Fenix 5 - Wrist heart-rate monitors vs. chest straps

Posted by Brian Eller on
Among the number of features in Garmin’s fenix 5 lineup, one of the most popular is wrist-based heart rate monitoring capabilities. The heart rate monitor comes standard on all three fenix 5 models and is an invaluable benefit when it comes to getting the most out of your training.

Yet as with most fitness trackers, there has been a lot of talk about whether the wrist-based heart rate monitors can match, or even surpass, the abilities of chest strap monitors.

In short, the fenix 5 tracker is absolutely going to deliver consistent and reliable heart-rate monitoring 24/7 (or at least, whenever you’re wearing it :p). But it will likely fall a bit short of most chest-strap monitors on the market today. And that’s for one very simple and obvious reason - location.

Chest strap monitors are secured around, well, your chest, a significantly closer proximity to your heart than your wrist. What does this mean? When in use, both chest strap and wrist-based monitors use algorithms to calculate different factors such as blood flow, oxygen levels and other vitals to determine an estimated heart rate.

Some studies have shown chest strap monitors are a touch more reliable for these readings simply because the blood flow doesn’t take as long to reach the chest as it does the wrist. Also, with wrist-based monitors, variables such as wrist flexing, general arm movement, and even outside factors such as sunlight seeping into the watch, can affect the sensor enough to provide a slightly less-than-accurate heart rate reading.

The good news is, however, that the difference in these readings is marginal and there are even some people who prefer wrist-based monitors over chest strap versions for comfort and costs reasons.

One thing is for sure, though. Garmin’s fenix 5 lineup features the absolute latest technology, including its heart-rate monitoring capabilities. You’ll get reliable, accurate readings during your training or, heck, just during your day-to-day activities. And hey, you don’t have to worry about shelling out those extra bucks to purchase a separate chest strap monitor either.

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