Best heart rate monitors iMore 2021
The best heart rate monitors provide a myriad of benefits. They deliver the most accurate stats, including optimal heart rate zones, fat burning zones, and calorie burn, so you can get the most out of every training session. Most heart rate monitors connect seamlessly with smartwatches, fitness trackers, and fitness apps, so you can track and record your progress over time and reach your training goals. We love the Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor. It's highly accurate, waterproof up to 30 meters, and features great connectivity. Plus, it has built-in memory so you can work out without your phone, then download your stats later.
- Best overall: The Polar H10
- Best value: The Polar OH1
- Best features: The Garmin HRM Pro
- Best armband: The Scosche Rhythm Plus 2.0 Heart Rate Monitor
- Best wristband: The Fitbit Inspire 2
- Best budget: The Polar H9
Best overall: The Polar H10
The Polar H10 is one of the most accurate and popular heart rate monitors on the market. It can connect to many sports and smartwatches, and the affiliated app, Polar Beat, has tons of different fitness apps such as Strava and Nike. It is compatible with all heart rate monitoring cardio equipment, so you can connect to your favorite machines at the gym as well. It is widely recognized for its top precision and is the most accurate heart rate sensor in Polar's history.
It uses Bluetooth, ANT+, and 5 kHz to provide excellent connectivity options. You can use Bluetooth and ANT+ connections simultaneously, as well as two Bluetooth connections simultaneously, so you never have to worry about missing a chance to connect and record your data. It's compatible with Android and iOS. This heart rate sensor also features built-in memory for one training session, so you don't always have to bring your phone to your workout and can download your data later.
You wear the Polar H10 around your chest. It's easy to use and has silicone dots on the back; it stays put when you're on the move. It's soft, interference-free, and comfortable to wear, and machine washable. It's also suitable for swimming and is waterproof up to 30 meters. On the downside, this sensor is worn around the chest (for accuracy). Some people prefer wearing their heart rate sensors in a more convenient location like the arm or the wrist.
- Highly accurate
- Waterproof up to 30 meters
- Great connectivity
- Built-in memory
- Must wet the back to get sensor to work
- Wraps around chest
Best value: The Polar OH1
The Polar OH1 is a compact and versatile optical heart rate sensor that measures heart rate from your arm or temple. It's a great alternative to chest straps. It features six high-quality LED optical heart rate sensors, Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity, built-in memory, 12 hours of battery life, and it's waterproof up to 30 meters.
It works seamlessly with Polar Beat, Polar's free fitness and training app. Polar OH1 is also compatible with many popular fitness apps on both iOS and Android phones, such as Strava and Nike. Polar Oh1 has built-in memory for up to 200 hours of training.
After your workouts, you can sync your training sessions easily to Polar Flow via the Polar Beat app. This purchase also includes a convenient swimming goggle strap clip for easy and comfortable use in the pool. Take note that the rechargeable battery and charging station are small. Some find that they're easy to misplace.
- Six LED heart rate sensors
- Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity
- Built-in memory for 200 hours of training
- Syncs seamlessly with Polar Beat
- Works with iOS and Android phones
- Battery and charging station are small
Best features: The Garmin HRM Pro
This premium heart rate band transmits real-time heart rate data over ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity, giving you ample training options. You can consistently receive accurate heart rate on your Garmin devices, online training apps such as Zwift, or compatible fitness equipment at the gym.
In addition to heart rate, the HRM Pro captures running dynamics that can help you improve your form. That includes vertical oscillation, ground contact time, stride length, vertical ratio, and more. This device can store heart rate data during swimming or other activities while your watch is out of range, then sends that data to your watch once the activity is finished.
It will also store steps, calories, and intensity minutes, then sync those stats to your watch or device as well. This monitor features a small, lightweight design with a soft, comfortable strap. The user-replaceable coin cell battery lasts up to one year, depending on use. On the downside, this monitor is pricey, but you're paying for the additional running dynamics and activity tracking on top of heart rate monitoring.
- Captures running dynamics
- Tracks daily activity
- ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity
- Seamlessly transfers data to Garmin wearables
- Stap is tight on some
Best armband: The Scosche Rhythm Plus 2.0 Heart Rate Monitor
The Scosche Rhythm+ 2.0 is hyper-accurate, comfortable, easily connected, sturdy, and stylish. This armband's patented optical sensor technology utilizes green and yellow LEDs to measure blood flow for a highly accurate reading that works with all skin tones. A built-in accelerometer further assists in providing accurate measurements.
This heart rate monitor works with smartphones, smartwatches, and fitness equipment and has a 100-foot wireless range. Its dual-mode radio transmits to ANT+ and Bluetooth devices. It features a rechargeable battery that provides up to 24 hours of workout time between charges. A compact charger and charging cord are included.
Unfortunately, there is no way to tell how much battery life is left on this monitor without the Rhythm Sync app. Additionally, while some of the other monitors on this list feature multiple wireless connections at once, the Scosche can only connect to one Bluetooth or ANT+ device at a time.
- Comfortable and flexible
- Very accurate
- 24-hour battery life
- ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity
- The app itself doesn't do much
- Only one active Bluetooth smart connection at a time
Best wristband: The Fitbit Inspire 2
Fitbit Inspire 2 is an all-day activity tracker that features 24/7 heart rate monitoring. It showcases Active Zone Minutes, which give your wrist a buzz when you reach your personalized target heart rate zone. It will track all-day activity like your steps, distance, hourly activity, and calories burned. It sends and stores all of this data in the Fitbit app.
It also comes loaded with 20+ workout profiles to track your performance stats. Use 24/7 heart rate monitoring to track resting heart rate and better measure your overall calorie burn. It offers 10 days of battery life on a full charge and comes in three colors to suit your personal style. Note that the screen is sometimes difficult to see outdoors and that some users have some accuracy complaints.
- 24/7 heart rate
- All-day activity tracking
- Active Zone Minutes
- 20+ workout profiles
- Screen is hard to see outdoors
- Accuracy issues
Best budget: The Polar H9
The Polar H9 is highly accurate and very affordable, making it a great value. It features excellent connectivity options and can connect to sports and smartwatches, activity trackers, gym equipment, apps, and other Bluetooth and ANT+ devices. It's compatible with Android and iOS and easily pairs with the Polar Beat app, which gives you access to over 100+ workout profiles.
With Polar Beat, you can track things like workout routes, distance traveled, calorie burn, speed (where applicable), and the duration of your training sessions. You can also subscribe to upgrades for an additional cost and access things like personalized training advice, fitness tests, and finding your running index. To use this heart rate monitor, you wet the rubber back of the band and fasten the band snugly around your chest. Then, snap in the heart rate sensor, pair it with the Polar Beat app, and you're ready to go!
Keep in mind that you do have to wet the back of the band before fastening it around your chest to get this sensor to work, and it is slightly visible under clothing. Some users also found it annoying to wear this sensor around their chest and prefer wearing it somewhere more convenient, like the wrist or arm.
- High-quality heart rate monitoring
- Accurate stats
- Pair with Polar Beat app to track your training and reach your goals.
- Easy to use and care for
- Must wet band before use
- Worn around chest
- Visible under clothes
Get the most out of your training sessions by using one of the best heart rate monitors. It is by far the most accurate and effective way to track your real-time heart rate, optimal training zones, and calories burned. Whether you prefer to wear your heart sensor around your chest, arm, temple, or wrist, we've got the perfect product for you on this list of the best heart rate monitors. If you're looking for a fitness wearable that also tracks heart rate, check out our list of best fitness trackers with heart rate monitors.
Our favorite overall is the Polar H10. It's highly accurate, swim-proof up to 30 meters, has great connectivity, and features built-in memory for one training session. It's great, so you don't always have to have your phone on hand and can download and record your data later. Whatever you're looking for in a heart rate sensor, you'll find it here on this list of best heart rate monitors.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Nicolette Roux is a master fitness instructor and health enthusiast from Los Angeles, CA. She strongly advocates the use of a heart rate monitor in your training sessions so you can get the most accurate stats, track your progress over time, and reach your fitness goals.
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