A heart rate watch is one type of wearable technology that not only makes everyday life easier, but also helps you keep track of important aspects of your health. Often doubling as fitness trackers, these useful accessories can provide information about your heart’s activity.
“Smart watches and heart rate monitor watches report your heart rate, or how many times your heart beats per minute. They use technology that can detect pulsatile changes in blood volume under the skin,” explained Dr. Nicole Harkin, a board-certified cardiologist at Whole Heart Cardiology.
In other words, thanks to a small optical LED sensor on the watch’s underside that can measure the change in blood flow to your blood vessels, and in conjunction with data about how you move, can determine your resting and active heart rates.
“Both [rates] have implications for your heart health as they are a reflection of your cardiorespiratory fitness ... as well as the status of your autonomic nervous system,” Harkin said.
An elevated heart rate and a fluctuation in the time between heartbeats are both associated with a greater risk of heart conditions. Tracking this information with a smart watch is a great way to generally monitor your heart health on a daily basis, even if you don’t regularly engage in intense exercise.
There are a couple things to keep in mind to get the most accurate reading from your watch, according to Dr. Hafiza Khan, a board-certified clinical cardiac electrophysiologist at Baylor Scott and White Health.
“If worn too tightly, the band can interfere with blood flow. Even if the optical sensor can pick up a signal, it won’t be accurate because blood cannot flow through your wrist naturally,” Khan said. “But if worn too loosely, space and air can prevent the optical LED monitor from capturing your heart rate at all.”
Below, we rounded up five highly-reviewed heart rate watches, each of which can be great to add to your everyday routine, according to promising reviews.
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