How to get Accurate Heart Rate from your Smartwatch or Sportswatch
So all that health and fitness feedback, like your heart rate, breathing rate and vo2 max, is going to be as meaningful as possible. So the first thing we should talk about is just simply how to wear a watch to get accurate heart rate and it may sound kind of silly to talk about how to wear a watch. But with these types of sensors it can actually make a pretty big difference. The heart rate, sensors that are found in most smart watches are optical, heart rate sensors, meaning that they shine light, which then penetrates the skin and tries to detect heart rate, along with some other data through blood flow, and with these types of sensors, they tend to Be far more accurate when theres a lot of flesh like lets, say your upper arm and far less accurate when theres only a thin layer before bone like lets, say your hand and then right in between. We have the wrist which funny enough isnt, necessarily the best place, either for these types of sensors to collect accurate heart rate, but thats. What were dealing with because thats, where we wear our watches. But there is an optimal location where we can wear a watch to get the most accurate results. So when we look at how most watchers are typically worn, youll see everything from right above the wrist bone, sometimes a little bit looser and below the wrist bone and then sometimes a little bit higher and for normal everyday use when youre not working out its.
Probably, okay to just wear your watch about a fingers width above your wrist bone, but for workouts, its probably best to aim to wear your watch higher up about two finger widths above your wrist bone, where theres more flesh for the sensor to work with and along With placement, we also need to talk about how snug you should wear your watch. So, with these types of sensors, movement is generally not a good thing where, if your watch is loose and its kind of bouncing around that doesnt give the sensor the best shot at collecting the most accurate heart rate. Additionally, you also dont want any errant light leaking in between the sensor and your skin. So how snug you wear your watch is pretty important and in general you basically want to have it snug enough, so it doesnt move around, but not too tight where its constricting blood flow, and one more thing to consider here is the size and weight of your Watch so what i found over the many years of me testing these watches is that with larger and heavier watches. Well, they tend to bounce around. On my wrist a little bit more and in general, i tend to see less accurate results with larger watches so take, for instance, the phoenix 7x and the phoenix 7s that i have right here. Well, both of these have the exact same fourth generation elevator heart rate sensor, but i tend to get more accurate results out of the phoenix 7s just because its a little bit lighter its a little bit smaller and it doesnt bounce around as much oh and really Quick, if youre, finding the information in this video to be useful, do me a favor just hit that, like button down below its a small little thing that you can do that will help this video and the channel quite a bit, and i appreciate it and then In regards to size, depending on your anatomy, your wrist bone may protrude a little bit like mine does, which actually may lift the watch up slightly, especially with a larger watch which doesnt allow the sensor to sit flush on my skin.
So its not necessarily all about how good the sensor is, the size and weight of the watch also can be factors. So this is a case where bigger may not be better and then another factor in getting that nice snug fit is the type of band theyre using. So most companies include a band with their smart watchers or sports watchers that have a pretty good amount of stretch to them to get a snug but still comfortable fit. But theres bands like leather bands and metal bands that may not have much or any stretch to them at all, so with those types of bands you wont be able to get that nice customized snug fit that you need to get accurate heart rate. I find the stock bands on polar washes to be pretty good. Garmin does a good job in this department too, and then chorus actually does a really good job here too, where these are super stretchy and you can get a nice snug comfortable, fit the stock watch bands and apple watches, theyre, okay, but theyre not going to be Quite as good as the sport bands that they have, where you can get a really customized fit, plus those are going to be a bit stretchier now lets say you have the best fit the best placement and the best heart rate sensor and youre still not getting Accurate heart rate results well at this point, you may just want to try wearing your watch on the other wrist.
Our anatomies are different from armed or arm, and you may get better results from one wrist versus the other and then one more thing you can try. If youre, just simply not getting accurate heart rate, is to also flip the watch over where the sensor is on the underside of your wrist ive heard that works for some folks as well. Now there are some factors that may contribute to more or less accuracy that have nothing to do with how you wear your watch, and these can be things like skin thickness skin tone as well as tattoos. So for me, i dont have a super dark skin tone, but certainly darker than some others – and this is where i have seen some varying results in testing compared to lets, say my buddy ray over at dcreamaker.com, who has a lighter skin tone and on some of His tests hes been able to collect more accurate heart rate data and obviously, both of us know how to test and wear these types of watches and im, not necessarily saying thats a general rule of thumb, or anything like that, because sensors from different companies can act Differently, because of how the companies actually implement their sensors with different colored leds, along with their algorithms and then another factor that can lead to inaccurate results, are going to be tattoos. So, as you can imagine, tattoo ink, since its embedded in the skin, can block the light thats being emitted from these sensors.
But i have heard of a little hack where you can place a clear epoxy sticker over the heart rate sensor, which can somehow trick the sensor into getting accurate results. I have not been able to independently verify this, but my buddy daniel. He did try this with his garment venue and he said it worked, but its just something, cheap and easy that you could try if you happen to have a tattoo under your wrist based heart rate sensor and funny little side note. I actually originally wanted this tattoo on the top of my arm, but with where this would be right here. It would actually be right underneath my heart rate sensor and we cant have that and then to get the most accurate heart rate for workouts. What id suggest you do is start your watch, maybe a minute or two before actually working out, and this allows your watch to get a baseline before your heart rate suddenly rises. So if you watch many of my reviews, youll notice that in nearly every single watch the review has a tendency of not tracking accurately for the first minute or two in a workout, and this is even the most accurate sensors. So what you can do with lets say a garmin watch is select the activity and then maybe hang out for a minute or two before pressing start and then with an apple watch. I do the same sort of thing where i just go to select the activity, but wait a little bit before actually pressing start and then the same thing goes for watches, like chorus, polar etc.
Now there are some activities that are simply just not ideal. For these types of sensors, regardless of how snug you wear and how good the sensor is – and these are going to be activities that involve a lot of bearing arm movement, wrist, flexion and a lot of vibrations or bumps and examples of this would be stuff like Weight training where youre gripping dumbbells, along with having many different kinds of arm movement, high intensity interval training, is about the same here where theres a lot of variation and then theres going to be stuff like cycling outdoors. So with road biking, theres the possibility of vibrations and bumps in the road moving around the watch and then with mountain biking, you have lots of gripping on the handlebars, along with tons of vibration with rough terrain and then additionally, swimming can be a challenging activity. For these types of sensors, because theres the possibility of water getting in between the sensor and your skin, which can throw it off and then with cold weather activities, well with cold weather. What can happen is that your capillaries can shrink, which can lead to inaccurate results and with these types of activities, this is where using an external heart rate monitor paired with your watch is going to be your best bet, but with external heart rate monitors you basically Have two different flavors, a chest: heart rate strap and then an arm heart rate, strap chest heart rate, straps work off of electrical signals from your body and these in general deliver the most accurate results you can get, but they may not work perfectly in cold weather Or if your skin is really dry and then with arm heart rate monitors, these are usually optical, heart rate sensors, just like the ones that found in watches, but these have an advantage over watches, because these are taking readings in a more optimal place in your body, Where theres more flesh, like your upper arm, arm based optical heart rate, sensors are in general, quite good, but there can be a few seconds of delay with these types of sensors and reporting your actual heart in real time.
But for the most part they are very reliable. I already have a video on some good budget chest heart rate monitors that i can suggest, as well as a bunch of reviews on different optical arm heart rate sensors that ill have linked down in the description below now. I do have a little trick for you, though, that ive found to help increase heart and accuracy with stuff, like lets, say mountain biking and thats, going to be something as simple as this wristband or sweatband that i have right here and i sort of stumbled upon This stumbled being the appropriate word so with stuff like mountain biking. Well, i can take a spill from time to time. Hey it just kind of happens with that type of activity and what ive learned over the many years of me testing and reviewing these watches that need to protect these watches while im mountain biking. So i dont break or scratch something before actually producing a video on it and trust me. This has happened on more than one occasion and its definitely a challenging email for me to send a company and say hey. I broke your thing, sorry, so what i do now for rougher mountain bike rides is, i just simply use one of these wristbands. I use ones that are pretty snug and i just slip it over and this helps protect the watch in case i crash, but what i found is that this also prevents the watch from bouncing around on my wrist.
So this is immensely helpful, especially with larger and heavier watches, in collecting a little bit more accurate heart rate data when mountain biking and then. Lastly, in regards to the actual feedback that your watch is delivering to. You also want to make sure that your personal details, like your height weight and age, are updated correctly in the watch or the company smartphone app, because subsequent data points like your calories burned, it depends on some of that data, so make sure that data is updated Correctly, along with your heart rate zones to get the most meaningful feedback, so there you go. Those are just some tips and tricks on how to get the most accurate heart rate and feedback from your smart watchers sports watch. And if you have any suggestions on anything that i didnt mention, this video definitely make sure to leave those in the comment section down below and on your way down there.