Technology has advanced to such levels that every single gadget gets constantly upgraded with additional features and benefits. We also are so dependent on gadgets and electronic devices that we become quite demanding in terms of the features. When it comes to gadgets such as fitness trackers or smartwatches, a heart rate reading is expected to be a feature by default.
Initially, the premium feature in such devices was the optical heart rate monitor, but nowadays, even the most budget-friendly fitness bands offer the heart rate reading while working out. Click here to read about the Best Smartwatch with heart rate monitor. Read about the Best Heart Rate monitor Watch 2020.
Nowadays these fitness gadgets offer features that are beyond the basic features like monitoring of the heart rate. For example, the Apple Watch- WatchOS 5 gives you information on whether your heart rate is high or low even when you are not working out. Click here in order to know which is the best HRM for iPhones.
You can also check out the best fitness tracker with a heart rate monitor. This helps a person as it provides information which can indicate if there are serious issues. And then comes Series 4 which comes with an electrical sensor that helps in taking an electrocardiogram.
Hence, in gadgets like these, one pays a price for accuracy. There are gadgets which provide medical alerts, however, they have to pass through the US Food and Drug Association, in order to provide such information ( e.g. Apple watch Series 4).
Check out the Best Heart Rate Monitor Chest Strap which is the most accurate of all the devices. Always make sure that your device provides accurate information on the heart rate as it can help you assess the overall health and motivate you to achieve your fitness goals.
Click here to know about some of the Best Heart Rate Monitors Over 300$. Read on to know and understand the benefits of using a heart rate monitor.
How to get started?
When you get yourself a smartwatch, make sure it comes with the feature of a heart rate monitor. The technology used in such gadgets is called wrist heart rate technology and it makes use of LEDs to observe the blood flow in the wrist and measure your heart rate.
This helps you to view your heart rate information while working out and without using a chest strap. An example is the Suunto watch by Valencell Inc.
The accuracy of the measurement of the heart rate is vital when it comes to purchasing such gadgets. It is influenced by various factors as well as individual differences and hence should be treated as a near estimate. You must read about the Most Accurate Heart Rate Monitor -covered in 60.
For the best results
1. Warm up: Always ensure to warm-up before you begin the actual workout or training, as this helps in increasing the heart rate. This also makes sure that your device provides accurate and stable heart rate readings.
In case the device doesn’t capture the heart rate while you are working out, you need to pause the device for about 10-30 seconds. when the watch begins to capture the heart rate, you can continue the workout. Check out some of the Best Heart Rate Monitors under 200$.
2. The watch should fit right: Make sure that the smartwatch fits right and is not very loose as the sensor should be in direct contact with the skin. You must not be able to see the light reflecting from the sensor.
Also, avoid wearing the watch too tight as this can cut the blood flow and the sensor will not be able to monitor your heart rate properly.
3. Keep the watch clean all the time: The watch must be removed regularly and the strap and watch can be cleaned using water and mild soap. Dry it well before you wear the watch again. It is advised to wash the device post every single heavy workout.
In case you want to get rid of the lotions or oil that are trapped below the strap, use a mild soap and rinse and dry it off well. You can also switch your watch to the other wrist to give your skin some rest.
Keep a note of any food or substances that you are allergic to as these can lead to irritation of skin quite quickly. Click here to know the Best HRM for HIIT Training.
4. Functioning of an optical heart rate monitor: Generally, the underside of the watch has the optical heart rate sensor. The watch must fit just right and not be tight. The sensor makes use of LED lights that reflect onto your skin and measures the blood flow. This enables the device to determine the heart rate based on changes taking place in the blood pulse rate or blood volume.
Factors that affect Heart Rate Measurement
Although smartwatches are an easy way of measuring the heart rate, one must remember that accuracy and dependability is the key area to be looked into while purchasing such devices. Such devices accuracy varies from one person to another. You can also read some of the Best Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitors available in the market
The factors that might affect heart rate measurement have been identified and are listed as under:
1. In case you exercise in areas which have cold temperatures, the body will try to maintain stability in the temperature of the body by directing the flow of blood from the limbs to the core of the body. This can create issues for the sensor and might not give an accurate heart rate measurement.
2. Ensure to have a proper warm-up before beginning the workouts if you have issues of cold hands. This will enhance the accuracy of the heart rate monitor.
3. Any sport or activity which involves a lot of movement and vibration can affect the accuracy of the heart rate monitor, for example, sports like tennis, mountain biking, or activities that involve a lot of arm movement or even cross-fit training.
4. While swimming, the water might pass right under the watch where the optical sensor is located and this might affect the readings and the accuracy of the heart rate monitor. Check out some of the Best Heart Rate Monitors for Swimmers.
5. Highly pigmented tattoos also can deter accurate readings from the heart rate sensor.
Tips for Troubleshooting
1. Ensure the software of the device is updated: Always make sure that your smartwatch has the latest updated software version. This will ensure that you get the best heart rate performance. Companies keep making changes, fixing bugs, improve their software in order to enhance the performance of your gadget.
You must update yourself about these developments and learn about the software updates and learn how to get it installed in your smartwatch or other gadgets.
2. Failure to record the heart rate data: At times your watch may fail to record the heart rate data. There are three instances mentioned below:
Regular use: if you use your watch daily and you notice that the optical sensor has failed and the LED lights do not blink, you must cross check if the daily heart rate has been activated. Recheck the settings. This will ensure the heart rate is tracked continuously when the device is used daily.
3. During workout: If the optical sensor doesn’t work before you start your workout, check the pairing of the device with the heart rate belt. Pairing failure can lead to such an issue. If neither of these two tips help, do a soft reset which will enable the watch to pick up the pulse.
At the beginning of a workout, the device shows an extremely high or low reading. Right at the start of your workout, if your watch gives you an inaccurate or incorrect reading of the heart rate, try warming-up, which can be either of the two mentioned below:
4. Warm-up workout for your body: the blood flow to your limbs Is the base on which the quality of your heart rate device depends. A good warm-up for approximately 10-15 minutes will lead to an increase in the flow of blood and also improve the readings.
5. Warming up the heart rate sensor: The optical sensor also requires little time to get a base heart rate. What you can do is get the start screen on minutes before you actually begin the workout.
6. Get a chest heart rate sensor for the most accurate reading: As we all are already aware, a chest strap is the most accurate of all the heart rate devices (For example Suunto Smart Sensor). Making use of a chest strap belt will help you get an accurate heart rate reading even if the watch is placed on the bike handlebar or even if it is on the sleeve. Have a look at some of the Best Heart Rate Monitor Chest Strap.
If you pair the chest strap belt with your smartwatch, an icon in the shape of a heart with a belt will reflect on the screen. If you only use the smartwatch heart rate monitor, the icon will be heart shaped only. You can also check out some of the Best Heart rate monitors without a chest strap.
Sportspersons or athletes would always prefer the use of a chest strap as it gives you a more accurate reading. However, the drawbacks of this chest strap are that it cannot send notifications in case your heart rate is going too high or too low, it cannot measure the stress or sleep levels, doesn’t guide you through the various breathing exercises, etc.
It doesn’t provide many important features that a smartwatch or any other Best fitness tracker with heart rate monitors provide.
With time, technology is constantly developing and improving and bringing about new changes in the heart rate monitor devices. Very soon, smartwatches and fitness trackers will be able to replace a chest strap completely.