Heart rate monitors are used to monitor exercise intensity by measuring heart beats per minute (bpm).
The heart rate tracker provide accurate real-time information on how the heart is responding to an effort, allowing us to train at the right intensity. They are adopted in sport to achieve specific goals and also to avoid overtraining.
Generally used by athletes, people who want to lose weight but also by people with heart problems, heart rate monitors are easy to use, relatively inexpensive and can be used in any sport. Using a heart rate monitor we can achieve better results in less time. These devices can simplify your workouts, allowing you to focus only on what you are doing, without having to worry if your heart rate is too high or too low.
Heart rate monitor
There are two types, with chest strap or optical sensor. The thoracic belt-based solution provides more accurate data, thanks to higher sampling rates and a firm position near the heart. In optical sensors, an LED light passes through the skin of the wrist and a sensor detects reflected light; even if they are much more practical to use, they are not always the best choice for high intensity workouts, and in general for all other workouts that lead to rapid increases in heart rate.
Heart rate monitors provide immediate feedback on the intensity of our workouts so that we can adjust for maximum performance from each exercise. The goal is to train in our heart rate target for maximum impact. The heart rate monitor therefore allows us to monitor the heart in real time, working in specific areas of heart rate (in technical language “target zone”). They are a fundamental element in the preparation, with which you can manage workouts in a targeted way.
The heart rate monitor also provides heart rate data at rest, an important indicator for the state of our physical form. Resting heart rate decreases as the heart becomes stronger with aerobic training. A low FCR indicates better fitness in people who follow a training program. Adults with a good fitness level may have a resting heart rate below 60 bpm and in some elite athletes it may be below 40 bpm. Calculating the calories burned is another fundamental task of a good heart rate monitor. Without heart rate data, the number of calories burned can not be calculated accurately, as burning calories is directly correlated with heart rate.
Monitoring heart rate is therefore one of the most important parameters when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle and improving one’s fitness. The main purpose of this page is to help you choose the heart rate monitor that best suits your needs at the best online prices. For users who are looking for a simple product to monitor heart rate, a monitor with simple functionality may be sufficient, on the contrary, competitive athletes may need a product that offers all the latest features to get the most out of own training. In this guide we recommend some of the best heart rate monitors available today.
Best heart rate monitor for running
1. Garmin Vivosport
The GPS multisport smartwatch hidden in a bracelet.
Garmin Vivosport is one of the smallest fitness trackers with GPS tracking, optical heart rate monitor and built-in barometric altimeter. It’s a very light bracelet (about 25 grams) and very similar in design to the Vivosmart 3. The 72 × 144 pixel Chroma always on display is rather small but perfectly legible in all environmental conditions; brightness level and orientation are adjustable. No physical buttons, interaction is only via the touch screen. Vivosport is easy enough to use, just learn the two gestures on which menu navigation is based.
The back of the tracker houses the heart rate optical sensor powered by Garmin’s Elevate technology, which detects readings every second while monitoring heart rate. As an activity tracker the device detects steps, calories, distance, heart rate, activity level, staircases and sleep quality. It also provides the maximum consumption of VO2 max oxygen, Fitness Age and the Stress Level in 24 hours. It is possible to record indoor and outdoor workouts for walking, running, cycling, cardio, resistance, etc. In resistance training mode, Vivosport also counts sets and repetitions.
2. Garmin Vivoactive 3
Regardless of the sport you prefer, Vivoactive 3 is one of the most versatile GPS watches on the market.
Vivoactive 3 is a GPS with many practical functions to use as an everyday watch. It works very well in monitoring sports such as running, cycling, swimming, gym, skiing, sup and golf. Like the previous Vivoactive HR model, it is equipped with Elevate optical heart rate monitor, monitors all the day’s activities and the quality of sleep. Vivoactive 3 allows you to calculate your VO2 max score, fitness age and stress level throughout the day. The color touch screen display is very bright and easy to read during a workout.
In running you can view many important statistics in real time such as distance, pace and heart rate. After synchronizing the run on our Garmin Connect account, you will be able to view a route map. With Vivoactive 3, Garmin also introduces the contactless payment system Garmin Pay with which you can simply pay by bringing the watch close to the appropriate terminals. The configuration of Garmin Pay is done from the Garmin Connect Mobile app and is quite simple. You need to add credit card information. The whole process takes only a few minutes.
3. Polar M430
A good tool for runners with better heart rate and GPS detection.
Considered by runners among the best heart rate monitors, the Polar M430 incorporates all the best features of the previous M400, adding optical heart rate measurement to the wrist, a more sensitive GPS, sleep monitoring and smart notifications. In addition to all the key metrics in the best running watches, such as pace, distance, speed and heart rate, the device is also a complete activity tracker for everyday activity. The M430 maintains the monochrome display. No color touchscreen, data is simply clear and easy to read during the race. The five-button controls are the same as those of the M400 and just as responsive. Polar M430 also has an important Fitness Test function that uses the optical heart rate monitor to perform a quick assessment of the level of aerobic fitness.
The test takes about 5 minutes and uses resting heart rate, heart rate variability and other personal information for an estimate of the VO2 Max (for Polar OwnIndex). From the Polar Flow analysis platform you can connect with third-party apps to spread all the data directly in Strava, Nike +, MyFitnessPal, Training Peaks, or share them on social media. The device has a 240 mAh battery that provides autonomy for 8 hours of training with GPS + optical heart rate monitor, and up to 20 days if you use it only as a watch-activity tracker.
heart rate fitness tracker
4. Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR
A robust multisport GPS watch that tracks lots of activities.
It is the latest version of the Suunto Spartan GPS line of watches and includes most, if not all, of the top features of Suunto. As can be guessed from the name Wrist HR, the new feature of this watch compared to the other models in the Spartan series, is the inclusion of an optical sensor for detecting heart rate from the wrist. The Valencell sensor provides reliable heart rate data for training even without a heart rate monitor. Measuring heart rate while swimming in water is one of the most difficult things to achieve with an optical HR sensor: Wrist HR remains enabled in swimming, as in any sport, allowing us to view the heartbeat in real time, recording it with others data.
Spartan Sport Wrist HR is water resistant to 100 meters and supports swimming in open water, swimming in the pool and triathlon. Supports more than 80 sports profiles including running, cycling, swimming etc. In the race you get distance, speed, pace, time information, heart rate, direction and cadence. Double GPS and GLONASS satellite system for a fast and accurate signal. Compatible with various Bluetooth LE sensors including Suunto’s Smart HR sensor, speed / cadence sensors, power meters and foot pods. With Movescount you can load and analyze workouts, plan routes using Heatmaps, receive smart notifications, etc. Movescount allows the personalization of the device, compare and compete with other users.
5. TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + Music
Among the best GPS watches to monitor your heart rate and listen to music while you train.
TomTom has been active in the GPS industry for many years, and Spark 3 is one of its latest devices, available in four versions: basic, music, cardio, and cardio + music. TomTom Spark 3 has the same black and white 168 X 144 pixel display of the previous Spark.
The screen is not touchscreen, and to navigate the menus you use a four-way touchpad positioned just below the screen. On the device there are seven different sports modes: running, cycling, swimming, treadmill, gym, indoor and freestyle. Once a mode has been chosen, the device starts recording the workout showing all the information, including distance, time, average pace, current step, heart rate and a route track.
TomTom Spark 3 also includes a complete activity tracker to monitor steps, distance, calories and sleep quality. One of the most innovative things compared to the previous model is the new route exploration function, which shows a track of the route and can help us find the way back to the starting point. The watch uses the built-in compass to display the direction immediately. It is also possible to add paths to the clock: the TomTom desktop app supports GPX file upload, which is the most common form for GPS data. With the built-in memory you can store up to 500 music tracks and listen via Bluetooth with the included earphones.
6. Polar M400
Combines the simplicity of an activity tracker with the GPS and cardio capabilities of high-end devices.
The Polar M400 has a small black and white display surrounded by a black frame bordered by a thin red border. The device always clearly shows the time and date; other screens show the daily activity level, a history for past days activities, settings, fitness tests and the timer. On the right side of the clock three buttons allow navigation between the various menus, while on the left side a button activates the backlight and the lower one acts as a back button.
Heart rate information is displayed both in beats per minute (bpm) and fc zones, configurable online through Polar Flow. In addition to GPS mode, the Polar M400 includes a complete activity tracker for step counting and an estimate of the distance traveled. Also present the functionality for sleep monitoring. The battery life is about 9 hours with GPS active and up to 24 days used as a daily activity tracker (pedometer).
7. Fitbit Ionic
Attractive smartwatch with a large color display and excellent battery life.
At a glance the new Fitbit smartwatch seems a cross between Apple Watch 3 Series and Fitbit Blaze, especially for the rectangular LCD display that distinguishes it from most rival smartwatches. Ionic is available in various colors, and thanks to the quick release strap is easy to customize to suit all occasions. Fitbit Ionic is based on the new Fitbit OS, which offers complete support for third-party applications, inheriting this feature from the Pebble smartwatch. With Fitbit OS you have immediate access to all the features of the device: notifications, music, settings, find the app or start a workout.
Fitbit has its own App Gallery (https://www.fitbit.com/fitbitos), where you can find a wide assortment of apps, including Fitness app for Fitbit Exercise, Fitbit Coach, Relax, Timer etc. These apps are all specially designed for Ionic, eliminating the need for duplicate apps on your smartphone. The main apps at launch include Pandora (US only), Starbucks Coffee, Strava and AccuWeather. The Fitbit Coach app in Fitbit Ionic offers three strength training. After the training you can find the results in the chronology of the exercises. At the moment, the present exercises are: 10 minutes of abs, 7 minute workout and treasure chest. With Ionic, Fitbit takes a step forward even in sleep monitoring, classifying it into four categories: awake, REM, light and deep. The app shows the pattern of nighttime rest in an easy-to-understand graph showing the periods of time spent in the various stages of sleep.
8. Garmin Forerunner 35
A perfect GPS watch for running with heart rate monitor and smartphone notifications.
It is a great watch for all runners and especially for those who for the first time approach the GPS / activity tracker devices. Record each run, walk and can be used both outdoors and indoors. The integrated GPS allows you to accurately monitor time, speed and pace as well as see on a map the route we have made. Garmin Forerunner 35 uses Garmin Elevate technology to detect heart rate from the wrist, monitor heart rate zones, instant heart rate and calculate calories burned.
In addition to being a complete activity tracker for counting steps, distance, calories burned and sleep quality, it provides vibration alerts and smart notifications, automatically uploads data via Bluetooth to the Garmin Connect online platform and allows the user to track the tracks music on your phone. Forerunner 35 also has a new high-contrast display that can be read in all conditions. The numbers are large and easy to read. During a workout, each data page shows three metrics, and for each you can set the data we prefer. Present the Virtual Pacer, a useful feature Garmin perfect when you are running alone and you want to have instant feedback on a precise pace. Overall a clock easy to use, without unnecessary things, comfortable to wear and available with straps of different colors.
9. Samsung Gear Fit 2 Pro
Stylish in design, with Gear Fit 2 Pro Samsung further improves its extraordinary line of smartwatches.
Gear Fit 2 Pro is the latest fitness tracker from Samsung that takes the place of the previous Gear Fit 2. The wearable comes with a silicone strap, available in small or large, and has a slightly curved central body with a touchscreen 1.5 inch rectangular Super AMOLED (216 x 432 pixels). Two physical control keys are located on the right side. The main body has a thickness of about 1 cm and weighs only 34 g.
Despite its small size, the device has 500 MB of RAM and 4 GB of integrated memory, of which 2 can be used; accelerometer, barometric sensor, gyro, optical cardio sensor and GPS. The display is one of the brightest and clearest. High brightness and bright colors make Gear Fit2 Pro menu navigation a breeze, ensuring it remains legible in bright light conditions. The inclusion of a storage memory is a very positive factor because it means to be able to store songs from compatible apps, for example Spotify, directly in the device.
This eliminates the need to carry the smartphone behind to listen to music. The Tizen user interface is improved, the operating system is equipped with various dials that allow you to choose the desired information directly on the main page. From this you can scroll left or right to view notifications and the various pages of data, from reading the heart rate, to the current step count or the local weather. The information shown is completely customizable. Gear Fit 2 Pro works on both Android and iOS. The matching process is quite simple: it requires you to download the Samsung Gear app and follow a series of instructions on the screen. Unlike the Gear Fit 2, Gear Fit 2 Pro comes with a 5 ATM waterproofing. This means that it can withstand up to 50 meters underwater.
10. Polar FT7
Precise heart rate monitor with chest band, for years considered as one of the best.
The Polar FT7 heart rate monitor tracks our heart rate and the calories we burn very efficiently, plus it’s very easy to use. The display shows the time and day of the week, the backlighting allows perfect visibility even in low light conditions. A sound alarm alerts us every time we leave the limits (lower and upper) of the set training zone.
It’s a great tool for those who need to lose weight that allows you to scroll through different data while training like instant heart rate, calories burned and session duration. Thanks to Polar Energy Pointer we can always know if we are working at the right intensity. Polar FT7 water resistant up to a depth of 30m and a user replaceable battery with low battery indicator. It is a simple and reliable device, chosen by many people.
11. Polar V800
Launched in 2014, it is still a reference point for many runners and triathletes.
The multisport V800 watch has a large high-contrast black and white display protected by scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass optimized for low light conditions. With its advanced training features, the Polar V800 is the ultimate choice for the most ambitious triathletes. The main features include GPS technology for speed and distance and the barometric altimeter for altitude and altitude data.
It has customizable profiles for multiple sports and changes automatically from one activity to another while also recording transition times. The interface is easy to navigate and everything is completely customizable. The watch integrates a 24/7 activity monitor which, through an accelerometer, records our every movement and provides important information for recovery. The Polar V800 also has a number of other unique features including heart rate monitoring while swimming. The battery life is 14 hours and is impermeable to 30m depth.
12. Garmin Forerunner 15
A simple and reliable GPS clock chosen by many runners.
Available in two sizes and a variety of colors, the Garmin Forerunner 15 tracks the steps, distance traveled and calories burned. There is a running / walking function that can be used for interval training. It is possible to set how long you want to switch between running and when the watch is activated it will alert you when it is time to change. An interesting feature of the Forerunner 15 is the Virtual Pacer which allows you to maintain a specific rhythm during a race.
When you go faster or slower, a sound alert and on the display will alert you if you slow down or accelerate. Another very useful feature is the FC alarm that alerts you when our pulse is below or above the set heart rate. Battery life is quite good. The clock has an autonomy of about 5 weeks used as an activity tracker or eight hours with the GPS enabled, more than enough time to finish a marathon. Waterproof at 50mt which means that it can also be worn in the pool.
13. TomTom Cardio Multisport GPS
Equipped with an optical heart rate sensor and GPS to easily record specific data for a vast number of sports.
The GPS Runner Cardio and Multisport Cardio watches are very similar to each other and both have LED monitoring of the heart rate directly from the wrist. Thanks to the five heart rate zones you can always train at the right intensity, getting alerts to know when we need to accelerate or slow down. The easy-to-read display allows you to monitor all important parameters at a glance.
Tom tom sports
The TomTom Cardio Multisport GPS supports a cycling mode (with which you can use a Bluetooth Smart Speed / Cadence sensor) and a swim mode to record workouts in the pool. The unit works as a normal watch in non-GPS mode with a range of several weeks. TomTom recently introduced the ability to upload workouts via smartphone to the TomTom MySports website via Bluetooth Smart.