An important function of pulse watches and meanwhile also more and more fitness trackers is the optical heart rate measurement directly on your wrist. Where many health-conscious people now prefer this method in sports and in everyday life, others criticize that the heart rate measurement on the wrist is inaccurate. It doesn’t have to be because of the measurement method or the quality of your fitness tracker if it provides unrealistic results in heart rate measurement or if the measurement is interrupted.
Advantages of training with Fitness Trackers
Heart rate is a reliable indicator of physical stress during exercise or workouts. Depending on the training goal you are aiming for, a specific heart rate is required. For example, if you want to see or increase your maximum performance, a higher effort is required than if you want to improve your stamina.
If you let your heart rate be recorded while working out, you can evaluate your physical exertion and adjust your workout routine to the heart rate zone at any time. This way you work effectively towards your training goal and avoids under exertion or overexertion.
The optical heart rate measurement on the wrist is for many the more convenient alternative to the chest strap. Although the chest strap is considered to be the most accurate variant of heart rate measurement, it measures the heartbeat almost directly at the heart. But people who wears it find it uncomfortable because it can clot and scrub on the skin.
With the fitness trackers that can be worn on your wrist, the heart rate can also be recorded not only during sports, but at any kind of daily exercise, as it is worn like a wristwatch and is very compatible with everyday life (with a chest strap, few would walk around all day) and can also be paired with your smartphones.
How do fitness trackers track your heart rate
During sports or daily activities, your blood vessels expand because the heart works harder and more oxygen-rich blood is transported from the heart to the body. This changed blood volume takes advantage of the optical heart rate measurement: On the back of the housing of your fitness tracker there is an optical sensor and at least 2 LED lights.
The LED light illuminates your blood vessels on your wrist and, depending on the blood volume, is either reflected or absorbed. Using the reflective light, the sensor detects changes in blood volume and determines your heartbeats per minute.
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These factors can affect measurement accuracy
If you feel that the heart rate measurement somehow doesn’t work or that it’s not consistently recorded, it may be due to one of these factors:
- Bad fit of the sports watch on the wrist
- Dirty sensor
- Strong arm hair
- A very dark skin
- Cold or heat
- Many fast arm movements