How Does a Smartwatch Measure Heart Rate?

Have you ever wondered how does a smartwatch measures heart rate? People have used different means to measure the heart rate for days.

Some had to use a stethoscope, some of them use their ears but most lately, technology is advanced and heartbeat sensors are being used.

People are using it either because they are athletes or want to keep a track of their health. If you’ve bought a smartwatch and wondered how the heart rate monitor works, read on.

What is Heart Rate?

Your heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute. It’s a bit like the beat of a song – the higher the number, the more often your heart beats. Your pulse is your heart rate over a short time period – usually one minute.

Your resting heart rate (RHR) is how fast your heart beats when you’re at rest. This can vary from person to person, but it’s often between 60 and 100 bpm.

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It may increase with physical activity or stress. An average heart rate for a child ranges from 120 to 160 beats per minute, and for an adult ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute.

Your heart beats the whole time, but when you run or exercise, the demand for blood and oxygen increases and so does your heart rate.

Heart Rate Monitoring is a Great Indication of Fitness

Heart rate monitoring is a great indication of fitness. It is used to measure your level of exertion and the effectiveness of your workout. It can also provide valuable feedback on your risk of developing heart disease.

By keeping an eye on your heart rate throughout a workout, you can tailor the intensity of each exercise to reach the desired heart rate for that exercise.

heart rate importance

For example, if you’re doing a cardio workout, you may want to increase the resistance of your rowing machine until your heart reaches its target rate.

The same goes for weight lifting. By increasing the weight on the barbell, you can continue to reach your target heart rate for that exercise.

Wearables for Heart Monitoring

Wearables have become all the rage in recent years. Their popularity is spurred on by the many health benefits they can provide, including heart rate monitoring, calorie tracking, and even sleep tracking.

Using a smartwatch as a heart rate monitor can help you set goals and stay focused on improving your fitness level. The wearables also make it easier to measure your progress over time, so you won’t lose motivation.

If you are keen on being healthy and care about your heart, you can use a smartwatch. It is possible to monitor your heart rate with these watches. In fact, a study found that we can use smartwatches as an alternative to EKG machines in a clinical setting.

Here are the main advantages of using wearables to monitor your heart rate: Convenience. Arguably the best feature of any wearable device is that you don’t even have to think about it when you’re wearing it.

You wear it while you sleep, while you exercise, or at all times while you’re awake — and that’s it. The data is automatically collected, which means you don’t have to worry about missing any information or forgetting to log something later. Accuracy.

Heart rate monitors are highly accurate when compared with other methods of measuring heart rate in real-time, like taking your pulse manually or using an ECG machine.

Spo2 in smartwatches

A study conducted at Ohio State University found that Fitbits as accurate as chest-worn monitors when monitoring resting heart rates and during moderate exercise but not as good as chest-worn monitors during intense exercise.

How Do Smartwatches Measure Heart Rate?

Can a smartwatch measure heart rate? Yes, they do! Here are some factors that can influence your heart rate measurement:

Light conditions: how much light is available? Too much or too little light will yield inaccurate results

Body part: Where exactly is the sensor measuring from? Different body parts absorb light differently, so you might get different readings if you’re measuring a finger versus your wrist or chest.

The basic idea is that your blood vessels expand and contract as your heart pumps blood to your body.

The colour of your skin can change slightly when this happens, especially on darker skin tones. By shining a light on your skin, the device can detect how much light is absorbed through tiny changes in the colour of your skin.

Specific wavelengths of light (usually green or near-infrared) are absorbed in different rates depending on how much blood there is flowing through the vessels and capillaries underneath.

A sensor uses these differences to calculate the amount of blood flowing through a specific location on your skin – which means it can also detect a pulse. Smartwatches use this technology to measure heart rate by measuring at one point or continuously across the chest.

It involves shining a very bright pulse of light across your chest to detect a single heartbeat and determine how long it took for that beat to reach multiple locations on the chest wall, which establishes an average heart rate over a few seconds.

This is what most optical heart rate sensors do today.  Hope you now understood how heart rate is measured in the smartwatch.

How to Measure Heart Rate with Smartwatch?

how to measure heart rate with smart watch

Measuring your heart rate with an Apple Watch is super simple. All you have to do is press your finger against the Digital Crown so that it’s touching your skin and hold it there for about 10 seconds until the watch vibrates and displays your heart rate on screen.

You can also touch the Digital Crown and swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open Glances and then tap Health.

This will take you directly to your heart rate results page where you can see all previous results as well as averages over time-based on when you measured your pulse.

The app takes readings via a series of taps on the digital crown button, which counts down from 10 before taking a reading.

It also allows you to set alarms based on your heart rate range so that you can get back into shape faster if you’re falling behind in your workout regimen.

Accuracy of Smartwatch’s Heart Rate Monitor

According to Stanford University, Fitness Trackers measure heart rate accurately but not calories burned.

For the most part, smartwatches haven’t been medical devices. They’ve been accessories for the masses, a way to get smartphone notifications on your wrist, track your steps and life goals, and sometimes a way to pay for things. Smartwatches have been seen as more of a lifestyle device than a medical one until now.

Tons of smartwatch manufacturers have already released new models that have upgraded their heart rate monitors, making it even easier to keep in top physical shape. But how accurate are these heart rate monitors?

heart rate accuracy in smartwatches

Tests of the Apple Watch, Microsoft Band, Samsung Gear S2 and Huawei watch showed they were all generally within 10 bpm (beats per minute) – not bad, but not great.

They were all also within 5 bpm most of the time. However, there was one outlier: The Microsoft Band came in at 15 bpm off most of the time.

Even more disappointing: The Apple Watch had a hard time keeping up with a runner’s heart rate when he was sprinting.

A heart rate monitor on a smartwatch provides a convenient way to track your heart rate throughout the day.

It can be useful for things like tracking your recovery after exercise and staying in the right zone during a workout.

Conclusion | Measuring Heart Rate on Smartwatches

We have seen how do smartwatches measure heart rate and its importance. Heart rate monitoring is one of the most crucial features of any heart monitor. With a smartwatch, this becomes a “smart” feature that allows you to track your daily progress – or even improve your health.

Overall, a smartwatch with a heart rate monitor can be a genuinely useful tool when it comes to exercising and living a healthy lifestyle.

If you’re looking to get in shape or shed some pounds, there’s no reason your fitness regime shouldn’t have a little fun mixing in. Exercise is important and getting the right heart rate keeps you on the right path.

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