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The Best Heart Rate Monitors

🕚 Updated October 2021

The heart is a vital organ, so it's not surprising that many choose to keep tabs on its activity. Whether you're the next great Olympic champion or just an average joe, here are the best heart rate monitors you can buy.

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  Top Pick Best Value Best for Runners Best Watch Most Versatile
H10 Heart Rate Monitor
Heart Rate Monitor Armband
Inspire 2 Health & Fitness Tracker
HRM-Tri Heart Rate Monitor
Our SummaryComfortable, accurate, and incredibly versatile, this is an amazing product to track your heart rate during vigorous workout sessions.This budget-friendly heart rate monitor sports the compatibility options of premium products and impressive accuracy given its low price.Sporting advanced functionality that is tailor-made for runners, this is an excellent buy for Garmin fitness watch owners.Designed for everyday use and sporting a built-in heart rate monitor, this fitness tracker scores points in terms of comfort and advanced features.Featuring a great feature set for running, swimming, and biking, this heart rate monitor is as versatile and accurate as they come.
ProsIncredible accuracy, comfortable, highly compatible, long battery life, fair price.Great price, Bluetooth/ANT+ compatible, secure fit, above-average accuracy.Advanced data collection, made for runners, built-in accelerometer, highly accurate.Lots of features for the price, all-day heart rate tracking, heart health insights.Lightweight and comfortable, accurate, unbeatable battery life, good for multiple sports, advanced heart rate and running data.
ConsNot designed to measure resting heart rate.Limited battery life, not for water sports.Limited compatibility, questionable durability.Small display, paid subscription features.Expensive, brand-restrictive.
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The Best Heart Rate Monitors

Woman wearing pink Fitbit heart rate monitor in bed while looking at smartphone

Heart rate monitors can be valuable tools in measuring your heart’s performance during physical activities such as running, swimming, and biking. Some heart rate monitors can even measure more detailed metrics such as distance moved, average stride length, the number of calories burned during a session, and more. If you are serious about athletic performance and cardiovascular health, now is a great time to invest in a high-quality heart rate monitor.

Buying Guide for Heart Rate Monitors

Man wearing blue heart rate monitor while swimming in a pool

Why buy a heart rate monitor?

Heart rate readings can be an indispensable insight for improving your fitness regimen. In fact, your heart rate is one of the best metrics available for determining how intense a workout is. Thus, if you’re able to maintain an elevated heart rate for longer periods of time, you’ll burn more calories and fat while at the same time improving your cardiovascular fitness. On the flip side, if you routinely push yourself to your limits during a workout, a heart rate monitor can also alert you when the intensity of your workout regimen threatens your heart’s health.

What should you look for in a heart rate monitor?

  • Accuracy: A heart rate monitor is only as good as it is accurate. Most serious athletes prefer chest strap heart rate monitors that utilize electrocardiography to accurately produce detailed heart rate metrics throughout the course of a workout. However, many wrist and armband heart rate monitors have also come a long way in terms of accuracy over the years. Many consider these devices to be somewhat more comfortable than chest strap designs, even if they may provide somewhat less accurate data.
  • Comfort: In order to function properly, heart rate monitors need to be fit securely to your body and stay put over the course of a workout. If you’re looking for a chest band heart rate monitor, be sure to find a product that mitigates chafing issues during prolonged, sweaty workouts. While chafing is less of an issue with heart rate monitors that are worn around your arm or wrist, it can be challenging to keep these products in place. Thus, if shopping for one of these, be sure to invest in a design that can be securely strapped to your arm without moving, even in the midst of vigorous physical activity.
  • Functionality: Your heart rate data can provide invaluable information to your fitness coach or personal trainer, but first, you’ll need a way to export the data in a way that’s easy to read and understand. Finding a model that can be synced to your favorite fitness app is a good idea since this will allow you to track the data over time and can even organize it into handy charts and graphs. Downloading data to a computer is another great option so that you can visualize your heart health improvement over time. At the very least, check to see if the heart rate monitor you want to buy is compatible with your favorite fitness apps and products and allows for the simple export of your workout data.

Do you need a heart rate monitor if you’re not an athlete?

Nobody needs a heart rate monitor to get a good workout. However, if you’re in the midst of a fitness plateau and struggling to reach the next level, a heart rate monitor can certainly help. Those with health conditions that require them to stay under a certain heart rate threshold can also greatly benefit from a heart rate monitor, especially if they wish to continue living an active lifestyle. However, for most ordinary men and women, a heart rate monitor is not a must-have tool to have in your fitness arsenal. That being said, given how accurate and inexpensive modern heart rate monitors have become, they’re definitely an excellent thing to have for those who take their workouts and physical fitness seriously.

Our Picks for the Best Heart Rate Monitors

Top Pick

Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor

Comfortable, accurate, and incredibly versatile, this an amazing product to track your heart rate during vigorous workout sessions.

Pros: The Polar H10 isn’t just one of the most comfortable chest strap heart rate monitors out there; it’s also one of the most highly accurate products on the market. Additionally, its ANT+ and Bluetooth compatibility ensure it’s compatible with a wide range of smartwatches, apps, and fitness machines. This model also scores points for its great battery life (weeks of continuous use), and it performs well in water, making it a versatile pick that will exceed the needs of many.

Cons: While this is one of the most accurate options out there for tracking your heart rate over the course of a workout, it’s not nearly as accurate when resting. Thus, this product isn’t recommended for all-day (or night) wear. Also, the Polar app does take some getting used to.

Bottom Line: Chest strap heart rate monitors are known for highly accurate results, but the Polar H10 takes it to the next level. Overall, there’s a lot to love about this product and very little to hate, although those seeking an option for all-day wear are better off seeking out a watch or wristband with HRM functionality.


Best Value

COOSPO Heart Rate Monitor Armband

This budget-friendly heart rate monitor sports the compatibility options of premium products and impressive accuracy given its low price.

Pros: Due to its budget-friendly price point and wide compatibility with popular fitness apps and gadgets, the COOSPO Heart Rate Monitor Armband is an excellent entry-level heart rate monitor. While not waterproof, this product remains secure and accurate, even when breaking a sweat. In terms of accuracy, it won’t compare to a high-quality chest strap HRM but outperforms just about any other budget HRM you can throw at it.

Cons: With an average battery life of about a day, you’ll definitely have to remind yourself to recharge this device frequently to prevent missing out on heart rate data during a gym session. Also, while this device can be worn while washing your hands, you’ll want to keep it far away from the lake or pool if you want it to last.

Bottom Line: Budget heart rate monitor armbands tend to be incredibly hit-or-miss, so it’s refreshing that this one from COOSPO gets the important things right. While this device lacks the versatility and longevity of premium options, it’s still the best choice out there for gymgoers who want to dip their toes into the world of heart rate monitors without investing too much upfront.


Best for Runners

Garmin HRM-Run

Sporting advanced functionality that's tailor-made for runners, this is an excellent buy for Garmin fitness watch owners.

Pros: For those with compatible Garmin fitness watches, the Garmin HRM-Run provides detailed running data that goes well beyond what’s offered by other top heart rate monitors. Its ability to track cadence, ground contact time, stride length, and more is a data junkie’s dream and can lead to some real improvements in performance. It’s also comfortable, secure, and accurate, even when drenched in sweat and engaged in a full sprint.

Cons: As implied above, in order to take advantage of this device’s full functionality, you’ll need to own or purchase a compatible Garmin fitness watch. While you have plenty of compatible options, this will add to the cost of your investment if you don’t already own one. Also, the durability of the strap is somewhat disappointing, given this product’s premium price tag.

Bottom Line: If you’re not a runner, this isn’t a heart rate monitor for you. However, if you’re willing to make an investment in order to improve your running form and times, this is the best product out there that can help you do just that. Assuming, of course, you’re willing to buy into other Garmin fitness tech.


Best Watch

Fitbit Inspire 2 Health & Fitness Tracker

Designed for everyday use and sporting a built-in heart rate monitor, this fitness tracker scores points in terms of comfort and advanced features.

Pros: For those seeking a heart rate monitor that can be comfortably worn all day and night, the Fitbit Inspire 2 gives you the best bang for your buck. It’s a huge improvement over its predecessor, thanks to its built-in heart rate monitor, and it can even provide heart rate variability and resting heart rate trends to track your heart health. Of course, it’s a Fitbit, so it’s exceptionally comfortable to wear and packs a lot of functionality for those seeking to live a more active lifestyle.

Cons: While the Inspire 2’s compact display is bright and readable (especially when compared to the Inspire 1), its small size limits what information can be provided when looking at the device. Additionally, it’s important to note that some of the more useful heart health features (such as month-long heart rate variability trends) are only available to paid subscribers, so they will be blocked after your one-year free premium subscription lapses.

Bottom Line: If you’re in the market for an affordable heart rate monitor and fitness tracker that’s designed for tracking everyday fitness goals, this is a fantastic choice. However, keep in mind that premium features cost almost as much as the device itself after the one-year free trial, making this a more pricey long-term option for monitoring your heart rate.


Most Versatile

Garmin HRM-Tri Heart Rate Monitor

Featuring a great feature set for running, swimming, and biking, this heart rate monitor is as versatile and accurate as they come.

Pros: Sporting the advanced running metrics of the HRM-Run, plus reliable cached swimming heart rate data that are automatically sent to a compatible device once you’re out of the water, the HRM-Tri is a triathlete’s dream. It can also be used for years without needing to change the battery and is as lightweight and comfortable as other chest straps on the market. Assuming you have (or are prepared to invest in) a Garmin multisport watch, this is the most versatile heart rate monitor available today.

Cons: Like the Garmin HRM-Run, this heart rate monitor requires a Garmin smartwatch in order to unlock its full functionality. This fact alone will drive up the cost of investment and may force you to turn away from tried-and-true fitness products that have served you well in the past. Also, its data-heavy nature might be too much for those who aren’t interested in diving headfirst into advanced analytics.

Bottom Line: Realistically, this product’s specialized nature will primarily appeal to a small subsection of fitness nuts who enjoy swimming, biking, and running. So, triathletes who are serious about improving their performance and everyday fitness enthusiasts who like to mix up their workouts will find a lot to love in this device’s data-heavy offerings.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there’s a lot of diversity in the world of heart rate monitors. This might surprise some, given how simple the idea of monitoring one’s heart rate is at its core. That being said, it’s not difficult to find the heart rate monitor that’s right for you as long as you consider your needs before shopping, as well as the demands of your fitness regimen.

Zachary McCarthy Zachary McCarthy
Zachary McCarthy is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. He has a bachelor's degree in English from James Madison University and experience in blogging, copywriting, and WordPress design and development. In his free time, he can be found frying up Tangsuyuk or watching Korean films and MMA events. Read Full Bio »
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