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A convenient feature of many smartwatches is a 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 (1).

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. We included watches that measure heart rate while offering other valuable features, such as sleep or fitness tracking.
  • Reviews. The watches on this list have mostly positive customer reviews.
  • Suitability for specific needs. We considered watches that are specifically designed for certain populations, such as athletes or people with heart problems.
  • Vetting. All the products included have been vetted to ensure that they meet Healthline’s medical and business standards.

Here are the 7 best heart rate monitor watches of 2021.

Best overall

Fitbit Versa 3

Price: $$

The Fitbit Versa 3 tops this list due to its overwhelmingly positive reviews and variety of features, including 24/7 heart rate tracking that’s displayed directly on its home screen.

Additionally, you can use the Fitbit app to view historical reports and your trends over time.

Plus, price-wise, it’s a good middle-of-the-line option.

The Versa 3 also uses music apps like Pandora and Spotify, syncs with your phone, and tracks your calories burned, steps, and sleep metrics.

What’s more, the watch is waterproof up to 164 feet (50 meters), and the battery lasts up to 6 days, though it will drain faster if you’re using GPS or enable the “always on” display.

Best for people with heart problems

Garmin Vivosmart 4

Price: $$

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 (2).

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 (2).

This measurement may also help you assess whether your current medical treatments are working.

Additionally, the device tracks your heart rate continuously throughout the day, as well as heart rate variability (HRV), which can be an indicator of stress.

The Garmin Vivosmart 4 likewise features a stress monitor and offers guided breathing exercises for high stress moments.

Like other options on this list, the watch can be used to keep tabs on your sleep and activity levels, as well as pair with your smartphone to receive notifications.

The Vivosmart 4 has a battery life of up to 5 days, and it’s water-resistant up to 164 feet (50 meters).

Best for runners

Garmin Forerunner 45S

Price: $$

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 continuous heart rate tracking on your wrist.

It also alerts you if your heart rate appears to be too low or too high while at rest.

As a bonus, it’s a smaller, lightweight watch that’s designed to feel comfortable during long runs.

The Forerunner 45S connects to your phone, allowing you to receive notifications and control your music. It also has a waterproof rating of up to 164 feet (50 meters), so you can even swim in it.

According to the company, the watch has a battery life of up to 7 days with regular use. However, if you use the Forerunner 45 S with continuous GPS, you’ll likely have to charge the device after 10.5 hours.

Best for cyclists

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2

Price: $$$

Samsung Active 2 integrates seamlessly with Strava — a popular tracking app for cyclists — making it a good choice if you prefer to stay active on a bike.

The Active 2 continuously displays your heart rate and will notify you if it detects a heart rate that’s too low or too high.

One distinguishing feature is that it has LTE connectivity, meaning it functions as a smartphone if you have an Android device.

The watch is also lightweight and water-resistant up to 164 feet (50 meters), making it a good option if you train for triathlons.

The battery life lasts about 2.5 days, though it will be less with continuous workout monitoring or “always on” display enabled.

Best budget watch

Willful Smart Watch

Price: $

Hundreds of budget fitness watches cost under $50, but this one stands out due to its quality, sleek design, and numerous positive reviews.

In addition to 24/7 heart rate monitoring, the Willful Smart Watch offers sleep and activity tracking, phone notifications, menstrual cycle tracking, and reminders to move regularly.

The device is also waterproof and safe to swim in, though it doesn’t track swimming metrics.

Many reviewers comment on the excellent battery life, with one customer noting that after approximately 2 days of regular use, the battery charge was still at 60%.

Best for older adults

Omron HeartGuide

Price: $$$

The Omron HeartGuide is one of the few smartwatches on the market to track blood pressure. In fact, it’s one of the first to receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a blood-pressure-tracking tool.

Plus, the watch tracks your heart rate and displays your data in easy-to-read graphs on the accompanying app, making it a great option for older adults or those who are concerned with their overall heart health.

In addition to continuous heart rate monitoring, the Omron HeartGuide includes sleep and activity trackers.

While it’s designed for those with heart concerns, the Omron HeartGuide is easy to use, making it ideal if you’re seeking a heart rate watch that’s simple to use and features a more classic design.

The battery life is said to last 2–3 days with regular use. Just keep in mind that the Omron HeartGuide isn’t water-resistant and shouldn’t be worn in the pool, shower, or while washing dishes.

Best for general health

Fitbit Sense

Price: $$$

The Fitbit Sense is one of the latest models from FitBit, offering plenty of high tech features, including continuous, real-time heart rate tracking throughout the day and an electrocardiogram (ECG) scanner.

By holding opposite corners of the watch, the Sense can take a quick ECG scan, which may help detect early signs of a serious health condition known as atrial fibrillation (AFib)

In addition to heart rate monitoring, the watch boasts an impressive lineup of tracking metrics, including distance, calories burned, pace, body temperature during sleep, sleep quality, menstrual cycle, food and water intake, and more.

Unlike other Fitbit models, the Sense has a built-in electrodermal activity (EDA) scan, which is used as a stress-management tool.

The watch pairs with the Fitbit app on your phone to provide detailed health information. You can also subscribe to the company’s premium version of the app, which makes it easy to track your health stats over time.

Fitbit Premium is free for the first 6 months and increases to $9.99 per month thereafter.

The Sense’s battery lasts up to 6 days (or 12 hours using GPS), and it has a waterproof rating of up to 164 feet (50 meters).

Here’s a quick look at how our top picks compare:

Fitbit Versa 3Garmin Vivosmart 4Garmin Forerunner 45SSamsung Galaxy WatchWillful Smart WatchOmron HeartGuideFitbit Sense
Price (MSRP)$229.95$99.99$199.99$299.99$39.99$499$299.95
Battery lifeup to 6 daysup to 5 daysup to 7 daysup to 3 daysup to 7 days2 to 3 daysup to 6 days
Waterproof ratingup to 164 feet (50 meters)up to 164 feet (50 meters)up to 164 feet (50 meters)up to 164 feet (50 meters)up to 164 feet (50 meters)not water-resistantup to 164 feet (50 meters)
Primary metrics tracked
• heart rate
• sleep
• steps
• space
• distance
• calories burned
• heart rate
• oxygen saturation
• steps
• calories
• distance
• heart rate
• pace
• distance
• intervals
• calories
• heart rate
• pace
• distance
• calories
• sleep
• heart rate
• menstrual cycle
• sleep
• heart rate
• blood pressure
• sleep
• activity
• heart rate
• heart rate variability
• stress
• sleep
• calories
• menstrual cycle
• activity
Notable features• GPS
• voice assistant
• phone notifications
• connects with Spotify/Pandora
• stress monitoring
• phone notifications
• relaxation breathing timer
• GPS
• incident detection
• music control
• LTE capabilities
• phone notifications
• voice assistant
• phone notifications
• music control
• phone notifications• EDA scan
• ECG scan
• phone notification
• music control
• GPS

With so many options available, it can be daunting to choose a reliable heart rate monitor watch.

The Fitbit Versa is our top pick, as it features 24/7 heart rate monitoring, which tracks your heart health over time and always displays your current heart rate, whether you’re 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, such as 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 (1, 3).

There are heart rate monitor watches on the market to fit every budget and need.

In addition to price, you’ll want to factor in the available features, battery life, and customer reviews.

While the options in this article are an excellent place to start, if your main priority is the accuracy of your heart rate reading, you may want to consider a chest strap monitor instead.

Regardless of which device you choose, always make sure to alert your healthcare professional to any concerns you may have about your heart rate data.