The 8 Best Heart Rate Monitor Watches to Buy in 2018

Stay on track of your fitness goals with these top-picks

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Your heart rate can help make sure you are on your way to achieving your fitness goals. By monitoring this metric you can ensure that your target heart rate zones are in line with what you want to accomplish. One of the easiest ways to keep track of this is with a heart rate monitor watch. These devices will continuously track your heart rate throughout the day without any manual calculations and will help you see how your workouts change day-to-day, week-to-week, and more.

Finding the right heart rate monitor watch can be tough. Some can be quite costly while others might have too many bells and whistles to help you get what you really need. Here are the top heart rate monitor watches for every type of budget and need. 

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Fitbit Charge 3 Heart Rate & Fitness Wristband

Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate & Fitness Wristband

Courtesy of Amazon

Ever since the first Fitbit was released in 2013, the brand has become synonymous with fitness tracking. Although the first few models were pricey and considered a status symbol among tech aficionados, the brand now has offerings that marry the watch’s reliable heart rate and fitness monitoring with affordability—and their newest Charge 3 model is no exception.

The Charge 3 builds off of the Charge 2’s runaway popularity. Its display automatically shows your current heart rate with a single tap, and it has 24/7 heart rate tracking so you never miss a beat. You can also choose from more than 15 exercise modes to get an accurate idea of how hard your heart works during different workouts,

Reviewers on Amazon love the Charge 2’s accurate heart rate monitor and flawless integration with the Fitbit app—you’ll be getting all of the Charge 2’s award-winning features and more with their latest Charge 3.

Best Budget: Akuti Activity Waterproof Wristband Pedometer

Akuti Activity Waterproof Wristband Pedometer

Courtesy of Amazon

Smart watches have skyrocketed in popularity, but you don’t need to pay hundreds of dollars for high-end models to reap the benefits of monitoring your heartbeat. Akuti’s slim option continuously monitors your heart rate for a bird’s eye view of your cardiac health, without the heart-stopping price tag of competitors.

For less than $30, this wristband tracks your heart rate at all times and displays it on a large, easy-to-read screen. It syncs additional information like steps walked, distance traveled, and estimated calories burned to the accompanying app. The watch is also waterproof, so you can even track your heart rate in the shower.

Reviewers loved this watch’s quick charge and user-friendly interface. Several reviewers noted that this option was affordable enough to buy one for each member of their family.

Best for Running: Polar GPS Running Watch

Whether you’re lacing up your first pair of running shoes to get in shape or training for your umpteenth marathon, a smartwatch that tracks your heart rate while you run can help you stay in your ideal cardiac zone for peak fitness. The Polar GPS Running Watch takes you from resting heart rate to recovery in one smart package.

This watch uses both indoor and outdoor metrics to showcase your heart’s performance while you run. A five-minute aerobic fitness test shows you your baseline performance, your running index (a number calculated using your heart rate and speed) tracks your fitness development, and stats on your training load show you how long it takes your heart and the rest of your body to recover from a good run.

Sprinters and marathon runners alike praised this watch’s ability to sync their heart rate to their phones while running without missing a beat and said the straightforward interface made it easy to get up and start moving.

Best Waterproof: Apple Watch 4

Swimming is an excellent activity for anyone looking for a low-impact, high-intensity workout that builds cardiovascular fitness. Tracking your heart rate underwater used to be a pipe dream, but Apple’s waterproof heart rate monitor watch helps you track your heart health progress without worrying about chlorine ruining your investment.

The Apple Watch is known for being the big kahuna of the smartwatch market, but it’s also one of the only watches with a reliable heart rate monitor that works in a pool. The 4 Series is water-resistant for up to 50 meters, and if any water creeps inside you can eject it with a turn of the watch’s Digital Crown.

Apple Watch enthusiasts appreciated the Series 3’s detailed breakdown of their cardiac and overall fitness after they got out of the pool. The 4 series has the same water-resistant stats, with even more features that add up to a heart-pumping swim session.

Best for Triathletes: Garmin Forerunner 935

Triathlons are some of the most difficult races to complete—the triple threat of swimming, biking, and running give even the most seasoned athletes a run for their money. All three sports are superb for your heart health, but monitoring your heart rate as you train is vital for keeping your body in an optimal training zone. Garmin’s Forerunner series has the chops to track your heart rate on land or sea.

The Forerunner 935 has built-in activity profiles for all three sports in the triathlon crown, and you can switch gears with the touch of a button. The watch monitors your overall training stats, recovery time, and other performance indicators so you know exactly what to work on.

People who bought the Forerunner on Amazon loved the watch’s accurate heart rate readings during triathlons and said that personalization options for the display made it easier to access the info that was most important to them.

Best with GPS: Fitbit Iconic GPS Smart Watch

Runners, swimmers, and outdoor bikers need to monitor their heart rate during exercise to attain peak conditioning, but other stats, like tracking your distance, can tell you a lot about how you’re progressing. A heart rate monitor watch with GPS will take care of both metrics for you, and Fitbit’s Iconic watch is the perfect choice for workouts on the move.

Fitbit’s been in the fitness tracking game for years, but their new Iconic model is leaps and bounds better than previous options. Their PurePulse technology takes care of continuously tracking your heart rate, while built-in GPS tracks your pace, distance, and preferred routes.

Fitbit users on Amazon love the Iconic’s improved battery life, which helped them track heart rate and distance over multiple workouts, and the bright, easy-to-read display.

Best for Monitoring Blood Pressure: DoSmarter Fitness Tracker

Keeping tabs on your heart rate is essential for your cardiac health, but it won’t give you the full picture. Blood pressure readings can give you (and your doctor) a better understanding of what’s going on, but breaking out a cuff every few hours to check on it isn’t feasible for most people. DoSmarter’s heart rate monitor watch tracks your heart rate as well as your blood pressure.

This fitness tracker uses the latest optical sensors to get heart rate and blood pressure readings throughout your day. It automatically tests your blood pressure every hour, and the customizable interface on the accompanying app gives you a great overall picture of your blood pressure fluctuations.

DoSmarter users on Amazon loved that the watch’s heart rate and blood pressure readings were consistent with their home cuff monitors and doctor’s office results, and found the watch’s ability to measure BP without connecting to their phone especially useful.

Best for Sleep: Fitbit Alta HR

Monitoring your heart rate while you sleep is just as important as monitoring it during activity—your resting heart rate can tell you if you’re at risk for certain metabolic or cardiac issues, and it’s also necessary for determining fat burning and peak heart rate benchmarks during your workout. The Fitbit Alta HR tracks your heart rate while you sleep, giving you greater insight into your heart health.

Many smartwatches offer sleep tracking, but Fitbit’s Alta slim design makes it more comfortable to wear when you’re dozing off. Your heart rate during sleep helps the watch determine which sleep stage you’re in, which clues you into your overall sleep quality. If you discover you’re struggling at night, you can use behavioral methods to improve your sleep and avoid troubling symptoms of sleep deprivation during your day.

Alta users on Amazon loved how the watch used their heart rate to determine their sleep stages, saying that the data was a huge eye-opener in terms of how hard their hearts were working while they slept.

Our Process

Our writers spent 5 hours researching the most popular heart rate monitor watches on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 14 different watches overall, screened options from 9 different brands and manufacturers, read over 19 user reviews (both positive and negative), and tested 1 of the watches themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.

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