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Running can play a big part in keeping fit and healthy. And determining your heart rate while you're running will tell you whether you're in that all important fat-burning zone.
If you want to get yourself a heart rate monitor for your runs, you’ve certainly come to the right place. We’ve handpicked our Top 5 heart rate monitors that are out on the market today, including many best sellers and top brands, and our reviews on them are coming up shortly. After that we have a handy guide covering the main things you will want to think about to choose the right heart monitor for you.
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Best Heart Rate Monitor Running - Comparison Table
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Best Heart Rate Monitor Running - Reviews
This is a great little heart rate monitor from that great brand, Garmin. And we aren’t the only ones who think so - after well over 2000 customer ratings, the customer average rating comes in at a really good 4 stars out of 5.
It’s a chest strap which can store up to 20 hours worth of accurate heart rate data - long enough for an all day marathon. And it can send real time heart rate data over to compatible Garmin watches so you know exactly what your heart rate is at any time (except if you took it swimming as well as running).
But it doesn’t just monitor your heart rate - there’s a special accelerometer included which provides feedback on running form by measuring vertical oscillation, cadence, and ground contact time. (See the Running Dynamics paragraph on the Amazon page for more details.)
It’s a comfortable lightweight strap with rounded edges that won’t pinch the skin, so it remains comfortable after several hours of training.
If you were to use it for say, 1 hour a day, you’d get a good 10 months worth out of the battery. And when you’ve run the battery down, it’s simple to replace.
And with Garmin’s free online community, Garmin Connect, you can see a complete picture of your activities including heart rate graphs, and you can devise your own training plan.
If you don’t like wearing chest straps, this nifty little HRM from Scosche is a great alternative. Although it goes on your arm, you wear it further up than your wrist, so you can still keep wearing your favorite smartwatch or sports watch at the same time.
It’s selling really well on Amazon,as you can see by the 1000 plus customer ratings. And customer feedback has been really positive too, with an average customer rating of 4 stars out of a possible 5.
It’s available in a few different colors and comes as a pack of 2, so you will always have one to wear while the other is in the wash.
With this HRM you get remarkably accurate heart rate data, made possible by patented optical sensor technology.
And combined with a Bluetooth or ANT+ connection to your iPhone or Android apps, you get accurate real time data about the ongoing intensity of your workout. Speaking of which, there are hundreds of different apps it will work with, including DigiFit, Run keeper, MapMyFitness and Strava.
It’s designed to be breathable, but if you do start to sweat with it, that won’t impair its functionality - its IP67 waterproof rated so it can take on both your sweat and a downpour of rain if you get caught out in it.
It will work for a full 8 hours after a full charge, which is plenty for most runs, or you could do a run in the morning and one in the early evening and charge at night.
The instruction manual can be downloaded from the Amazon page, so you can check out how easy it is to use before you buy.
This heart rate monitor is one of the best selling models in the category on Amazon, just flying off the shelves. And customer feedback has been really positive too - after well over 1000 ratings, the average customer rating comes in at a nice 4 stars out of 5.
And Garmin remains one of the most favored brands among serious athletes.
It comes as a strap that you wear across your chest. It provides an accurate and continuous readout for your heart rate but you don’t need special optics or mirrors to read it - the data can be sent over a Bluetooth connection to a compatible Garmin GPS wearable, such as a Garmin smartwatch.
This way you’re provided with real time information on what your heart rate is and ultimately what work out zone you’re currently in. Giving you important information on whether you need to keep going, ramp it up, or whether it’s time to cool down.
The strap is nice and comfortable, and you can adjust it either as your size changes, or adjust for different users.
It’s easy to clean too, the heart rate module can be removed from the strap, and can be washed in accordance with the instructions provided.
It’s got a really good battery on it too, that will last well over 3 years, possibly up to 5 years. But you don’t need to buy a new strap when it finally does run out of juice, you can simply replace the battery.
Being Garmin, you can use it in connection with some really cool apps, like Zwift, which offers training programs tailored to your fitness level.
It’s also water resistant, so can handle a run in the rain.
OK, so this is strictly an entire smartwatch rather than just a heart rate monitor, but when we tell you about it’s HRM functionality, we think you’ll agree with us that it’s worthy of inclusion.
This Fitbit watch tracks your heart rate 24 hours and day 7 days a week, so it knows your resting heart rate. And then when you go for a run, rather than having to keep checking your watch or phone to see where your heart rate is, or what workout zone you’re in, the watch will give a buzz vibration on your wrist to let you know when you reach your target heart rate zone. How cool is that!
There’s also built in GPS so you can track what distance you’ve run. It’s also nice to see how much your heart rate changes when you go uphill.
When you’re done with your run and you're taking a shower, you don’t need to worry if you’ve left your watch on, it’s not just waterproof, it’s swim proof.
Of course being a Fitbit it can also do a lot more than that - it can play your favorite songs, which is great while you're running and can really get you motivated. It can also pass on your calls, texts, smartphone notifications, track your sleep, and make payments for purchases.
The battery will last up to a week on a full charge, unless you decide to use the GPS which really drains the battery.
So if you’re in the market for a new heart rate monitor and you’re also considering buying a new fitness tracker watch, you could do a lot worse than go with this beauty.
We think this is a very reasonable price for Fitbit, and looking at the customer feedback, most people seem to feel it’s well worth the money.
If you’re after a heart rate monitor chest strap that is compatible with other wearables besides Garmin, then this is hands down the one to go for.
It’s been flying off the shelves at Amazon, with well over 1500 customers bringing about an average customer rating of an impressive 4 and a half stars out of 5.
It’s available in a couple of different sizes, and in a few different colors, or you could buy a multipack, so you can run as a couple, or wear one while the other is in the wash (remember to detach the monitor first).
It offers supremely precise heart rate data according to several experts, providing that all-important data you need to tailor your training on the go as required.
Customers love how comfortable it is too.
It’s USP though is how it’s compatible with many forms of equipment and training apps on both iOS and Android operating systems.
If you wanted to try it with the brand's own apps though, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed. The Polar Beat app, not only gives you that real time heart rate data, but also gives live voice guidance in accordance with your training plan.
Best Heart Rate Monitor Running - Buyers Guide
There are a number of different things to think about when choosing your ideal heart rate monitor. There's accuracy of course, there’s how comfortable it is to wear, there's the connectivity to your devices, there’s what apps are compatible with, there’s battery life, there’s whether it can take a bit of rain, and additionally you may also be interested in special features. Let’s walk you through.
Accuracy should be your first and foremost consideration. Getting in accurate picture of what your heart rate (or blood pressure) is, is imperative in ascertaining what work out zone you’re currently in. This can determine things like whether it’s time to step up your workout intensity, or whether you need to pace yourself, or if you’re currently in the fat burning zone.
In general chest straps are deemed to be considerably more accurate than their smartwatch counterparts, which is why the majority of the heart rate monitors that make up our Top 5 are chest strap monitors, specifically our Number 1, 3, and 5 picks. This aspect brings us onto our next subheading.
Your heart rate needs to be comfortable to wear, if you end up taking your heart rate monitor off half way through your run because it's too uncomfortable, you won’t get continuous readings and your money will have been wasted.
All of the chest straps in our Top 5 are adjustable and will get a great fit.
We think all of our HRMs in our Top 5 can be comfortable to wear but some people just don’t like wearing chest straps. For this reason we’ve included some other types of HRMs in our Top 5, specifically a HRM smartwatch in the Number 4 pick, and also an armband HRM that you can wear on your arm along with your favorite smartwatch or sports watch, which is our Number 2 pick.
Many of us get sweaty when we run, especially when we hit the fat burning zone, so if this is you, you might be interested in our Number 2 pick, the Scosche Rhythm+, as it’s designed to be breathable.
Device and App Compatibility
In our Top 5 HRMs, we’ve included 2 products from one of the dominant brands in sports gears, namely Garmin. These are our Number 1 and Number 3 picks.
Unfortunately however these Garmin chest straps are only compatible with certain Garmin devices, which is fine if you have these devices already or intend to buy them. But many runners use different devices, and more significantly, different apps.
Our Number 2, 4, and 5 picks are all compatible with both iOS and Android devices and consequently can be used with a greater range of running and fitness apps.
You may be lucky enough to live in an area that doesn’t get a lot of rain, but for many of us who run, you may get caught in a bit of rain, and you’ll need your HRM to keep on working regardless.
Also, if your HRM is so comfortable you forget you’ve got it on you may end up taking it in the shower with you.
All the HRMs we’ve shown you have some form of water resistance, but the ones that perform the best are our Number 1, 2, and 4 picks.
The most common way to connect your heart rate monitor to your other devices is Bluetooth which all of the HRMs in our Top 5 feature. Some will also connect to devices via ANT+.
If you’re training for a marathon say, you’re going to want a HRM with battery life that will last for the duration of your runs. If this is important you to we can highly recommend either of the Garmin chest straps in our Top 5, or alternatively the Fitbit smartwatch & HRM which can be recharged.