daily wisdom

Daily Wisdom: The Best Heart Rate Tools

Many apps and devices are unreliable, says a new study.

Every athlete knows that education is a crucial part of performance. Sport and exercise research, insight from top trainers, science, and technology help you to better understand your body so you can craft a healthier lifestyle, workouts, and recovery plan.

In our daily news series, Matt Berenc, director of education at the Equinox Fitness Training Institute, addresses some of the latest fitness research and news stories.

TODAY'S TOPIC: HOW TO GET THE MOST ACCURATE READ OF YOUR HEART RATE DURING EXERCISE  

THE SCIENCE

A study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology is warning exercisers about the accuracy of heart rate monitoring apps (such as ones that assess your heart rate via a finger touch to the phone’s camera). The researchers found a huge variability between apps suggesting that they’re unreliable. 

 

EQX EXPERT INSIGHT

“Heart rate is one of the best variables that can be used in tracking performance and improvements with training,” says Berenc. “For instance, if you run three miles with an average heart rate of 160 beats per minute and over time that average drops to 150 beats per minute, you can be confident that you are getting in better shape and that your body is ready to potentially handle a faster pace.” But, it only works if you are getting consistent and accurate information. As this study highlights, there are a lot of apps and devices out there that claim to easily track your heart rate that may not work as advertised. “I would recommend avoiding the app versions on a smart phone and stick with either the wrist-based optical sensor (like what is used on the Apple Watch) or a chest strap,” says Berenc.  

THE BOTTOM LINE

“If monitoring your heart rate is important to you, the chest strap is the best bet,” says Berenc. “While it may not be as comfortable as wearing the wrist-based optical sensor, the results are much more accurate and reliable.”