Are Heart Rate Watches Accurate?

EndurElite Chief Endurance Officer Matt Mosman discusses if watches that measure heart rate from your wrist are accurate compared to EKG and heart rate monitors that use a chest strap.

The Accuracy Of Watches That Measure Heart Rate From Your Wrist

  • Heart rate based training is used by athletes to help gauge intensity and typically devices with chest straps (i.e. Polar heart rate monitors) have been used with a high degree of accuracy.
  • Watches that measure heart rate from the wrist have been shown to be highly INACCURATE.
  • One study took 50 subjects and had them run on the treadmill at 10mph for 30 minutes while simultaneously hooked up to an EKG, Polar heart rate monitor, and one of 3 watches that measured heart rate (Apple Watch, Mio Fuse, FitBit).
  • The researchers discovered the watches that measured heart rate from the wrist were 29-39 beats per minute OFF compared to the gold standard EKG and highly accurate Polar heart rate monitor.
  • Take home point? If you do heart rate based training use a chest strap for now.