Wristband Heart Rate Monitors vs. Chest-Strap Monitors – Is One Better?


Trying to decide between a wristband heart rate monitor and a chest-strap heart rate monitor? Read more to find which one will fit your lifestyle best.

When it comes to monitoring your heart, you have a couple options available: more traditional chest-strap heart rate monitors and wristband heart rate monitors. What works for one person may not work for another, so here are the things you need to know about each:

From the Apple Watch to the Fitbit, smartwatches do more than just tell time. In addition to reading text messages, taking calls, and checking the time, many smartwatches also offer heart monitoring. They do this by emitting light into your skin to measure blood flow. But after reports of inaccuracy by Fitbit users, it’s easy to question if these monitors really work.

  • Accuracy
    Wristband heart monitors have been getting a bad rap when it comes to accuracy. For monitoring heart rate during moderate to demanding exercise, a chest-strap monitor can get a better read. But in almost all other cases, wristband monitors perform just as well for everyday heart monitoring.
  • Comfort
    Compared to bulky and often uncomfortable chest-strap heart monitors, wristband heart monitors are much more comfortable. With a wristband, you don’t have to worry about an elastic strap chaffing or sliding around underneath your clothes.
  • For the fashion conscious
    Wristband heart rate monitors look like a typical smartwatch. If you’re hesitant to wear a heart monitor because you’re worried how it will look, a wristband is the way to go.

Chest-strap heart monitors use electrical signals to monitor your heart. They’re worn just as their name implies: around the chest near the heart.

  • Accuracy
    As far as exercise goes, if you’re looking for a heart monitor to keep tabs on your heart during a long run or a high-impact workout, chest straps are the way to go. Sweat and jostling don’t interfere with the chest-strap as much as it does a wristband, so they’re more effective during moderate to intense exercise. For everyday wear, however, wristband monitors do just as well.
  • Comfort
    Chest-strap monitors aren’t known for their high comfort levels. They’re made of a stretchy, elastic band that can chafe, slip around, and interfere with undergarments.
  • For the fashion conscious
    Not only do chest-strap monitors chafe, they also have a bulky profile that shows up under clothing. Often, they must also be worn in conjunction with a wristband, so instead of wearing one piece of equipment, you end up wearing both a chest-strap and a wristband.

The Verdict?
It all comes down to purpose. If you need a heart monitor for intense exercise, you’ll want a chest-strap. They tend to be more accurate during high-impact activities. If you’re looking for a way to monitor your heart all day long, a wristband is more comfortable and just as accurate for a walk with the dog or a trip to the grocery store.