Fitness trackers provide data on your activity level and fitness by monitoring your movements as you wear them on your wrist or elsewhere. By using accelerometers, a fitness tracker can deduce whether you are sleeping, sitting, standing, walking, or running. While this data can be surprisingly accurate and helpful, a fitness tracker with heart rate monitor can add additional richness to your data.
Why get a fitness tracker with heart rate monitor?
Depending on your lifestyle and exercise preferences, getting a fitness tracker with a heart rate monitor may be essential to achieve accuracy with your data and for you to be able to achieve your goals. A typical fitness tracker will rely solely on the accelerometer technology within it. An accelerometer measures g-force in every direction and is similar to a spring loaded piston that compresses as it encounters movement.
The downfall of accelerometers is that not all exercise involves your body accelerating in a direction. Yoga and weightlifting are two examples of this. When doing yoga or weightlifting, your body does not accelerate quickly, but you may be exerting yourself greatly.
Take the exercises below: both use major muscle groups, burn calories at a fast rate, and get your heart pumping hard, but a typical fitness tracker without a heart rate monitor would equate these exercises to the level of exertion required to get off the couch to get another beer!
The Advantage of Tracking Heart Rate
Your heart rate doesn’t lie. It’s a direct representation of how hard your body is exerting itself. The harder you exercise, the faster your heart will pump oxygen to keep feeding your muscles.
Best Fitness Trackers with Heart Rate Monitors
Polar Loop (with H7 Monitor)
- Tracks calories, steps, sleep patterns, distance, and goals
- Solid build
- 2 Year Warranty
- Polar Flow app continually being improved
- No 3rd party app integration (yet)
- Requires purchase of a separate heart rate monitor
The Polar Loop allows you to put on Polar’s H7 heart rate monitor to track your exercise. The H7 monitor will send your heart rate information to your Polar Loop to be recorded. Then, when you are close to your smartphone, the Polar Loop will sync that data to the Polar Flow app.
If you’re not doing exercise that would be best tracked with a heart rate sensor, the Polar Loop does well as a regular fitness tracker with its accelerometer. But, the flexibility to track heart rate data for exercises like yoga, weightlifting, or using an elliptical helps to accurately reach your fitness goals.
The data is all stored in Polar’s mobile and web apps which are quite robust and continually being improved. The Polar company is reputable, and you can trust they will stand by their product. It would be nice if Polar would integrate nicely with a 3rd party mobile app to provide their users with that flexibility and possibly be able to track diet, fluid intake, etc.
- Tracks calories, steps, sleep patterns, distance, elevation, and goals
- Built-in heart rate sensor
- Long 2 week battery life
- Integrates with other Withings products (scale)
- Nice screen
- Not waterproof
- Heart rate only tracks “point in time” not continuous
- Not wrist worn/can be easily lost
The Withings Pulse is perfect for someone who doesn’t prefer exercises that are low movement/high heart rate exercises like yoga or weight lifting but wants to track their resting heart rate (a good test of physical fitness). The Pulse has a built-in heart rate sensor that allows you to take your heart rate. Like the Polar Loop, the Pulse will then sync your data over Bluetooth to your smartphone.
Other wins for the Withings Pulse are the ability to integrate with the Withings Scale, altimeter to track changes in elevation (walking uphill is harder than downhill, so it will give you accurate credit towards your goals), and excellent sleep tracking.
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