Best Heart Rate Monitors Guide In 2019 (Our Reviews)

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Everyone wants to get the most out of their exercise, and when it comes to burning fat and getting in shape, your heart rate plays a significant role. To get the most fat-burning power possible, you’ll want to maintain a high number of beats per minute. But how do you track your heart rate without stopping to check your pulse every few minutes? A heart rate monitor conveniently on your chest or wrist will do the job for you.

Below we’ve collected some of the most popular heart rate monitors on the market, giving you a rundown of their pros, cons, and why you should consider them. While you won’t go wrong with any of the selections, the best option for you will depend on how each suits your needs.

​Heart Rate Monitors Comparison Chart

IMAGEPRODUCT
EDITOR'S CHOICE 1. ​Mio Alpha 2 Heart Rate Watch
  • STRAPLESS, off the wrist, EKG accurate heart rate monitoring
  • Highly accurate internal accelerometer providing feedback on speed, distance and pace
  • Easy to use straight from the box
  • 1 or 5 heart rate zones (user configurable via Mio Go App)
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RUNNER UP ​2. ​​Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate
  • ​Slick design
  • ​Tracks sleep and fitness in real time
  • ​Call and text notifications
  • ​Up to 5-day battery life
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​3. ​​​Garmin Forerunner 235
  • Wrist Based heart rate
  • Activity Tracker with Movebar and inactivity alerts
  • Brilliant Garmin Connect APP for iOs and Android smartphone
  • VO2 Max predictor for fitness testing progress
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​4. ​​​​Wahoo Fitness TICKR X Heart Rate Monitor
  • ​Sweatproof and waterproof (5m rating)
  • ​Running analytics
  • ​App compatibility extends functionality
  • ​Slick design
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​5. ​​​​​Polar FT1 Heart Rate Monitor
  • Heart Rate Zone control
  • Self contained unit, no reliance on PC/laptop or phone
  • 18 month battery from CR2032 coincell battery
  • High HR Accuracy from T31 chest strap
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Our ​Heart Rate Monitors Guide Reviews

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​The Alpha 2 from Mio is a wristwatch-based option for people who are interested in tracking their heart rate while exercising in the pool or outdoors. Compared to other options, it comes at one of the higher price points you’ll see for a heart rate monitor, but its integration with popular fitness apps extends functionality and you get peace of mind with the 1-year warranty.

The watch is adjustable to be able to fit around wrist sizes varying from 5.3” to 7.5”, and tracks any daily activity being done. This includes workouts with step counter, distance, pace, and calories burned. You can set your target fat-burning zone and be alerted by the display when you fall out of it so you don’t sweat for no reason.

The memory will hold up to 25 hours of stored workout data, and the Mio app will further add to the experience. This will allow you to get all the correct data needed, taking in info from your age, gender, resting heart rate, and maximum heart rate for more accurate readings.

This device can be connected to a swimming tracker app and used at depth of 30M or shallower, such as a lap pool.

  • Type: Wristwatch
  • Uses Bluetooth and ANT+: Both
  • With onboard memory: Yes
  • Accurate: Yes
  • Comfort: Adjustable band
  • Durable: Yes
  • Build quality: Good
  • LED and vibration feedback: Both
  • Comfortable: Yes
  • Good battery life: Average
  • Waterproof: Up to 30m
  • Lightweight: Yes
  • Display: LED
  • Rechargeable battery: Yes; 24-hour life
  • Can tracks all-day activity: Yes
  • Provides feedback on sleep: No
  • Connectivity features: Bluetooth and ANT+
  • Connectivity: Wireless
  • Easy-to-use app: Yes
  • SPECS
  • WHAT I LIKE
  • WHAT I DON'T LIKE
  • Pros/cons overview
  • VIDEO
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​The Charge 2 from Fitbit is currently one of the most popular heart rate and fitness tools on the market today. It is able to track anything from your real-time fitness stats and can notify you of any calls, texts, or upcoming calendar events. It comes at a slightly higher price point compared to your average heartrate monitor, but with the potential effects it can have on your life many find it to be a worthy purchase since it is also backed by a 1-year warranty.

The display includes the necessities of any watch, providing date and time next to your heart rate so it’s easy to quickly reference as you exercise.

With this device you’ll find not only a simple heartrate monitor, but also other great features like the ability to track in real-time when you fall asleep, how long you’re asleep, and then the ability to wake with a silent vibrating alarm.

Another great feature is the ability to set the device to very specific workouts. Whether you’re playing a sport like basketball, doing intense cardio, or lifting weights it is important to differentiate the statistics to get the correct information for you.

  • Type: Wristwatch
  • Uses Bluetooth and ANT+: Bluetooth
  • With onboard memory: No
  • Accurate: Yes
  • Comfort: Yes
  • Durable: Yes
  • Build quality: Solid
  • LED and vibration feedback: Yes
  • Comfortable: Yes
  • Good battery life: Yes
  • Waterproof: No
  • Lightweight: Yes
  • Display: OLED
  • Rechargeable battery: Yes
  • Can tracks all-day activity: Yes
  • Provides feedback on sleep: Yes
  • Connectivity features: Bluetooth
  • Connectivity: Wireless
  • Easy-to-use app: No
  • SPECS
  • WHAT I LIKE
  • WHAT I DON'T LIKE
  • Pros/cons overview
  • VIDEO

PROS

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    ​Slick design
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    ​Tracks sleep and fitness in real time
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    ​Call and text notifications
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    ​Up to 5-day battery life

CONS

  • ​Requires app
  • ​Expensive
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​The Garmin Forerunner 235 is another option for a luxurious wristwatch-based heartrate monitor. It comes at quite a high price point, but also comes with the features that may make you wonder how you ever exercised without it. Includes a 1-year warranty.

It has the look of a traditional wristwatch as opposed to a wristwatch that more mirrors a smartphone. This could be a key feature for someone looking for a more old-school look instead of the sleek option.

With this device you should also be on the lookout for audio cues if you have a smartphone connected. This will alert you when you’ve completed a lap and also provide the exact time that you completed a lap in.  However, the included on-watch features like GPS make it usable even when not connected to a smartphone

The battery life for this device should be anywhere from 9-11 hours depending on exact specifics of use.

In addition to displaying your heart rate, the display will also show the zone you’re currently in and whether it’s in fat burning mode or not. For those looking to lose weight, this can be incredibly helpful.

  • Type: Wristwatch
  • Uses Bluetooth and ANT+: Bluetooth
  • With onboard memory: No
  • Accurate: Yes
  • Durable: Very
  • Build quality: Solid
  • LED and vibration feedback: With phone
  • Comfortable: Yes
  • Good battery life: When GPS is disabled
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Lightweight: Yes
  • Display: LED Screen
  • Rechargeable battery: Yes
  • Can tracks all-day activity: Yes
  • Provides feedback on sleep: Yes
  • Connectivity features: Bluetooth
  • Connectivity: Wireless
  • Easy-to-use app: Multiple app Integrations
  • SPECS
  • WHAT I LIKE
  • WHAT I DON'T LIKE
  • Pros/cons overview
  • VIDEO
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The Wahoo Fitness TICKR X Heart Rate Monitor is a stylish chest strap-based heart rate monitor (adjustable from 23” to 48”) for exercisers of all levels. It falls in the mid-range for price while offering most if not all of the features the average fitness enthusiast could want and includes a 1-year warranty for peace of mind.

This heart rate monitor tracks heart rate, counts calories, records laps, and analyzes your running form to improve speed and safety. This information can be stored in the internal memory and accessed later or viewed in real-time when connected to your smart phone with one of the 50+ supported fitness apps.

This monitor is waterproof up to 5m, making it both sweatproof and usable in shallow water such as a lap pool. Combining it with a popular swimming app like Speedo will allow it to be a solid swimming companion.

  • Type: Chest monitor
  • Uses Bluetooth and ANT+: Both
  • With onboard memory: Yes
  • Accurate: Yes
  • Durable: Yes
  • Build quality: High
  • LED and vibration feedback: LED
  • Comfortable: Yes
  • Good battery life: Ye
  • Waterproof: Up to 5m
  • Lightweight: Yes
  • Display: LED Lights
  • Rechargeable battery: No
  • Can tracks all-day activity: Yes
  • Provides feedback on sleep: No
  • Connectivity features: Wireless
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth and ANT+
  • Easy-to-use app: Integrates with 50+ apps
  • SPECS
  • WHAT I LIKE
  • WHAT I DON'T LIKE
  • Pros/cons overview
  • VIDEO

PROS

  • check
    ​Slick design
  • check
    ​Sweatproof and waterproof (5m rating)
  • check
    ​Running analytics
  • check
    ​App compatibility extends functionality

CONS

  • ​Requires app
  • ​Real-time tracking requires phone
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​A simple to look at and simple to use option, the Polar FT1 Heart Rate Monitor gets the job done without breaking the bank. Coming in towards the lower end of the mid-tier, this wrist or chest monitor offers solid value – especially when you add in its 2-year warranty.

The Polar FT1 Heart Rate Monitor constantly reads your heart rate and displays it on the large screen for you to check at will. The monitor can also double as a clock and alarm (similar to a standard watch), so it can be worn constantly.

This model features the ability to set a target range for your heart rate so that you can ensure you are burning fat, and it will set an alarm off when you leave your desired zone. Simply use the single button on the face to turn it on, configure your settings, and go.

  • Type: Wrist and chest
  • Uses Bluetooth and ANT+: No
  • With onboard memory: Yes
  • Accurate: Yes
  • Durable: Very Durable
  • Build quality: Great
  • LED and vibration feedback: LED
  • Comfortable: Yes
  • Good battery life: Yes
  • Waterproof: No
  • Lightweight: Yes
  • Display: LED Screen
  • Rechargeable battery: No
  • Can tracks all-day activity: Yes
  • Provides feedback on sleep: No
  • Connectivity features: None
  • Connectivity: None
  • Easy-to-use app: No
  • SPECS
  • WHAT I LIKE
  • WHAT I DON'T LIKE
  • Pros/cons overview
  • VIDEO

FINAL VERDICT

Overall, the best heart rate monitor we’ve found is the Fitbit Charge 2. Despite coming at a slightly higher price than other options, it offers the ability to monitor and track exercises throughout the day, receive real-time analysis of your current health, and more. It also lasts all day with a long battery life and is supported by a 1-year warranty by one of the largest fitness gear companies in the world. If you want something to help improve your workouts and your everyday life, the Fitbit Charge 2 is for you.

Buyer’s Guide

From chest monitors that you strap on to simple wrist watches that happen to measure heart rate, there’s a ton of different heart rate monitors to choose from. In order to help you find the best heart rate monitor, we’ve included some key information to know so that you can make an informed decision about your potential purchase.

Why Buy A Heart Rate Monitor?

While just about all exercise is beneficial to your overall health, in order to get the most out of your sweat you want to be able to monitor your heart rate. As you exercise, your body requires additional blood for your muscles, leading to your heart rate increasing to keep up with the demand. While it rising too high can be a problem, maintaining between 50-85% of your maximum heart rate allows your heart to safely pump while providing the ideal amount of strain on the rest of your body, requiring more energy to function and burning more calories.

A heart rate monitor will tell you when your body is struggling to keep up with the blood and energy requirements of your exercise, which will tell you the state of your cardiovascular health and give you an idea of what exercises are working.

Which Heart Rate Monitor is Right for You?

The right heart monitor for you will depend on a variety of factors. Do you plan to use it in water? Do you want to sync it with an app on your phone, or just want a self-contained workout companion? What is your budget?

In general, you’ll want to choose a monitor that provides accurate information. The most convenient choices have a touchscreen or large display that shows the information at a glance so that you can monitor it closely while you work out rather than after. This way you can ensure you’re burning maximum fat. Additionally, if you plan to swim with it, be sure it has a waterproof rating, otherwise you may be buying yourself a new one soon.

What is Heart Rate Variability?

Heart rate variability (HVR) measures the level of variation in time between heartbeats your body experiences. Basically, it is the difference in your heart rate at its fastest and slowest. Your heart beat is regulated by your autonomic nervous system (ANS) – specifically the sympathetic (stimulation) and parasympathetic (relaxation) branches of your ANS. This system works automatically and is controlled by your brain, with each branch responding to stimuli you experience in your everyday life and adjusting your heart and body’s response accordingly.

A high HRV leads to a lower potential heart rate, which means that your body can operate with less stress on the heart due to superior cardiovascular health from a lack of stimulation from things like stress, lack of sleep, and poor diet. However, your heart can still reach the same maximum heart rate when necessary, leading you to be much more adaptable and better handle stimulation before it puts strain on the rest of you.

A low HRV often means that your brain is perceiving stress or danger, keeping your resting heart beat higher and closer to your maximum heart rate. This makes it much easier for you to enter “fight-or-flight” mode, which can lead to greater strain on your body and a harder time recovering from stressful events.

HRV is valuable to your workout companion because exercising stimulates your body, increasing your heart rate, recruiting muscles, and pumping blood where it needs to go which leads to improved cardiovascular health. Your stronger heart can then maintain a lower heart rate, both improving your ability to relax and handle stress as well as allowing you to exercise longer and more intensely because your heart rate gains additional room to rise to accommodate it.

Last Updated on May 2, 2019