Recommendation for Unique HR Monitoring Situation

Hello, all!
I wondered if I could get a recommendation for the best Tool/App combo for a heart-rate monitoring situation.

Basically, I would like to measure the heart-rate of around 150 individuals (one after another) as they each complete a 5ish minute activity. I would like a quick and easy way to start/stop between individuals that essentially compartmentalizes the data so that when I view it I can clearly see when one person stops and the next begins. I would need the ability to access all the data in excel where a specific time-stamp for each data set would correspond with the HR at that time (0:05/100BPM, 0:10/105BPM). I would also need the device to be wrist worn and take measurements at least every 5 or 10 seconds.

In light of the above I have three questions:

  1. Would an Apple Watch fit my needs? I realize that is is probably not the best overall HR monitoring tool, but I think the hype surrounding it could increase interest in my little project :slight_smile:
  2. What would the best overall app or device (or combination) be?

Thank you so much in advance for your advice!

Why does the device have to be wrist-worn? What is the activity? How much do you care about accuracy? And what is your budget?

Wrist worn just for ease of swapping it between participants without anyone having to lift up their shirt :slight_smile: The activity would be non-exercise normal movement. I don’t need medical grade accuracy but wouldn’t want something that’s going to give readings consistently way off-base. As far as price, I’d like to keep it below $250, unless it was something like the Apple Watch that I could get additional personal use out of.

Thanks for your reply!

I’m going to recommend against a wrist-worn monitor, and for a chest-strap style instead. (Hold off on the objection about shirt-lifting for a moment).

Wrist-worn heart rate measurement are done by shining a light into the skin and trying to detect changes in reflected light caused by each pulsation of blood flow. As you can imagine, lots of things can change the reflection besides the blood pulsation – just moving the wrist or shifting the device strap for example. Or hair, tattoos, etc. Wrist worn heart monitors try to get around this by averaging many beats, which means you won’t be able to detect changes very quickly.

A chest-strap style monitor detects the electrical signals from the heart (the basis of the electrocardiogram, or ECG). There are plenty of these available for about 50 bucks and they will be far more accurate that a wrist monitor. Get one that transmits via Bluetooth Low Energy to a compatible mobile phone (iPhone 4S or later, and newer Android phones). There are many apps to record HR from these straps, and they are free.

As a bonus, some HR straps and apps will give you heart rate variability (HRV) which is a more sensitive measure of emotional state and stress than heart rate alone.

Record each participant’s session as a separate exercise session so their data will not be merged together.

Now for the trick: you don’t always have to put the strap right over the, ahem, nipple area. Lower down on the chest can work fine. Do clean the strap between uses, using a tissue with ordinary rubbing alcohol or one of those prep packages, for everyone’s health and comfort.

Good luck!

Thank you so much for your detailed response! I learned a lot from it, not least of which was the difference between the way the heartbeat is measured between wrist worn devices vs. chest straps. I had also not considered the fact that chest straps can function without an accompanying device (other than a smartphone or tablet).

Although I am now much more open to using a chest strap than I was before, assuming I HAD to use a wrist-worn device, would you (or anyone else) be able to offer a recommendation based on my specific needs?

Thank you again!

If it has to be wrist-worn, I’d suggest the Basis Peak. But if you have a use for the device after the study is complete, that might dictate a different choice.

This review seems like a good overview.

Good luck!

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