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- Best overall: Fitbit Versa 2
- Best for people with heart problems: Garmin Vivosmart 4
- Best for runners: Garmin Forerunner 45S
- Best for cyclists: Suunto 9 GPS Sports Watch
- Best budget watch: Willful Smart Watch
- Best for older adults: Fossil Gen 5 Garrett Touchscreen Smartwatch
A convenient feature of many smartwatches is their heart rate monitor.
You may want to check your heart rate regularly for a variety of reasons, from improving your athletic performance to managing your stress levels to tracking your heart health.
It’s important to note that watch-style heart rate monitors aren’t medical devices and may not always be accurate, especially during exercise or if they don’t fit well (
Regardless, the sheer number of smartwatches — all with different features and price points — can be confounding. Healthline assembled this list based on the following criteria:
- Functionality: measures heart rate and offers other valuable features
- Reviews: boasts mostly positive customer reviews
- Suitability for specific needs: adaptable for certain populations, such as athletes or people with heart problems
Here are the 6 best heart rate monitor watches of 2021.
The Fitbit Versa 2 tops this list due to its overwhelmingly positive reviews and variety of features, including continuous, 24/7 heart rate tracking that’s displayed directly on the home screen of the watch.
Additionally, you can use the Fitbit app to view historical reports and your heart rate trends over time.
Price-wise, it’s a good middle-of-the-line option.
The Versa 2 also uses music apps like Pandora and Spotify, syncs with your phone when it’s nearby, and tracks calories burned, steps, and sleep metrics.
Best for people with heart problems
The Garmin Vivosmart 4 is a good choice for people with heart issues, as it not only estimates your heart rate but also your oxygen saturation levels — or how much oxygen is getting to your tissues (
For people with heart or lung ailments, measuring oxygen saturation regularly serves as an early warning system. If your levels are dropping, you can take steps to correct the situation or seek medical attention before it becomes too severe (
This measurement may also help you assess whether your current medical treatments are working.
Plus, this watch features a stress monitor and offers guided breathing exercises for high stress moments. In addition, it receives notifications from your phone and includes a sleep and activity tracker.
Best for runners
The Garmin Forerunner 45S is geared toward runners, boasting GPS capabilities, coaching plans, an activity tracker, and even safety features if you get into an accident — all in addition to heart rate tracking.
The Forerunner 45S also connects to your phone to receive notifications and control your music player.
Best for cyclists
The Suunto 9 GPS Sports Watch is a high-end sports watch designed for the needs of long-distance cyclists and other endurance athletes. It features robust GPS capabilities, including weather forecasts and navigation features.
In addition, the watch tracks heart rate, sleep data, and various activity metrics. Its battery life lasts up to 120 hours on a single charge.
Best budget watch
Hundreds of budget fitness watches cost under $50, but this one stands out because of its quality and numerous positive reviews.
In addition to heart rate monitoring, it offers sleep and activity tracking, phone notifications, and reminders to move regularly. The watch is also waterproof and safe to swim in, although it doesn’t track swimming metrics.
Best for older adults
The watches in the Fossil Gen 5 series feature large, high resolution touchscreens and a variety of traditional-looking watchbands made from materials like leather and stainless steel rather than the standard silicon smartwatch bands.
In addition to heart rate monitoring, this watch includes a sleep and activity tracker, built-in GPS, and energy-saving mode that greatly extends its battery life.
These features not only make it ideal for older adults but also anyone seeking an easy-to-operate watch with a more classic design.
With so many options available, it can be daunting to choose a reliable heart rate monitor watch.
Healthline’s top pick features 24/7 heart rate monitoring, which tracks your heart health over time and always displays your current heart rate, whether resting or exercising. Furthermore, it shows your metrics on the main screen so that you don’t have to navigate elsewhere.
Still, you may want to consider other factors like cost, customer reviews, and features.
Note that very few smartwatches only measure your heart rate. Most connect to your phone, and many offer features for athletes — like GPS and activity tracking — or people with heart or lung problems, such as blood pressure and oxygen saturation monitoring.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for the most accurate heart rate readings possible — for example, to help manage your heart condition — consider a chest monitor. This device straps around your chest and is much more precise than a smartwatch (
There are heart rate monitor watches on the market to fit every budget and need.
You should not only consider the price but also the reviews and functions when deciding which one to buy. The options in this article are an excellent place to start.
However, if your main priority is the accuracy of your heart rate reading, look into a chest strap monitor.