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Which Heart Rate Monitor to Choose?

Every runner knows how essential it is to monitor heart rate during training. In this modern world, technology is ready to lend us a hand by offering increasingly advanced tools to track our heart rate. But when it comes to choosing between a wrist-based heart rate monitor, an arm band heart rate monitor, or a chest strap heart rate monitor, how can we make the right choice? In today’s article, we will explore the differences between these three instruments to help you make an informed decision.

Wrist-Based Heart Rate Monitor:

The wrist-based heart rate monitor is a device that detects heart rate using an optical sensor that analyzes the volume of blood flowing through the veins. Under normal conditions, it provides good-quality measurements. However, due to its optical nature, accuracy can be affected by various factors such as the presence of hair, tattoos, layers of clothing, wrist size, the type of activity (such as cycling), and even skin color.

Arm Band Heart Rate Monitor:

The arm band, or fitness bracelet, is a wearable device that detects heart rate using a sensor placed on the arm. This sensor is designed to remain in direct contact with the skin of the arm. When worn correctly, it can provide accurate and reliable measurements. However, it is important to ensure that the arm band is positioned stably and adheres well to the skin during the workout.

Chest Strap Heart Rate Monitor:

The chest strap heart rate monitor, on the other hand, detects heart rate through the electrical impulses of the heart, similar to an electrocardiogram. It must be worn correctly, positioned at the sternum level, and tightened appropriately to prevent it from sliding due to sweat. Furthermore, it is advisable to moisten it before the workout to ensure accurate data transmission.

Which instrument is more accurate?

Without further ado, the chest strap heart rate monitor is always the most precise choice for measuring heart rate. Even though the latest wrist-based heart rate sensors are becoming increasingly accurate and reliable, they cannot compete with the accuracy and real-time data provided by the chest strap heart rate monitor.

Why choose the wrist-based or arm band heart rate monitor?

Convenience is the main factor in favor of wrist-based heart rate monitors and arm bands. The latest integrated heart rate sensors in watches can offer very accurate and reliable measurements, even if they do not reach the level of the chest strap heart rate monitor. This is without the potentially annoying bulk of the chest strap. Especially during summer or in warmer temperatures, the chest strap heart rate monitor can cause irritation due to friction and sweat. In these cases, a wrist-based heart rate sensor, like those integrated into modern Garmin watches, is a smart choice.

Why choose the chest strap heart rate monitor?

After examining the differences, it is clear that the chest strap heart rate monitor is the best choice for overall precision. Especially if you engage in specific workouts such as interval training, fartlek, repeats, or Conconi tests, the chest strap heart rate monitor becomes an indispensable tool.

In conclusion, the choice depends on your specific needs. If convenience is an important factor and your level of activity does not require extremely precise monitoring, a wrist-based heart rate monitor may be the right choice. However, if you seek maximum precision, especially during intense and specific workouts, the chest strap heart rate monitor is the best choice. In between, and currently quite popular, is the arm band heart rate monitor. Always remember to consider your personal needs and the type of training you engage in when making your decision.