Journal of Physical Activity Research
ISSN (Print): 2574-4437 ISSN (Online): 2574-4437 Website: Editor-in-chief: Peter Hart
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Journal of Physical Activity Research. 2017, 2(2), 112-116
DOI: 10.12691/jpar-2-2-8
Open AccessArticle

The Accuracy of Wrist-worn Heart Rate Monitors across a Range of Exercise Intensities

Paul Hough1, , Mark Glaister1 and Adam Pledger1

1School of Sport, Health & Applied Science, St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London, TW1 4SX, United Kingdom

Pub. Date: November 25, 2017

Cite this paper:
Paul Hough, Mark Glaister and Adam Pledger. The Accuracy of Wrist-worn Heart Rate Monitors across a Range of Exercise Intensities. Journal of Physical Activity Research. 2017; 2(2):112-116. doi: 10.12691/jpar-2-2-8


Commercially available wrist-worn heart rate (HR) monitors have become increasingly popular. However, the accuracy of the devices across a range of exercise intensities is largely unknown. This study investigated the accuracy of four wrist-worn HR monitors (Apple Watch Series 1, Fitbit Charge, TomTom Touch, and Mio Fuse). Eighteen adults completed three trials on a cycle ergometer wearing a chest-worn HR monitor (Polar). Trial 1 established the HR-power output relationship, and resting and maximum HR. In trials 2 and 3, participants were fitted to an electrocardiogram (ECG) and completed a step test consisting of 5 x 3 minute stages at 40 - 80% of HR reserve (determined in trial 1) whilst wearing two wrist-worn HR monitors. Relative to ECG, there were no differences in HR between the devices during exercise (p = 0.239), and no device × exercise intensity interaction (p = 0.370). There were no instances where ECG and Polar data differed by ≥ 5 b·min-1. Conversely, there were two instances (2.2%) with the Apple, four (4.4%) with the Mio, 10 (11.1%) with the TomTom, and 19 (21.1%) with the Fitbit. A chest-worn HR monitor offers greater accuracy compared to wrist-worn devices.

Heart-rate accuracy fitness watch technology

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