Google Fit, Apple Health, etc.

Top manufacturers

Among the manufacturers of heart rate monitors are:

  1. Runtastic Known for its sports ecosystem manufacturer;

  2. Polar Issues sports accessories;

  3. Nexx, YouWell, Sigma, iSport. Quality but inexpensive heart rate monitors;

  4. Mio, Fitbit. The best heart rate monitors in the clock form factor.

In the following articles, our experts tell you how to choose Nordic walking poles and secrets to choosing fitness bracelet.

Attention! This material is subjective opinion of the authors of the project and is not a buying guide.

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