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Other Smartwatches For Tracking Heart Health

Watch Before you Buy a Fitness Tracker!

If you want to keep costs down , there are other watches available with heart-health features.

The Fitbit Sense has a number of heart-rate features to rival Apple. It has standard heart-rate monitoring, can take ECGs and even combines your heart rate with your skin temperature sensor readings to report on your stress levels.

Sounds appealing? Discover if it impressed in our lab tests in our full Fitbit Sense review.

If youre an Android user, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 44mm might catch your eye. Alongside the usual heart-rate monitoring, it also has the ability to monitor your blood pressure or perform an ECG test on your heart rhythms. It can estimate your VO2 max too.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 44mm review to see how it fared in our rigorous performance tests.

Looking to stick to a stricter budget? The Oppo Band offers both heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring, plus 11 activity-tracking modes and sleep tracking. It lacks some key features such as GPS tracking though, but packs in plenty considering its low price.

Read our full Oppo Band review to see exactly how accurate and easy to use this fitness tracker is.

How Does Whoop Know How Recovered I Am

In a nutshell, the WHOOP analysis engine uses three key metrics to measure recovery:

A high heart rate variability and a low resting heart rate, compared to your baseline, indicate that your body is recovering well. A low HRV and high RHR indicate that your heart is working harder to supply nutrients via the bloodstream. It also means that your nervous system is busy trying to meet your bodys physiological demands, such as musculoskeletal recovery, stress, illness, and fatigue .

Related: How Apollo Neuroscience has helped me improve my HRV, sleep and my recovery time.

Of course, your sleep performance also plays a crucial role in recovery. The more quality sleep you get, the quicker you recover.

Whats important to understand is that the recovery score WHOOP calculates is not correlated with the previous days strain. In other words, a high strain score doesnt necessarily lead to a lower recovery score if your body is able to handle the strain well.

Why Monitor Your Heart Rate

If you have any concerns about your heart, you should, of course, see your doctor. Assuming your interest is more casual, a heart-rate-monitoring wearable can be a big help in helping you get the most from your workouts.

Longer term, keeping an eye on your heart-rate patterns can help you notice what may be causing spikes during everyday life and tell you a lot about your cardiovascular health.

Wearables that collect data on your heart rate can also give you more accurate feedback on other aspects of your health – for example, your sleep, calorie burn, stress levels and VO2 max .

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Make Sure You Earn Move And Exercise Credit

Every full minute of movement that equals or exceeds the intensity of a brisk walk will count towards your daily Exercise and Move goals. With Apple Watch Series 3 or later, your cardio fitness levels are used to determine what is brisk for you. For wheelchair users, this is measured in brisk pushes. Any activity below this level will only count towards your daily Move goal.

To make sure you earn Exercise credit during walks, allow the arm you’re wearing your Apple Watch on to swing naturally. For example, while walking your pet, let the arm with your watch on swing freely and hold the lead in your other hand.

If you need both hands while walking, for example to push a pushchair, you can still earn Exercise credit with the Workout app. Open the app on your Apple Watch and tap Outdoor Walk. The Activity app relies on arm motion and an accelerometer to track movement, but the Workout app can use the accelerometer, the heart rate sensor and GPS.

Key Considerations When Choosing A Heart Monitor

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Chest strap vs. heart rate monitor watch

Whether you choose a chest strap or a watch to measure your heart rate depends on your needs.

Chest straps are chiefly designed to aid exercisers who want the most accurate readings. As we explain a bit further below, this type of heart rate monitor can withstand fluctuations in beats-per-minute, when compared to optical sensors found in watch and fitness tracker monitors.

What you pay for in accuracy, though, is made up for in comfort, convenience, and features with a smartwatch. These are devices designed to monitor you all day, and often come with more features than just simple BPM monitoring.

Heart rate watch accuracy explained

When you start ramping up the intensity, doing functional fitness, or HIIT workouts, optical sensors in fitness trackers or watches will often struggle to cope with the rapid rises and falls in heart rate.

They can also be flummoxed by the movement of the wrist during exercises – ones such as press-ups, burpees, or Olympic lifting, as the skin contracts and tightens, making it harder for the sensor to do its job.

Dark skin and tattoos can also affect accuracy, as skin tone can affect the light reflection. Sadly, not enough work has been done across the board to overcome accuracy issues because of ethnicity, so, if you have dark skin and want the very best data from your workouts, think about a chest strap.

Where can heart rate monitors be worn?

Types of data heart rate trackers can capture

By Conor Allison

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Dark Skinned Tattoo Sleeve Overweight Why Your Heart Rate Monitor May Have Issues

The wearable health and fitness technology industry is booming and for obvious reasons. Not only do we have more information on how to improve and maintain optimal levels of health, but in the present information and digital age, we now have the power to take control through action while measuring our vital signs and fitness progress.

Over the years since the launch of wearable health and fitness devices many users have, however, noted a major flaw in the function of the heart rate monitors integrated into these trackers the readings just simply aren’t the same for everyone1.

The most prominent cases mentioned on various online platforms pertain to individuals with darker skin tones or tattoos who report that the devices cannot detect contact with the skin or read a pulse. When the same devices were used by lighter skinned individuals or those without tattoo ink covering the skin where the device made contact with the skin, they worked perfectly.

While there has been very little research conducted on the reasons for these discrepancies in the consumer fitness tracking device space, the medical community has been facing the same issues in the development of consumer tracking devices for medical purposes.

Budget Pick: Fitbit Inspire 2

*At the time of publishing, the price was $80.

The Fitbit Inspire 2 is smaller and lighter than our top pick, the Fitbit Charge 5. Its also missing a few features, like a color display, an altimeter, and contactless payment. But if you want a simple-to-use tracker, this is a nice, low-profile choice that still delivers plenty.

Along with its all-day heart-rate monitoring and resting-heart-rate data, the Inspire 2 offers sleep-stage tracking, connected GPS for real-time pace and distance for select workouts , and more than 20 exercise modes . Thats in addition to basic all-day activity tracking, automatic activity recognition, and reminders to move. By choosing the Inspire 2 instead of the Charge 5, youre giving up a color display, quick-text replies for Android devices, on-wrist ECG , and an oxygen-saturation sensor.

The Inspire 2s backlit, grayscale OLED touchscreen is bright and clear, though we still found it a bit tough to see in especially bright sunlightand it does not offer an always-on option . The included silicone band is soft and comfortable. To manually wake the screen or return to the home screen, you squeeze the sides of the device and then scroll through the menus. The Inspire 2 promises a battery life of up to 10 days, three days longer than our top pick. After two days of continuous wear and activity during testing, the battery dropped to 81%, versus 69% for the Charge 5 in the same time span .

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Should I Consider Something Else

The unique appeal of the Touch is its ability to provide basic body composition stats, so if youre really keen on the idea of that, its your best bet in a wrist wearable. Although this is available in other ways, such as smart scales.

There is a cheaper version of the Touch without this function available but Id steer well clear of that. Why? Because all the normal fitness tracking functions on the Touch are done better elsewhere, most notably in the Fitbit Aria HR, Fitbit Charge 2 or Garmin Vivosmart HR. Those are slightly more pricy than the Touch now that TomTom has dropped its price below £100 , but its worth a little more for the better functionality and battery life.

You could even spend £20 more and get the most basic version of the excellent TomTom Spark 3. Theres nothing majorly wrong with the TomTom Touch, but it seems a bit underdone and the minor annoyances with it all add up.

Whoop Hardware And Sensors

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One of the things I immediately noticed when I put the strap on for the first time was that WHOOP doesnt have a display or buttons. In fact, it cant even tell you the time. Theres no way to interact with the device, other than double-tapping it to see the remaining battery life via a tiny LED on the side.

But dont be fooled by WHOOPs simplicity! The wearable device contains a ton of sophisticated sensors that can measure your hearts beats per minute, heart rate variability , electro-dermal activity , skin temperature, blood oxygen saturation , movement and 3D acceleration.

Ill explain what all that means and why its important in a bit, so hang tight!

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Can Tattoos Affect Smart Watch Functions

Yes, tattoos can affect the smartwatchs functions. The watch uses electric signals to communicate with the sensors. A tattoo in between the watch and the sensors could interfere with the electric signals and prevent the watch from working properly.

There is also a chance that the tattoo ink could get into causing the watch to malfunction.

Whoop 40 Battery Pack Stops Charging

While I havent had any issues with my WHOOP 4.0 battery pack, I have heard from some users whose battery packs suddenly stopped working. The good news is that rebooting the battery pack fixed the problem in all instances.

The bad news is that you cant reboot the battery pack from within the WHOOP app. Instead, you have to use an app that can send raw commands to the battery pack via the USB cable. If youre on a Mac, you can download SerialTools from the App Store, connect it to the battery pack and send it a random command to force the device to reboot.

Update: WHOOP released a Battery Pack 4.0 Updater that you can download to update the firmware of your battery pack. Check out this knowledge base article for more information and download links to the update program.

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So What If They Have This Data

The data saved about your usual biking route may not only reveal where you are frequently spotted, but even where you live. Back in 2018, the locations of classified US Army bases were revealed through Strava, a popular fitness application that was aimed at tracking exercise routes You were also able to see the names and age groups of people who had run that route, as long as they had not changed their default privacy settings to restrict access to that data.

Recently, health insurance companies have started using fitness tracker data to price their plans, offering discounts to those who transmit their fitness tracker data to them. Large companies like IBM and TimeWarner offered discounted or complimentary fitness trackers to employees as part of corporate wellness programs . Without proper regulation, this could mean that your personal fitness information is shared with your employers, creating the potential for privacy breaches and even discrimination in the workplace

Apart from the security of your tracking device, it may also be wise to consider how vulnerable your fitness trackers company is to hacking. In 2020, 2 million FitBit accounts had their personal information exposed by hackers . Meanwhile, Garmin was the target of a ransomware attack that cost them $10 million that same year, although they state that no personal identifiable information was compromised . These breaches show how fitness data is increasingly valuable to hackers.

D Accelerometer And Gyroscope

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The 3D accelerometer built into WHOOP detects any movement. Thats obviously important for workout detection and exercise tracking. However, WHOOP also uses the accelerometer to assist with heart rate monitoring and to keep tabs on your respiration rate while sleeping.

The gyroscope detects any changes in WHOOPs orientation triggered by wrist movement. Together with the 3D accelerometer, the gyroscope is an essential tool for helping WHOOP differentiate between types of movements.

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How To Choose The Best Fitness Tracker For You

Dr. Mitesh Patel, director of the Penn Medicine Nudge Unit and researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, shared a few tips on what consumers should keep in mind when choosing a fitness tracker. Anytime you take it off, its an opportunity not to put it back on, he explained. Patel, who has led several experiments in wearable technologies and mobile devices, concluded that competition and gamification incorporated in fitness can play an outsized role in motivation and work hand-in-hand with meeting ones goals.

For this reason, you should analyze your fitness goals first. Make sure the fitness tracker you buy caters to the type of exercises you plan to perform. Next, choose a device you’re actually going to be consistent about using. According to Dr. Patel, trackers that generally work better for his patients dont require regular charging, such as those that last up to six months or more and are waterproof or water-resistant. Finally, consider your budget. Many people using wearable devices stop using it after a couple of months, explained Dr. Patel. You don’t want to invest in something you don’t plan on using for an extended period.

Best Fitness Trackers For 2023

Hit your workout, step and health goals with these fitness trackers.

If you need a hand keeping your workout routine on track, a fitness tracker may be able to help. These wearables from Fitbit, Apple and others can help motivate you by showing you how much progress you’ve made, as well as some areas that could use some improvement. They’re also packed full of helpful fitness features to help you track workouts and health metrics, monitor your sleep patterns and even let you know when you should be taking a rest day. So read on if you’re looking for the best fitness tracker 2023 has to offer.

There are dozens of dedicated fitness tracker options to choose from — from the classic fitness-tracker watch design to shoe insoles with activity-tracking features to the famous smartwatch, the Apple Watch. We’ve rounded up six of our favorite trackers based on price, form and function. Each of them requires a mobile app to track your progress and some let you see phone notifications on your wrist.

Read more: Best Budget Smartwatches Under $100

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How To Choose The Best Heart Rate Monitor Watch

With so many options available, it can be daunting to choose a reliable heart rate monitor watch.

The Fitbit Versa is our top pick, as it features 24/7 heart rate monitoring, which tracks your heart health over time and always displays your current heart rate, whether youre resting or exercising.

Furthermore, it shows your metrics on the main screen so that you dont have to navigate elsewhere.

Still, you may want to consider other factors like cost, customer reviews, and features.

Note that very few smartwatches only measure your heart rate. Most connect to your phone, and many offer features for athletes, such as GPS and activity tracking, or people with heart or lung problems, such as blood pressure and oxygen saturation monitoring.

Alternatively, if youre looking for the most accurate heart rate readings possible for example, to help manage your heart condition consider a chest monitor. This device straps around your chest and is much more precise than a smartwatch (

6 ).

In particular, an elevated heart rate can also be a risk factor for future health issues, including heart disease and stroke .

How Much Is Whoop

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When the WHOOP fitness tracker first launched, it had a hefty $500 price tag. While thats in line with what I paid for my Apple Watch, its still a lot of money.

These days, you dont have to pay for the hardware up-front. Instead, you can sign up for a WHOOP membership in the form of a monthly subscription for as little as $18 per month.

  • 6-month membership: $30 per month .
  • 12-month membership: $24 per month .
  • 18-month membership: $18 per month .
  • Lifetime membership: $399 one-time payment .

If youd like to give WHOOP a try, you can use the link below to get one free month added to whichever subscription you choose. If youre already a WHOOP user and would like to upgrade to the WHOOP Strap 4.0, simply renew your membership.

I know that there are pros and cons to WHOOPs subscription model vs. paying for the hardware up-front. Based on my experience over the past three years, I can say that WHOOP has constantly improved the platform for its paying members. In other words, Ive gotten a lot of value out of my membership. Additionally, hardware upgrades are free.

As a result, I consider the WHOOP membership model a win-win for both the company and its customers.

In case youre wondering, the WHOOP wristband is not available on Amazon.

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