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How far off are wrist HRMs?

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How far off are wrist HRMs?

Old 03-28-20, 10:47 AM
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bikeme
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How far off are wrist HRMs?

I know that chest straps are the most accurate. Have any of you compared what a wrist one (Apple watch in particular) records vs what a chest one (connected to a Wahoo or Garmin) does? Thanks!
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Old 03-28-20, 11:44 AM
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Well if we knew how far off they were we could just add that correction back into the math and it'd be perfect.

It's probably not accuracy. When in the conditions they are able to read properly, they are likely as accurate as anything else for fitness use. It's more how often will a chest strap not be in proper conditions to read properly vs a wrist worn monitor.
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Old 03-28-20, 02:29 PM
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For various reasons I've recorded a handful of rides recently with both my Garmin Fenix 5 watch (has wrist HRM built in) and my Garmin Edge 500 (and, since yesterday, Garmin Edge 530) with a HRM strap. On these rides my avg HR recorded by both methods has either been the same or maybe off by 1 or 2 bpm. Which, for me, is more than good enough.
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Old 03-28-20, 02:45 PM
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For fitness purposes, any name-brand HRM will perform adequately. Accuracy/precision will be (mostly) the same for most all of them-- shopping is done based on things like cost, battery life, convenience, etc.

I wear an Apple Watch all the time, and it is my only tracker for runs/walks/hikes, only using a chest strap / computer combo for bike rides. It works perfectly well, and is perhaps more useful as it can
show HR trends over full days, providing a better picture of how tired/rested I am.
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Old 03-28-20, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
For fitness purposes, any name-brand HRM will perform adequately. Accuracy/precision will be (mostly) the same for most all of them-- shopping is done based on things like cost, battery life, convenience, etc.

I wear an Apple Watch all the time, and it is my only tracker for runs/walks/hikes, only using a chest strap / computer combo for bike rides. It works perfectly well, and is perhaps more useful as it can
show HR trends over full days, providing a better picture of how tired/rested I am.
I used to ignore Garmin Connect, just paying attention to my rides/runs/walks etc. in Strava as the data passed through. Since I got the Fenix 5 last summer I've started looking at the Garmin Connect app on my phone a lot, as in several times per day, specifically because the Fenix 5 on my wrist is always recording heart rate data, measuring stress, tracking calorie burn through whatever algorithms they are using, showing me training data that factors in all recent activities, etc. I've found it amazingly more useful than I ever did before getting the watch. Not to mention, the Fenix 5 was so good it's reinforced my once-flagging confidence in Garmin.
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Old 03-28-20, 02:53 PM
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My Fitbit is more accurate than the inexpensive I've had, when I've calibrated against other equipment. It's probably off my 2 or 3 beats per minute,
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Old 03-28-20, 03:56 PM
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I have found the wrist-based HRM on my Garmin 6 to be disappointingly inaccurate, with its inaccuracy growing with intensity. Everyday non-workout tracking is fine, easy Z2 ride is off by a couple of beats. By zone 3 it reads at least ten bpm off and seems to lag by a couple of seconds. When sprinting it is wildly off. As in I have never been able to get the watch to read above 140ish bpm even when killing myself and hitting max HR (180ish). I find it to be worse when running than cycling, but still would not rely on it for riding.
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Old 03-28-20, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by blazin View Post
I have found the wrist-based HRM on my Garmin 6 to be disappointingly inaccurate, with its inaccuracy growing with intensity. Everyday non-workout tracking is fine, easy Z2 ride is off by a couple of beats. By zone 3 it reads at least ten bpm off and seems to lag by a couple of seconds. When sprinting it is wildly off. As in I have never been able to get the watch to read above 140ish bpm even when killing myself and hitting max HR (180ish). I find it to be worse when running than cycling, but still would not rely on it for riding.
This matches what I've seen with my Garmin Instinct vs a Wahoo Fitness Tickr being read by a Garmin 130. In Z3 it easily 6-8 bpm low, and gets worse the higher my heartrate gets. I have found the tighter I have the Instinct the better the accuracy but it is still off compared to the Tickr. I used the Tickr the last time I had a stress test and it was within 2 bpm of the EEG readings so I have some confidence it is accurate.
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Old 03-28-20, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
For fitness purposes, any name-brand HRM will perform adequately. Accuracy/precision will be (mostly) the same for most all of them-- shopping is done based on things like cost, battery life, convenience, etc.

I wear an Apple Watch all the time, and it is my only tracker for runs/walks/hikes, only using a chest strap / computer combo for bike rides. It works perfectly well, and is perhaps more useful as it can
show HR trends over full days, providing a better picture of how tired/rested I am.
My Garmin wHRM is way off when I lift weights.
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Old 03-30-20, 09:47 PM
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When I was in spin class - back when classes were still happening - I noticed that my wHRM was way off. We'd be finishing up a hard set and cooling down. I'd look at my heart rate and it was off the chart! I know the number was wrong because I was doing an easy pedal, not breathing hard, and the number on the watch was much much too high. For a while I figured the watch was picking up the heart rate of someone else around me.

Going forward I think I am going to use my chest HRM with my Garmin watch (Forerunner 235) in spin class for a more accurate reading.
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Old 03-31-20, 04:09 AM
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The Apple watch is considered to be very accurate and is used in FDA Stanford heart studies. My Apple watch diagnosed mu AFIB and it was confirmed by my cardiologist. It is within 1 tp 2 beats of my Tickr on a NordkTrac treadmill.
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Old 03-31-20, 08:13 AM
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The HRM on my Fenix 3 is erratic at best. Sometimes it was be pretty close and other times it was widely off. It was always slower to react than the chest strap. Also very sensitive to position on my wrist. I ended up never using it and always using my Garmin chest strap which has been bulletproof. When I bought the Fenix 3 there was the option to get the same watch without the HRM. Wish I would have saved the money and gone with the reg. model since other than that it has been a solid purchase. Maybe the newer models are better.
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Old 03-31-20, 08:29 AM
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The HR on my Fenix 5 provides a general indicator of HR but it's far from accurate when HR is changing. For example I sometimes do some repeats on a set of stairs to the beach (50m elevation). The watch seems to lag the actual HR by a significant amount. If I want to look at my HR when I'm sitting around the wrist is fine but for monitoring or recording workouts I find it useless.
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Old 03-31-20, 08:36 AM
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I personally can't imagine any so bad they can't be used.

When you are looking at your data, you should be able to tell when it's correct and when not. So use that subset of correct data to let you know what you were doing at a particular part of your workout/ride.

If you are only going by workout/ride totals, then you really aren't analyzing your data. About the only thing useful for the entire workout/ride is time and maybe watts.

If your device is that crappy with data, maybe you are wearing it wrong. Many of your wrist worn devices can also be paired with a 50 dollar chest strap too. So you don't necessarily have to shell out more big bucks. But then again, some have issues with chest straps too. Some people have issues with everything electronic.
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Old 04-01-20, 08:19 PM
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I've found my wrist based HR to be within 1-2 bpm of my chest strap. The biggest issue with wrist based vs strap is there can be a lag when you start doing harder intervals. There have also been times when my wrist based HR will spike for no apparent reason. It really depends on the model of watch. My Polar m430 is IMHO perfect, while my Polar Vantage M can be somewhat suspect at times which is why I'll generally use it with a chest strap
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