Though many factors can affect your heart rate, your resting heart rate can be a good indicator of your overall health and physical fitness level.
In fact, some research has found that having a low resting heart rate is associated with health and longevity, while having a higher heart rate at rest may be linked to an increased risk of chronic disease (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
In particular, an elevated heart rate can also be a risk factor for future health issues, including heart disease and stroke (7Trusted Source).
Benefits of monitoring your heart rate
Not only can keeping tabs on your resting heart rate tell you how your body is responding to your exercise routine, but it can also help you detect heart issues early to ensure the best possible outcomes.
Dr. Dia Smiley, a cardiologist, notes that “monitoring your heart rate can detect issues, such as irregular heart rhythm, and fast and slow heart rates, even if symptoms are not obvious or present yet.”
Smiley also states that if you do have a history of heart issues, like AFib, checking your heart rate can help identify an arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat.
Some heart rate monitoring watches, including Fitbit, Apple, Google, and Garmin options, have technology that is able to detect irregular heart rhythms.
Using a heart rate monitor can also be beneficial during exercise. Keeping track of your heart rate can help you monitor your exercise intensity (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
Plus, knowing how often and for what length of time you’re exercising at a heart rate that’s close to your maximum heart rate can help you avoid overtraining (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
When to talk with a doctor
There are several instances when you should talk with a doctor about your heart rate, especially if it’s too low or high.
“Anytime you have a low heart rate (less than 60), and feel dizzy, tired, or pass out, you should definitely see a doctor,” Smiley says. “If the heart rate is 50 beats or lower, even without symptoms, you should seek medical help.”
She also notes that you should talk with a doctor if your heart rate is over 100 beats per minute when you’re at rest or if it’s over 100 beats per minute and you’re experiencing symptoms like dizziness, anxiety, or heart palpitations.
Frequently asked questions about heart rate monitoring watches
Are heart rate monitoring watches accurate?
Several factors can affect the accuracy of heart rate monitoring watches, including the specific brand, your activity level, and the position of the sensors on your skin (10Trusted Source).
Though heart rate monitoring watches aren’t as precise as medical devices, such as electrode-containing chest monitors, they’re generally accurate and can be a useful tool to help track your heart rate (1Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).
Can a smartwatch detect heart issues?
Smartwatches can be beneficial for identifying certain heart issues.
Dr. Nick West, chief medical officer and divisional vice president at Abbott’s vascular business, notes that heart rate monitoring watches may help detect abnormally fast or irregular heart rhythms, including AFib.
According to West, “There are early reports of smartwatches picking up early signs of heart attack from analyzed changes in electrical activity.” However, he also states that this technology is still being developed.
What is a normal heart rate?
According to the American Heart Association, a typical resting heart rate typically ranges from 60–100 beats per minute in healthy adults (11Trusted Source).
However, your resting heart rate can vary based on many factors, including age, sex, physical fitness level, and health status (12).
What is the best smartwatch for detecting irregular heartbeat?
If AFib or an irregular heart rate is your primary concern, you’ll want to pick a smartwatch that can specifically detect an irregular heartbeat.
Certain devices, including the Apple Watch, Fitbit, and Google Pixel (which uses Fitbit technology), have FDA clearance for AFib notifications, making these models the most reliable.
The bottom line
There are heart rate monitor watches on the market to fit every budget and need.
In addition to price, you’ll want to factor in the available features, battery life, and customer reviews.
While the options in this article are an excellent place to start, if your main priority is the accuracy of your heart rate reading, you may want to consider a chest strap monitor instead.
Regardless of which device you choose, always make sure to alert your healthcare professional to any concerns you may have about your heart rate data.