HR monitoring with watches

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HR monitoring with watches

Postby figlover » Sat Dec 01, 2018 9:04 am

Hi Jeff......I was wondering about your current assessment of heart monitors included in Fitbit, Apple Watch, etc. I read from you awhile back that there was too much inaccuracy recommending the watches but recent advances may have influenced you to change your opinion. Have there been any real advances since your last assessment?
Thank you!
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Re: HR monitoring with watches

Postby JeffN » Sat Dec 01, 2018 9:34 am

figlover wrote:Hi Jeff......I was wondering about your current assessment of heart monitors included in Fitbit, Apple Watch, etc. I read from you awhile back that there was too much inaccuracy recommending the watches but recent advances may have influenced you to change your opinion. Have there been any real advances since your last assessment?
Thank you!


My position remains the same as discussed here

viewtopic.php?f=22&t=50624

I recently spoke to both Garmin and Polar over the phone as I was looking for anything new in the chest strap watch arena, which there isn’t. The both agreed that the optic sensors are not as accurate, especially in regard to higher intensity, intervals, running etc. For a general walk and a steady pace, they are OK. Some trackers/watches will sync with a Bluetooth chest strap, which will be more accurate.

I asked them..., so are you saying that consumers are more interested in convenience then accuracy? And they both agreed.

If the new Apple Watch actually gets the ECG app to work correctly (which is a big “if”), they may be moving in the right direction, but we will see, when it gets released this week. (UPDATE 4/2020: To date, it it not very accurate).

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Re: HR monitoring with watches

Postby JeffN » Tue Dec 25, 2018 10:17 am

This is a good review and raises the concerns I have. Apparently, by this testing, the Apple 3 & 4 did the best, along with the Samsung Galaxy. You can see the HR issues with many of the others.

https://www.tomsguide.com/us/heart-rate ... -2885.html

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Re: HR monitoring with watches

Postby JeffN » Thu May 23, 2019 6:55 am

Just over a month ago, the Apple Watch 3 was on sale for $199.00 (Wi-fi only). I decided for that price (cheaper then many of the Fitbits) I would give it a try, especially considering the results I linked above.

I have been testing it for 5 weeks.

The good news...

it definitely measures HR (most of the time) much better then any of the others I have tested and almost as accurate as my Polar Chest Strap. Based on my experience, my resting HR, walking HR, exercise HR and my 1 and 2 minute post exercise HR recoveries (a feature I like) were all fairly accurate and for me, more then "good enough." The only negative was that while its responsiveness was much better then the others I have tried when doing intervals and other quick changes in intensity, it was not perfect. Part of the reason is unlike the polar chest strap, it is not a continuous reading. So, it is much better, but not excellent. The stairs tracking seems fairly accurate too.

I have no proven standard to measure the sleep monitor and calories burned with and think most of them are fairly inaccurate. Compared to other similar trackers, the sleep seems about the same and the calories burned on it seems low. Hopefully, they are consistently inaccurate. :)

It also tracks total movement (in calories), total exercise (in minutes) and standing (hours in which you've stood and moved for at least a minute). During activity, it also breaks calories into active calories (those burned during the activity), and total calories (the active calories plus RMR). I think some of this is confusing and overkill, especially considering it may not be accurate.

https://www.cultofmac.com/387661/apple- ... nt-add-up/

It does give me reminders throughout the day if I have not stood up and moved around during the hour.

It is much more convenient then the chest strap and can do 24 hour monitoring.

The bad news...

The battery. You have to recharge it every day. Battery life is "up to" 18 hours and I probably use more of the apps that drain it.

Considering all the above, I am keeping it and will use it.

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Re: HR monitoring with watches

Postby JeffN » Wed May 20, 2020 10:38 am

One year later...

I still have the Apple Watch and while I enjoy it for some of the things it does, the fitness monitoring is not really one of them and falling out of favor. It is good to look at the numbers, but I am not convinced on how accurate they are, and often less so as time passes. And, any degree of accuracy seems to be pretty much at activities of either low intensities or without variations of intensities. I was doing sprints this week with a few sets of 30 second on and 30 second off and it couldn’t keep up with the changing intensities and was just catching up to the higher intensities when I was done with the set.

The battery life is also an issue as one must constantly be charging it every day, where many fitness watches are getting several days or more.

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Re: HR monitoring with watches

Postby JeffN » Mon Oct 26, 2020 1:17 pm

I dont’t know if this has existed for a while, or is new with a recent update, but I just noticed it. They are admitting to some of the problems I mentioned above.

If you choose High Intensity Interval Workout,this comes up....

“Some of the irregular movements in HIIT workouts might prevent a heart rate measurement. If heart rate isn't available, calories are still tracked using the built-in accelerometer. If you're not able to get a consistent heart rate during HIIT workouts, you can connect your Apple Watch to a Bluetooth chest strap.”

Supposedly, the newest Apple watch is more accurate then previous models but in the end, I don’t see how a wrist based heart rate monitor will be as accurate as a chest strap especially during higher intensity or when switching intensities.

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Re: HR monitoring with watches

Postby figlover » Mon Oct 26, 2020 6:04 pm

I was thinking recently of checking back in with you about how well the HR wrist monitoring tech is advancing. I upgraded to a Fitbit Charge recently, which has 24 hour HR monitoring as a default setting. It seems to track consistently. I don’t care if it is exact but only that it’s giving me enough numerical feedback to motivate my behavior. It is pretty interesting what it is deducing about my sleep quality. It seems to be able to depict graphically on the app my sleep stage amounts with oxygen saturation levels, REM/DEEP/LIGHT/ Time awake between stages. It’s fun seeing all that. I was a little worried that I was sleeping worse than average but it turns out I’m quite normal with sleep patterns.

Do you like tracking any of that? How well do you sleep?

I don’t know if I’ll ever need interval training data accuracy. I tend to keep a cardio level going for awhile and then stop after 12-15 minutes. Kenn Cooper said something like that in his Aerobics Way book I read back in the 70’s. Didn’t he say that there was a point where the diminishing returns on time (not effort) for achieving a good base aerobic conditioning?

His ‘how far can you run in 12 minutes’ assessment was something that was also a good minimal amount for aerobic conditioning. Please tell me that’s correct. I don’t want to do any more heavy breathing than I have to. :D
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Re: HR monitoring with watches

Postby JeffN » Mon Oct 26, 2020 6:28 pm

Very interesting..... :)

figlover wrote: . I was thinking recently of checking back in with you about how well the HR wrist monitoring tech is advancing. I upgraded to a Fitbit Charge recently, which has 24 hour HR monitoring as a default setting. It seems to track consistently. I don’t care if it is exact but only that it’s giving me enough numerical feedback to motivate my behavior. It is pretty interesting what it is deducing about my sleep quality. It seems to be able to depict graphically on the app my sleep stage amounts with oxygen saturation levels, REM/DEEP/LIGHT/ Time awake between stages. It’s fun seeing all that. I was a little worried that I was sleeping worse than average but it turns out I’m quite normal with sleep patterns.


I have had the Fitbit Charge 2 and then 3 before I got the Apple Watch 3. I loved the battery life, the constant tracking and all the sleep info it gives you on the Fitbit Charge The only concern is how accurate it is, which I raised in another thread.

I was actually looking at the Charge 4 today and wondering if I might switch back.

figlover wrote: Do you like tracking any of that? How well do you sleep?


The Apple Watch just starting tracking sleep on its own and its not very detailed and for the first few weeks it was way off but a recent update seems to have fixed that. It had me waking up every day at 2 AM and sleeping only 4 hours, which was not even close. There were other apps that tracked sleep you could use on the Apple Watch and I used one called pillow. I am a really good sleeper. I spend about 8-9 hours in bed and sleep about 8 hours. The pillow app has my sleep rated as mostly restful in deeper stages but the Charge 3 had me spending more time in lighter sleep. I don't think they are very accurate in their sleep analysis.

Here is the thread where I cover all the accuracy issues.

viewtopic.php?f=22&t=50624&p=520068

figlover wrote: I don’t know if I’ll ever need interval training data accuracy. I tend to keep a cardio level going for awhile and then stop after 12-15 minutes. Kenn Cooper said something like that in his Aerobics Way book I read back in the 70’s. Didn’t he say that there was a point where the diminishing returns on time (not effort) for achieving a good base aerobic conditioning?


Yes. I show some graphs highlighting the issue in the main Exercise thread.

I do about 45 -60 minutes of moderate and aim for about 10-15 minutes of higher intensity 2-3x a week. The Apple Watch estimates your VO2 max, which I dont think is very accurate.

I have seen some newer sleep gadgets but no good evidence that the are any better.

I think in the end, I am pretty confident in my sleep and fitness. I like to see the numbers and details for the fun of it. I just wish they were more accurate.

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Re: HR monitoring with watches

Postby JeffN » Wed Jul 20, 2022 10:24 am

It’s been over 3 years and my feelings about the watch and these trackers is the same. However, I really got tired of the “up to 18 hour” battery life on the Apple Watch and so get a Garmin (Venu 2s) which can get “up to” 10 days of battery life. Currently I am on day 7 with room to spare. There are a few other things I like better about it though I think most all my main concerns remain. I appreciate the fitness related info.

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Re: HR monitoring with watches

Postby figlover » Thu Jul 21, 2022 9:18 am

Hi Jeff....yeah, the Garmin is on another level, very attractive. I went with a Fitbit Sense a few months ago after the Charge model took a sudden nose dive. The Sense has some display eye candy but it's not any more accurate than the other models.

A funny thing occurred while I was waiting for the new watch to arrive. Being that I had worn a Fitbit for 9 years and logged over 24 thousand miles it was a bit disorienting to not have my daily stats available. It was 'freeing' for a day or two and then it was like "I need to know!!!" lol

Anyway, back on track, locked into the data stream of life as we have become to know it.

BTW, do you download music (or poetry podcasts? :) to your device and listen with bluetooth headphones? I would get a Garmin just for that added feature. Maybe someday.
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Re: HR monitoring with watches

Postby JeffN » Thu Jul 21, 2022 11:07 am

>>>>Hi Jeff....yeah, the Garmin is on another level, very attractive.

Yes, The amount of data and the details of it is amazing and perfect for me, a data guy.

>>>A funny thing occurred while I was waiting for the new watch to arrive. Being that I had worn a Fitbit for 9 years and logged over 24 thousand miles it was a bit disorienting to not have my daily stats available. It was 'freeing' for a day or two and then it was like "I need to know!!!" lol

I know the feeling.

>>>>BTW, do you download music (or poetry podcasts? :) to your device and listen with bluetooth headphones? I would get a Garmin just for that added feature. Maybe someday.

I always have my phone with me and use that. Depending on the day I either listen to a podcast or audio book (not food or nutrition related), :) listen to some music, or catch up with some phone calls to friends and family.

On that note, I use the Apple AirPods 2. I tried the 3 and the pro and didn’t like their fit or the feel. I also have these on them to make them fit and sound better.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07GV ... =UTF8&th=1

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