Discover what's new & improved in the MyFitnessPal app!
We’re dedicated to helping you achieve your health and nutrition goals. And our newest features and updates? They do just that. Learn how we're making tracking your progress easier, faster, and more motivating than ever.

Fitbit Charge HR or just a HR monitor?

Options
I need to replace my Polar HR monitor. Should I get another or upgrade to a Fitbit or something else? The Fitbit Charge HR looks appealing, but I just haven't researched them enough to make a logical decision. Are they better? Anyone have something other than a Oolar HR monitor that would share what you love/don't love about it?

Replies

  • ScubaSteve1962
    ScubaSteve1962 Posts: 609 Member
    Options
    Not what you asked, but I will share why I like my Polar activity monitor, I used a polar FT80 HRM and loved it, so when they came out with the activity monitors, it was a no brainier to upgrade to one of those. I'm very pleased with it also. If it's heart rate you're looking for, would getting a fitbit really be an upgrade?
  • debubbie
    debubbie Posts: 767 Member
    Options
    I love my Polar HR7 and I feel it is way more accurate on my calorie burn than my Fitbit HR charge. I have the fitbit so I can participate in challenges with friends and coworkers and use the Polar for my running and cross training.
  • Orphia
    Orphia Posts: 7,097 Member
    Options
    I love my Fitbit Charge HR. Shameless plug ahead!

    Info from Fitbit: https://www.fitbit.com/au/chargehr

    Also, there was a really cool update this week:

    http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/11/24/will-fitbit-incs-latest-update-keep-it-ahead-of-it.aspx

    "Fitbit recently released a new software update that makes its Charge HR and Surge fitness trackers much smarter. The new "SmartTrack" feature automatically detects a wide range of activities, like walking, running, elliptical, aerobic workouts, swimming, kickboxing, basketball, and even Zumba. Its PurePulse heart rate tracking feature has been updated for higher accuracy during high-intensity workouts, and its updated mobile app now includes weekly exercise goals to "encourage people to embrace a more consistent workout routine."

    Basically, you don't have to even press a button to record a type of exercise. Nifty!

    *doing this despite the lack of shill bucks*
  • MeanderingMammal
    MeanderingMammal Posts: 7,866 Member
    Options
    I need to replace my Polar HR monitor. Should I get another or upgrade to a Fitbit or something else? The Fitbit Charge HR looks appealing, but I just haven't researched them enough to make a logical decision. Are they better? Anyone have something other than a Oolar HR monitor that would share what you love/don't love about it?

    It depends what you want from it. Despite the hype a Fitbit is basically a step counter with a low end HR monitor and limited firmware. Polar HR monitoring is probably the best on the market.

    If you want HR monitoring, then it's worth thinking about whether you just want HR monitoring, or whether you want to associate that HR data with something else? Given that HR data is pretty meaningless in isolation I'd suggest the latter. That plays into your budget?

    Personally I have a GPS unit with HR, cadence and speed sensors. GPS and HR for running, Cadence and speed in addition when I'm cyling. Fitbit isn't going to give you that flexibility, you're looking at Garmin or Suunto, with Polar sitting in the mid-range.

  • amusedmonkey
    amusedmonkey Posts: 10,330 Member
    Options
    If heart rate during exercise is your main goal, then stick to heart rate monitors. The chest strap is more accurate than pulse sensing. It's usually an instant sync while an hand-worn device may take a few extra seconds. Not to mention that a good heart rate monitor more customizable to your own fitness level.

    If you are interested in all day monitoring, steps, flights of stairs, challenges, goals, community, motivation, badges...etc then a fitbit might be better for that purpose. It gives you an overall estimation of your daily calories regardless if you exercise or not, and you may enjoy the convenience of automatic exercise detection and calorie sync to MFP. It's basically a wear-and-forget type of gadget.
  • christianteach
    christianteach Posts: 593 Member
    Options
    I ordered the Fitbit last night, but I think I've already changed my mind. Monitoring my HR is my top priority and it doesn't sound like this is very accurate. Perhaps I should keep it since it's already shipped. Ideally I'd have both, but my husband would find that a waste of money. Now I'm wishing I would have ordered the ft7 or ft60. Although since I got it on sale, I could add the ft4 for only a few dollars more than the Fitbit normally runs...
  • autumnblade75
    autumnblade75 Posts: 1,661 Member
    Options
    The HR monitor on my Fitbit works better for me than the chest strap HR monitor that came with my treadmill. I eventually caved in and bought it because I wasn't sure that any of the Bluetooth chest straps would be compatible with my 2 year old smart phone. I am not disappointed with it.
  • successgal1
    successgal1 Posts: 996 Member
    Options
    I find my fitbit charge hr 100% accurate at reading my heart rate. Not sure why some think its subpar. The latest app update is fantastic. Yesterday it accurately recorded my 2 half hour dog walks, time, heart rate and zones over that period, and it also recorded my bike ride, outdoor biking only, time and heart rate. It doesn't have GPS, so distance wouldn't be accurate obviously, but I'm not racing, I'm trying to stay close to steady state for longer periods of time. I didn't have to do a thing but wear it. Its perfect. IMHO.
  • successgal1
    successgal1 Posts: 996 Member
    Options
    Here's what the fitbit caught with the new update, without me doing a thing. The third walk on the list was my first one, the 50-60 pound dogs. They trot/walk in a shorter stride then my bigger dogs, and when I tap on that walk the heart rate monitor breaks my rate down between fat burn, cardio and peak. This walk was mostly cardio walking at a moderate pace.

    The second walk showed mostly peak, the 2 dogs are 70-90 lbs and have longer strides, I really stretched my stride out so the dogs could trot instead of walk, and the exertion showed. Normally my SO would have walked them, it was my first time in a long time taking those two out.

    The outdoor bike ride was last, and I got rained on. Normally I ride a little steadier and pace myself, but the ride was cut from almost 7 miles to 5, to get out of the rain. I ride a one speed and part of that ride was on freshly rained on sandy/muddy rode, and against the wind, so I had more peak heart rate then cardio.

    Again, I didn't have to do anything but wear the fitbit.

    pbp9upau46tq.png
  • successgal1
    successgal1 Posts: 996 Member
    Options
    Its funny, looking at the heart rate stats I get into cardio zone faster with the smaller dogs, they pull a bit on the first stretch!
  • MeanderingMammal
    MeanderingMammal Posts: 7,866 Member
    Options
    I find my fitbit charge hr 100% accurate at reading my heart rate. Not sure why some think its subpar. The latest app update is fantastic.

    So there are a number of reasons why optical monitoring is slightly less accurate than electrical monitoring. Optical is verysensitive to light contamination, and with nothing in the fitbits to mitigate that the reporting seems to suggest some error. It's also sensitive to skin treatments; moisturiser, skin tone and stuff like hair on the arm.

    In practice that difference isn't significant enough to be meaningful to most people.

    HRMs for more sports performance are starting to get optical monitoring, but the majority opinion is that ECG is more meaningful for performance. Optical is good enough for entry level devices like Fitbit.

    The more significant issue is, whether that HR data is being used in a meaingful way.
    Yesterday it accurately recorded my 2 half hour dog walks, time, heart rate and zones over that period, and it also recorded my bike ride, outdoor biking only, time and heart rate. It doesn't have GPS, so distance wouldn't be accurate obviously, but I'm not racing, I'm trying to stay close to steady state for longer periods of time. I didn't have to do a thing but wear it. Its perfect. IMHO.

    fwiw the figures you show for walks look to be about 30% higher than I'd anticipate for someone of your weight, assuming a reasonably brisk pace of 15min/mile.
  • christianteach
    christianteach Posts: 593 Member
    Options
    I also ordered the Polar ft60. My husband is going to kill me and may make me return one of them. It will be here Monday.
  • successgal1
    successgal1 Posts: 996 Member
    Options
    I find my fitbit charge hr 100% accurate at reading my heart rate. Not sure why some think its subpar. The latest app update is fantastic.

    So there are a number of reasons why optical monitoring is slightly less accurate than electrical monitoring. Optical is verysensitive to light contamination, and with nothing in the fitbits to mitigate that the reporting seems to suggest some error. It's also sensitive to skin treatments; moisturiser, skin tone and stuff like hair on the arm.

    In practice that difference isn't significant enough to be meaningful to most people.

    HRMs for more sports performance are starting to get optical monitoring, but the majority opinion is that ECG is more meaningful for performance. Optical is good enough for entry level devices like Fitbit.

    The more significant issue is, whether that HR data is being used in a meaingful way.
    Yesterday it accurately recorded my 2 half hour dog walks, time, heart rate and zones over that period, and it also recorded my bike ride, outdoor biking only, time and heart rate. It doesn't have GPS, so distance wouldn't be accurate obviously, but I'm not racing, I'm trying to stay close to steady state for longer periods of time. I didn't have to do a thing but wear it. Its perfect. IMHO.

    fwiw the figures you show for walks look to be about 30% higher than I'd anticipate for someone of your weight, assuming a reasonably brisk pace of 15min/mile.

    Thank you for the clarification. I don't use skin treatments or moisturiser under the fitbit, I do use sunscreen but I don't put it on under the fitbit. My arms are pretty hairless. I make sure the fitbit is snug. Light contamination I suppose is a factor when weight lifting, where your muscles can dislodge it slightly during some moves, but its pretty snug on my wrist during walking or biking. My walks are 3mph, thats 3/4 of a mile in 15 minutes. The 15 minute mile would likely vary with stride length and assume a steady pace, not the first quarter mile where a golden retriever is staring up at you adoringly instead of trotting on, or the austrailian shepherd dragging and forcing a shorter stride to hang on. If I were dogless (perish the thought!) I expect I'd hit that level. I know for a fact I take shorter strides with the smaller dogs, as I said previously. After 2 years of sendentarily standing at my old job, my hips and surrounding muscles are still feeling tight. Re-learning my old, lengthy, relaxed stride without pulling a muscle is going to take a little time, I once power walked my way into a torn meniscus, I can STAND for 9 hours holding my 188lbs, I actually have some awesome leg muscles from that. I'm only 3 weeks into this and am being careful with form, even quality walking has form, not just lifting that everyone talks about. I COULD push it, but why risk it? The fitbit helps with even moderation in exercise.

    Heart rate is affected by fitness level also. I checked visually the rate at one point and it was at 155. Its fairly easy for me to hit a higher heart rate due to my low fitness level and fat.

    Now using it meaningfully I agree is the key. For the potential of overestimating calorie burns I generally avoid going over exercise calories, and the only calories I look at are the ones from actual exercise, not any other activity the fitbit figures in throughout the day. If you look at my diary for yesterday you'll note I only ate 208 calories more, though the fitbit gave me 688.
  • MeanderingMammal
    MeanderingMammal Posts: 7,866 Member
    edited November 2015
    Options
    My walks are 3mph, thats 3/4 of a mile in 15 minutes.

    So about 1.5 miles in half an hour?

    Given your weight you're burning about 60 cals per mile, so call it 90-100 cals for your walks.

    Distance and mass are the main determinants of calorie expenditure in this kind of situation. Pace isn't relevant.

    I'm only 3 weeks into this and am being careful with form, even quality walking has form, not just lifting that everyone talks about. I COULD push it, but why risk it? The fitbit helps with even moderation in exercise.

    Heart rate is affected by fitness level also. I checked visually the rate at one point and it was at 155. Its fairly easy for me to hit a higher heart rate due to my low fitness level and fat.

    Hmm, 155bpm is higher than my HR when I'm running at about 6mph, on level ground. That's a good indicator of why HR can be quite deceptive when using it to determine calorie expenditure using an entry level device like a Fitbit.

    While your HR is significantly elevated that's more a function of your heart being inefficient. Your Fitbit can't account for your VO2 Max or your lactate threshold, which play into understanding how effective your heart is.
    Now using it meaningfully I agree is the key. For the potential of overestimating calorie burns I generally avoid going over exercise calories, and the only calories I look at are the ones from actual exercise, not any other activity the fitbit figures in throughout the day. If you look at my diary for yesterday you'll note I only ate 208 calories more, though the fitbit gave me 688.

    I guess the main issue is what your net calorie intake is, as well as what proportion of your exercise calories you eat back. You're probably doing a fairly sensible thing at the moment by discounting a fairly large proportion of what the Fitbit is telling you. As you lose weight and get a bit fitter you'll probably find the scale of error should reduce in time.

    For me. meaningful is about what HR is telling me, rather than using it as a proxy for calorie expenditure. How is my performance improving in response to training stimuli.

    None of that is to say that they don't have a purpose. If it's motivational and helpful to you then it serves a purpose. They're not magic bullets though. More of a triumph of marketing over science.
  • successgal1
    successgal1 Posts: 996 Member
    Options
    But this is what gets me confused... how is my exertion with very little muscle and carrying around 45lbs of dead weight not comparable to a fit person carrying around only the useful weight of muscle for that exertion. I mean, to me its obvious that a brisk walk is real exertion based on 45lbs of fat with little muscle, is that not a good workout? I mean, isn't that like a fit person carrying around a 45lb backpack for the same walk? You're gonna feel it.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,809 Member
    Options
    But this is what gets me confused... how is my exertion with very little muscle and carrying around 45lbs of dead weight not comparable to a fit person carrying around only the useful weight of muscle for that exertion. I mean, to me its obvious that a brisk walk is real exertion based on 45lbs of fat with little muscle, is that not a good workout? I mean, isn't that like a fit person carrying around a 45lb backpack for the same walk? You're gonna feel it.

    It's physics not "feelings". Mass and distance determines energy expenditure, not body composition.

    A supremely fit, strong, muscular 200lb person walking up a few flights of stairs will burn the same number of calories as a fat and unfit 200lb person walking up a few flights of stairs.
    Their heart rates and how hard it feels may well be wildly different but energy (calories) expenditure is the same.

    A good workout for an unfit person may just a warm up for an fit person.
  • MeanderingMammal
    MeanderingMammal Posts: 7,866 Member
    Options
    But this is what gets me confused... how is my exertion with very little muscle and carrying around 45lbs of dead weight not comparable to a fit person carrying around only the useful weight of muscle for that exertion. I mean, to me its obvious that a brisk walk is real exertion based on 45lbs of fat with little muscle, is that not a good workout? I mean, isn't that like a fit person carrying around a 45lb backpack for the same walk? You're gonna feel it.

    Indeed, I understand the confusion.

    You're carrying your bodymass, so the amount of energy you burn if a function of the distance that you carry that mass through. If you walk a mile you'll expend about 60 calories, if I walk a mile I'll expend about 50 calories, as I'm 160lbs. Broadly each activity has a Metabolic Equivalent (MET) that factors the amount of effort involved. That allows you to compare your own expenditure in different activities, and equally how different people will respond to the same exercise.

    So moving yourself across the distance involves burning energy that's stored in your body. That chemical energy is stored in a number of different ways in the body but essentially using it involves burning in the muslces, and using oxygen to achieve that. Your bolood carries the oxygen around the body. The volume of oxygen in a litre of blood is a function of how efficient your lungs are, so for someone at your stage that's far less than someone a lot fitter than you are. That means far more beats per minute to move a comparable volume of oxygen around. You can determine improvements in your fitness by measuring your Resting Heart Rate. One of the useful figures that your Fitbit Charge HR can give you.

    The other aspect that plays into that is the strength of the heart, so the volume of blood that it moves around with each beat increases as your fitness improves.

    The answer to your question about whether it's a good workout or not depends on how you define good. It's not just about burning calories, but about improving your fitness.