Fitness Bands That Track Your Heart Rate

Stay on top of your beats per minute with these wrist-worn gadgets

Samsung Fitness bands

If you're looking to find the best activity tracker for you, you have plenty of factors to consider. There's price (there are sub-$100 options as well as plenty that top $200), form factor (wrist-worn or clip-on, for example) and, of course, feature set. Depending on your fitness goals and your tolerance for poring through activity stats, you'll want to adjust your search to include only the devices that meet your criteria.

If you do happen to love all the stats you can get, a fitness tracker that monitors more advanced metrics such as heart rate could be a good choice for you. Keep reading for a look at the top activity trackers that include this functionality, along with a look at why you might want this feature.

Why Monitor Your Heart Rate?

Before we dive into the list of top fitness wearables that include heart rate monitoring, let's address the question of why you'd want to have this functionality in the first place. Well, for one thing, knowing your heart rate mid-workout can provide some indication of whether you're exerting yourself enough to actually reap the benefits of physical activity. You've probably heard the term "target heart rate," and this refers to the ideal zone you should work toward when you're engaging in cardio.

And if you're wondering how, exactly, to calculate your target heart rate, consider this tip from Johns Hopkins Medicine: Take your age and subtract it from 220. This gives you your maximum heart rate. So, for a 30-year-old, the maximum heart rate would be 190. Since target heart rate is usually considered somewhere between 50 and 85 percent of your max heat rate, you'd also want to calculate your target heart rates at those different exertion levels. So, using the same example with a 30-year-old, at a 50-percent exertion level the target heart rate would be 95 beats per minute, while at an 85-percent exertion level the target rate would be about 162 beats per minute. If you're 30 years old, you'd want to aim for a heart rate between 95 and 162 beats per minute to ensure you're getting a good workout.

Also, keep in mind that the accuracy of the heart rate monitors on these devices may vary, so if you really care about knowing the real numbers, you might want to get a chest strap heart rate monitor instead. There are varying reports about the accuracy of optical/wrist-based heart rate monitors compared to chest strap versions, but the latter type is closer to your heart. Just something to consider as you're shopping for fitness gadgets and assessing the features you want in an activity tracker.

So, to sum things up simply, knowing your heart rate can provide some indication of how hard you're working, which may or may not be of interest to you depending on your fitness goals. This is by no means a comprehensive explanation of heart rate monitoring, but it should at least give you an idea of whether or not this feature is worth looking for when you comparison-shop for fitness trackers.

The Top Activity Trackers With Built-In Heart Rate Monitoring

With that out of the way, let's take a look at some of the top picks. Keep in mind that this is by no means a comprehensive list — there are plenty of other options out there that aren't highlighted below. However, these wearables could be worth considering if you'd like a device with a heart rate monitor, as they also include other strong features.

Garmin vivosmart HR ($130)

Garmin has so many devices with heart rate monitoring that it's hard to know where to start, but this activity tracker could be worth a look if you're on the market for a fitness band with some smartwatch-style features.

An image of the vívosmart® HR heart rate-tracking fitness band.

In addition to offering 24/7 heart rate measurements taken at the wrist, the Garmin vivosmart HR uses the info on your beats per minute to provide info on how many calories you've burned and a rating of the intensity of your different activities. If you also have a more specialized sports wearable for running or another exercise (but that doesn't have built-in heart rate monitoring), you can also use the vivosmart HR as a "heart rate strap" when it's paired with your other compatible Garmin wearable. Apart from the fitness-focused features, this strap will display incoming notifications for texts, calls, emails and more on its display, provided the vivosmart HR is paired with a compatible smartphone.

Fitbit Charge 2 ($149.95 and up)

This product is an update of the company's Fitbit Charge HR device (which also included heart rate monitoring), and it packs new features such as guided breathing "sessions" to help you relax, plus a "cardio fitness level" indicator that compares you with others of the same age and gender.

An image fo the Fitbit Charge 2 which has heart rate monitoring capabilities.

As for the heart rate monitoring, it comes courtesy of the PurePulse system, which continuously takes wrist-based measurements of your beats per minute and shows you where your measurement falls within a variety of heart rate zones, such as Peak, Cardio and Fat Burn. The Charge 2 also tracks your resting heart rate, so you get a more complete picture of how this number fluctuates throughout the day and based on your activity levels.

Mio Fuse ($50 on Amazon)

If you want to stay south of $100, this could be a worthwhile option. The Mio Fuse doesn't match the smartwatch-style capabilities or large feature sets of other products on this list, but it does offer wrist-based heart rate monitoring in addition to tracking steps, calories burned, distance traveled and more.

An image of the Mio Fuse fitness band with heart rate monitoring.

The design is not exactly high-end, but the band does include LED lights that indicate your heart rate zone, which could come in handy mid-workout. You can also configure heart rate zones if you're targeting a specific number of beats per minute.

Fitbit Surge ($249.95)

Another Fitbit — but this one's complete with even more bells and whistles. In addition to offering heart rate monitoring, the Fitbit Surge features GPS tracking for logging info such as distance, run time, pace and elevation stats, and the ability to review your route post-workout.

The Fitbit Surge, with heart rate monitoring, with a coral colored band.

This functionality will matter most to serious runners, but this fitness tracker also logs activity stats for other sports such as cycling. And while it's not a full-fledged smartwatch, the Surge does display incoming call and text notifications on its screen, and you can control songs from your mobile playlist when you have the wearable paired with your smartphone.

Samsung Galaxy Fit ($99.99)

The recently released Samsung Galaxy Fit is a really interesting fitness band, especially when you compare it to the company's previous wearable efforts. To be clear: This isn’t a smartwatch, this is a fitness band, a fact that is readily apparent upon looking at its construction, style, and price point. In true fitness band fashion, you’ll get adaptive activity tracking and heart rate monitoring as well. Also folded into Samsung’s wellness monitoring suite are features like sleep tracking and even a caffeine log. 

Samsung Galaxy Fit 2019

Some will suggest the Fitbit devices will offer better heart rate tracking, and while they're (mostly) right, the Galaxy Fit does cater best to those already invested in the Samsung ecosystem. Not only will it seamlessly connect to all modern Galaxy smartphones, but it leverages a super bright 120x240-pixel AMOLED display, too. Samsung, being the industry leader it is, couldn't settle for less than overkill. Add to that its claims of up to a one-week battery life, and this really is a heavy hitter in the fitness band space, even if its heart monitoring tech leaves something to be desired.