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I'm a runner. I've been using a Garmin with GPS to track my runs, which I enjoy. I have issues with the chest strap, though. (Not just Garmin's.) I find chest straps to be very uncomfortable to wear; they get stuck under the band of my bra and chafe, or they twist, or they slip. It doesn't matter how well-adjusted it is, I just don't like them.

I've tried the FitBit and a few other gadgets, but they estimate calorie burn based on weight and age.

Is there such a thing as an accurate heart rate monitor that doesn't use a chest strap? I know there are some watches that have sensors that sit against your wrist pulse. Are these anywhere close to accurate?

Note that I'm not looking for continuous monitoring; I only want an HRM to use during exercise.

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Check out dcrainmaker.com He reviews all kinds of tech, among those HR monitors wo straps. –  FredrikD Apr 9 at 16:33
    
Thanks! I've read his blog before, but hadn't been back in a while. The optical sensor technology looks promising. –  EmmyS Apr 14 at 21:46

3 Answers 3

There is relatively new technology, which others have linked to, called optical heart rate monitoring. Examples of products that use it include:

And a few others. Based on the customer reviews from the early adopters of these devices, and the product testing that the device manufacturers say about the limitations of the devices, here's a quick summary:

  • When they are working, they are every bit as accurate as the generic strap HRM.
  • They typically work best when there is no wrist rotation, i.e. best for running.
  • Activities that will have problems include weightlifting, swimming, and possibly cycling (particularly if you change how you grip the handlebars).
  • The technology is still very new, so they are working on addressing those limitations.

I've got my eye on these devices, as it's difficult to keep from hitting your chest with certain movements in the weight room. Unfortunately for me, the technology isn't ready for what I do. Fortunately for you, it should handle running quite well.

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You might also want to look into the Mio Alpha. It is like the Mio Link, but with a display, so you can lookup your heart rate easily while you are running. The Mio Link does not have a display and you'd like this one if you want to analyse your heartrate afterwards, but not during your run. For myself, I am waiting for the Apple iWatch that could also have a heartrate sensor included with all other smartwatch perks I'd like to use (runkeeper synchronisation, messages, phone calls, music control etc.). –  AutomatedChaos Jul 21 at 6:57
    
It's looking like with the second generation of the technology that the fit problems plaguing sports with wrist rotation are greatly improved. Many of the HRM watches are using Mio's sensors. –  Berin Loritsch Jul 21 at 12:29

I'm using one called Mio Link, and I'm liking it a lot. It's new tech, so I've kept my Polar Beat handy in case I have issues, but so far so good.

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Hi and welcome to fitness.se. To improve your answer, you might want to provide reasons for why you think Mio Link provides what the OP requests. What makes you think it's accurate, how long are you using it etc. –  LarissaGodzilla May 6 at 15:31

If you are a true sports enthusiast and you require accurate results, I recommend you to consider the Adidas miCoach Seamless Sports Bra, it has an in built strap and hence wont be uncomfortable. The two buttons in front on the outside is where the miCoach HRM can be attached. This HRM supports Ant+ and hence can be used with various devices including Suunto, Garmin, etc Here is a reference link: http://shop.numetrex.com/product/adidas-micoach-seamless-sports-bra/

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Thanks, but that kind of sports bra doesn't work (or even fit) those of us with larger than average chests. –  EmmyS May 21 at 17:47

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