Wrist based heart rate monitors??: I am... - Bridge to 10K

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Wrist based heart rate monitors??


I am wondering who has one of these and how successful they have been with it? Now I have to define a little more about what I mean by "successfull". I am aware that they work OK - they read your pulse ( not heart beat) fine when resting /walking --- but how well do they perform when you are really pushing yourself? How well do they track HR during the last 100 yards of hard 5k "race" or during a hilly 10K or when you are doing sprint intervals etc?

I find that my Garmin chest belt type HRM works well - is quite quick at recording changes in HR , doesn't give spurious results much ( sometimes!) - but I really would like to get away from the belt.

6 Replies

I did a fair amount of research before choosing Garmin Forerunner. As a wrist option they seem to be the most reliable. They'll never be as accurate as a chest strap but they scored higher than most other brands. Polar were the runner up.

I don't really do sprints but mine seems pretty much on the ball and certainly when I'm slogging up an awful hill on my bike it can see me struggling!! I haven't really had any spurious results that have stood out as yet.

I find it very consistent, though I can't compare with anything as I don't have a chest strap so can't comment on accuracy. When I first got it I found my Garmin was all over the place and occasionally just flatlined (!) but over the past six months or so it's been behaving well for everything, including intervals with shorter sprints sections which used to baffle it. There's a tiny bit of inertia but it even copes well with 30-20-10s these days. I think their updates have done a good job in making it more responsive to change.


they will not be as accurate as a chest strap. DC Rainmaker did a review of the Garmin Fenix 5 series and noted that the HRM was accurate but that the heart rate was slower to come down on decreasing pace, compared with the chest strap HRMs. I'm happy with my Fenix 5s HRM, it's accurate enough.


I often wear my Garmin and my Apple Watch at the same time and they seem to track within a couple of BPM of each other which is a reasonable indicator that they’re fairly accurate, as long as they’re consistent that’s my main concern.


They're not as reliable as chest straps. That seems to be the concensus. The internet seems to be awash with problems with Garmins in particular, which often pick up your cadence (i.e. footfall) rather than heartbeat. Seems that Garmin haven't acknowledged the problem, let alone dealt with it. I've no idea if this is a common symptom with other manufactures tho.

I've owned one Garmin device in my life and I'd never go near them as a brand again. Great "consumer electronics" marketing, but technical savvy and after-sales support have always been a bit "meh" as far as I could see.

I'm showing my PolarFanBoy bias a bit, but I'd not touch their wrist-based devices either....


Hi Bazza1234

I can’t comment on chest straps, as I’ve a pacemaker and can’t use those. I’ve had wrist based Fitbits for the last few years though, and have been incredibly impressed with those for use during exercise.

All my pulse comes from my pacemakers, and I get issues with not getting a high enough pulserate some of the time when I exercise (especially hillwalking or using a StairMaster in the gym), so being able to check my pulserate when pushing things and soaked in sweat is pretty important for me. Last year I had an exercise test done at the hospital (steeply inclined treadmill going at rapid rate), which showed my Fitbit readings were almost identical to the hospital ECG trace pulserate measurements. My cardiac consultant was so impressed by this (and the fact that my Fitbit had just diagnosed my new pacemaker problems) that he even took my Fitbit traces to discuss with my pacemaker’s manufacturer.

I can confirm (as I know the maximum setting of my pacemaker), that my Fitbit shows my max pulserate of 175bpm pretty accurately. The main tips I’d have for Fitbits is to wear them, as Fitbit recommend, quite high above your wrist bone (and pushed up quite snuggly) when exercising, and if you sweat a lot (like me), to quickly wipe under the thing then push it back in position if it stops giving a pulse reading.

I’ve sometimes stopped and manually taken my pulse as a comparison when exercising (especially when my pulse suddenly drops), and the Fitbit has compared pretty well to my own pulse measurements. I did try buying a much cheaper wrist heartrate monitor off Amazon once, which I found nowhere near as accurate.

I’m afraid I’ve no experience of Garmins or other big brands to comment on them.

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