A good quality heart rate monitor like the Apple Watch 4 can be an irreplaceable tool both for athletes as well as for regular people who want to maintain peace of mind and know-how their heart is performing at any time.
With a reliable heart rate monitor, you can detect irregularities as early as possible and seek timely care and help. With a device like this, you can also log and analyze your training performance as well as the quality of your recovery from a workout so that you can improve your results.
We have carefully reviewed various heart rate measuring devices and have come up with our ultimate top 10 lists of the best heart rate monitors for 2021.
Read on to find out more!
Our top pick for a heart rate monitor in 2021 is more of a smartwatch, but it is still one of the greatest wearable heart rate monitors out there. The Apple Watch Series 4 is an excellent smart fitness tracker from Apple when it comes to health benefits and features.
It will accurately measure your resting heart rate, as well as keep track and alert you about the heart zones during workouts or intensive physical activity via its unique electrical and optical heart sensors.
The smartwatch by Apple also has the ability to detect and notify you if anything is wrong with your heart rate, including detection of atrial fibrillation (AF), which, if not treated in time, can lead to serious and even fatal outcomes.
The smart wearable heart rate monitor will also alert you when it detects that your heart rate is too low or too high suddenly. You will be notified that you may need to see a physician.
What makes this smart heart rate monitor unique is its capability to perform an ECG (electrocardiogram), although this feature is only available in the US yet. It works with the WatchOS 5.1.2 update for the smartwatch.
You need to activate the app on your phone and hold the Digital Crown on the face of the watch so that there is a complete electrical circuit in your body. As a result, the data from your ECG will be sent to the Health app on your iPhone. You can export the results as a PDF file, and you also can add notes to every ECG about the circumstances so that you can later show the log or the results to your doctor.
The fall detection feature on the Apple SmartWatch 4 is automatically set up for people over the age of 65. This is a safety feature that will alert your contacts or 911 in case you fall down suddenly with an emergency SOS.
This 4th generation Apple Watch is the largest one know, so it is easy to see, even by elderly people or those with impaired vision. The display is 30% larger than its predecessors, and the loudspeaker is 50% louder.
It is available in different color options and in 2 sizes – 40mm and 44mm. It has built-in GPS and cellular connectivity. The ticking Digital Crown has haptic feedback. The watch is fitted with a powerful S4 SiP and a 64-bit dual-core processor.
It has the greatest accelerometers and gyroscopes among all wearable smart health trackers. It is completely waterproof, so you can monitor your heart rate even when swimming or when it is pouring and you are exercising outdoors.
The watch also features new hiking and yoga workouts, as well as advanced features for runners such as pace alerts and cadence. You can also set your goals, participate in monthly challenges, use the personalized coaching option, and set activity alerts for every day.
Thanks to the built-in cellular, you can take and make calls, use the watch as a walkie-talkie, stream your favorite music and use Siri without needing your phone. In fact, with the Apple Watch 4, you can leave your phone at home and feel safer than ever, thanks to its unique sensors, alert features, and health monitoring options.
As you can see, the Apple Watch 4 is more like having your physician with you at all times than like wearing a simple wearable fitness tracker. It is definitely a must-have for those of you who want accurate heart rate readings, notifications, and warnings when there is a problem with the heart rate, as well as the unique opportunity to do an ECG on yourself anytime you feel funny or like something is wrong with your heart.
Our runner up is yet another smart wrist-based heart rate monitor that has an excellent heart rate reading function. This is the flagship fitness tracker of Garmin and is designed for professional or hardcore triathletes and athletes. Still, even if you are neither of those, you can take advantage of the multiple features of this amazing health and fitness tracker.
It is made of soft and comfortable silicone, weighs a mere 1.76oz, and is 0.5 x 1.8 x 2.1 inches in size, so you can wear it all day and all night comfortably, no matter whether you are exercising intensively or sleeping.
It has a built-in GPS, a barometer, an electronic compass, and an altimeter. This watch will monitor and evaluate your training status and physical condition and will inform you if you can boost your performance or you are overdoing it a bit. This smart fitness tracker will also monitor your recovery, so you can prepare for your next race properly.
Since it is made for triathletes, it has a number of useful functions for swimming, running, and cycling, including ground contact time, stride length, balance, and others.
The wrist heart rate monitor by Garmin is offered in several different color options and can be paired with another one of our favorite products in this list – the Garmin HRM-Tri Heart Rate Monitor chest strap for even more accurate results and heart rate readings.
It has a long battery life, which can last for 2 weeks if you wear it in watch mode for 2 hours with the GPS on and up to 50 hours in the UltraTac mode.
You can connect it to your smartphone, upload it to Garmin Connect, share your activity with your friends, get call and message notifications, and others.
With a smartwatch like the Garmin Forerunner 935, you will have an accurate heart rate monitor on your wrist at all times, and if you add a chest strap, you can add functions like a heart rate variability stress test or a lactate threshold.
Best budget-friendly choice
If you are not a fan of fancy smart wearables, and would rather buy an affordable upper arm cuff heart rate monitor for under $30, then look no further. The Vive Precision Blood Pressure Machine is our top budget-friendly pick for 2021.
It will allow you to track your diastolic and systolic blood pressure easily and accurately in the privacy of your home or wherever you want.
The heart rate monitor has a large and bright LCD display, which will show your blood pressure readings and your pulse instantly.
All of the devices made by Vive are individually tested and calibrated for guaranteed accuracy.
The digital blood pressure monitor comes with all of the parts you need to start measuring your heart rate and blood pressure immediately – the monitor itself and a cuff that fits arms with a circumference of 8 ¾ to 16 ½ inches.
The device is powered by 4 AAA batteries and is very easy to use. Just fit the cuff around your upper arm and press the Start/Stop button. In a few moments, the results will be displayed on the easy-to-view screen.
This blood pressure monitor has a dual user functionality, so both you and your partner can keep a log of your readings simultaneously – all you need to do is to flip the button to the user of your choice and proceed with the measuring.
The memory of this useful device can store up to 250 of your individual readings, along with the date, average, and time, so for both users, this is 500 readings in total. This is especially useful if your doctor wants to see your measurement log at your next appointment.
In case an irregular heart rate is detected, the device will alert you immediately, so you can take timely measures.
The blood pressure monitor comes with a detailed user’s manual and is sold with a 2-year unconditional warranty.
And our other top favorite heart rate monitors for 2021 are:
- Made of comfortable materials which will fit your chest well and won’t cause chafing even during intensive running or workouts
- It supports advanced heart rate features and heart rate variability
- It features 2.4GHz ANT wireless connectivity
- It is 5 ATM waterproof, so you can wear it while swimming or exercising in the rain.
- It features 6 different running dynamics measurements, including cadence, ground contact time, vertical oscillation, ground contact time balance, vertical ratio, and stride length.
- The cadence monitor will inform you of the number of steps you make per minute.
- The vertical oscillation is the bounce degree during running
- The ground contact time is measured in milliseconds and is the measurement of the amount of time each foot spends on the ground
- The ground contact time balance will inform you of the balance between your left and right foot in percentages
- The stride length is measured in meters
- The vertical ratio is the ratio of the vertical oscillation to the length of your strides.
- The length of the strap can be adjusted from 23.5 inches to 56 inches
- The dimensions of the strap are 23.5 – 56 (L) x 1.2 (W) x 0.5 (D) inches
- It weighs 1.7 oz.
- It uses a CR2032 battery with a battery life of about 1 year
- Designed specifically for triathletes
- Its size is 60-142 x 3.0 x 1.2 cm and it weighs 2.1 oz.
- The dimensions of the heart rate module are just 29.4 x 51.4 x 8.5mm
- The strap is easy to adjust and very comfortable on the skin and can be worn under swimsuits
- It will measure and forward your heart rate for storage in a compatible device
- It works with a CR2032 battery with a battery life of 10 months when training once per day
- ANT+ heart rate monitor, heart rate variability, and advanced heart rate features
- The device will measure and log your heart rate even when you are swimming
- It can store up to 20 hours of heart rate tracking logs when you are swimming
- Compatible with just about any Gamin fitness tracker and smartwatch
- It measures a number of other running statistics so you can analyze the data and improve your performance
- Has a built-in accelerometer
- It can be paired with a Bluetooth or ANT+ chest strap for even more accurate readings.
- Impressive 25-hour battery life when the GPS is on
- Features a gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, barometric altimeter, and location services via GPS, and BDS and GLONASS satellites
- Waterproof for depths of down to 50 ft.
- Excellent for running, swimming, cycling, or all other physical activities
- You can receive and control all kinds of notifications from your paired smartphone, including calls, messages, emails, social media alerts, and others
- Accurate elevation readings
- A comfortable and durable strap
- You can use the Coros app to customize the metrics on the screen and also to analyze the stored data after a workout.
- It has a beautiful design and a large color touchscreen display
- It combines optical sensors with bio-impedance electrodes, which penetrate the skin more in-depth for an even more accurate heart rate reading
- Ultra-long battery life, which can reach 40 hours of training and wear even with the GPS turned on
- The Running power function will give you a detailed analysis of the intensity of your running
- The Recovery pro function will provide you with useful feedback on how your recovery is going
- The Training load pro will keep you informed on how the exercise is straining the different parts of your body
- You can choose one of the 130 sport modes available for the device
- The mobile app is available for iOS and Android
- You can switch on the voice guide to keep you informed about your progress
- You can share your progress and activity on social media via the app
- You get to choose from three amazing color choices
- It is waterproof
- The watch is compatible with Strava, TrainingPeaks, and of course with Polar Flow
Withings, which is now owned by Nokia, has produced this fantastic Steel HR smartwatch, which happens to have an excellent heart rate monitor, among all the other useful features.
- Thanks to the stylish analog-like style, it doesn’t look like most other smartwatches, so you can wear it to work or with formal wear.
- It will measure and store your heart rate readings day and night and will provide you with in-depth detailed reports.
- The smart wearable device will assess your cardiovascular capacity and the heart rate zones based on V02 (maximum oxygen consumption) estimation, which is very useful for runners.
- You can connect the GPS to map your runs or other workout sessions, including pace, distance, and elevation.
- It is water-resistant to a depth of 50m
- The case is made of durable stainless steel.
- It will track and analyze your sleep, including the deep and light sleep cycles, the number and time of any interruptions, the regularity, the quality and depth of your sleep, and you can also set a vibrating silent alarm so you don’t disturb others when you have to wake up.
- The battery will last up to 25 days per charge.
- You can receive all types of notifications from your smartphone directly on the screen of the watch.
- It has an option of choosing one of 30 sports to track
- Bluetooth connectivity to pair with your smartphone
- A useful Withings Health Mate app will allow you to customize the smartwatch as you like
The Polar H10 is a comfortable, reasonably priced, and very accurate heart rate measuring chest strap, which is one of the finest we have tested in 2021.
- The device relies on an ECG-style sensor with added interference preventing electrodes for very accurate real-time heart rate reading.
- The strap has a built-in memory to store your heart rate readings
- It has updateable firmware so you can get the latest tweaks and improved features
- The battery is easy to replace and has a life of up to 400 hours
- The unique strap design provides extra comfort and will stay secure on your chest even during intensive exercising
- It is fully waterproof and can store your heart rate readings during swimming
- The strap is available in different sizes – this one is the largest XXXL size
- Compatible with most smart devices and fitness trackers
Features to look for when buying a heart rate monitor
The type of device
You should first pick the type of heart rate monitor which will suit your needs. You can get a wearable heart rate monitor if you want to track and log your heart rate readings and get alerts if something worrying is going on with your pulse. On the other hand, you can pick a traditional heart rate monitor that you can use in the comfort of your home and which, too, will log your readings and notify you if your heart rate is too slow or too fast.
Optical vs. ECG monitors
The electric heart rate sensors will measure the electric signals which control how your heart expands and contracts. The optical heart rate sensors will shine a special LED light through your skin and then will record any changes in the blood flow. Many of our top picks, which have optical sensors, have additional electrodes and devices which ensure that the sensor is properly positioned and that it reaches deeper under the skin for more accurate readings.
ECG and Heart rate variability
As you can see from our top 10 list of heart rate monitors in 2021, some will measure your HRV, which means measuring the millisecond deviations of your heartbeat, which is amazingly useful for balancing your training, resting, work, and family life properly.
The devices which offer an ECG function, like the Apple Watch 4, can actually be life-saving devices, as they can detect the early signs of serious and even fatal conditions like Atrial fibrillation or other irregularities in the heart rate, which may require immediate care and attention.
Choose a heart rate monitor that can connect to the device you already have and intend to use for tracking, storing, and analyzing your heart rate readings and logs. This can be your smartphone, a smartwatch, a chest strap, or any fitness tracking device. Make sure that the heart rate monitor of your choice has the proper connectivity options in order to be able to take advantage of all of its functions.
Finding a reliable heart rate monitor is essential both for athletes and for all other people. Keeping an eye on your heart rate will help you improve your performance when training and recovering and will also keep you informed about your current heart health and alert you if there is something wrong with your heart rate.
Hopefully, you have found that perfect heart rate monitor for your needs in our top 10 list.
We wish you good luck with your new device and sincerely believe that it will serve the purpose you are buying it for!
Last update on 2022-05-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API