14 October 2018

How to get more accurate optical (wrist) heart rate readings ...

Optical (or wrist) heart rate technology measures heart rate via LEDs that track blood flow under your skin. The accuracy of measurement is influenced by a number of factors and varies by person, their individual differences and by sport. 

In this article, I will write some tips to get the most accurate measurements from your device. It is extremely important that you wear the watch properly.


Suggestions for wearing:
1. IMPORTANT - To measure wrist-based heart rate accurately, you need to wear your watch snugly on top of your wrist as high as possible. Experiences show that the best position is about 1-2 fingers above your wrist bone. It looks quite strange at the beginning, but believe me, it is the most important rule. The sensor must be in firm skin contact, but not too tight to prevent blood flow.
I will repeat - wear watch fairly tightly and about one finger above the wrist bone!
Check distance from watch to wrist bone on the picture above.
Check how much a watch should be tightened on the picture below. Otherwise, the watch will slip from its best position or sensor won't be able to read your heart rate properly.


2. Wear your watch at least a few minutes prior to starting the heart rate measurement. This ensures your watch provides stable readings.
3. Avoid too cold skin. It is a good idea to warm up the skin if your hands and skin get cold easily. Get the blood going before starting your session! When exercising in cold temperatures, your body attempts to keep your core body temperature stable by directing the blood flow from arms and legs towards the core of your body. This reduction in blood flow to the arms can make it more difficult for the sensor to measure heart rate accurately.

Additional information:
The chest strap is always a backup solution. My Polar M430 works excellent with a chest strap (Polar H7). Especially in sports where it's more challenging to keep the sensor stationary on your wrist or where you have pressure near the sensor, I recommend using a heart rate sensor with a chest strap to get a better measurement of your heart rate.
And don't forget that some sort of people simply has more problems with wrist heart rate measurements: skin with tattoos, fat people, hairy skin ...

Your comments are welcome.

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