With at-home workouts hotter than ever during these trying times, no solution has risen to the top quite like the smart indoor bike. Need proof? Peloton currently has 2.6 million members in its virtual riding community, and more than 1.1 million users signed up for free trials of the Peloton app at the start of Covid-19. Yup, it’s really that popular.
But once you’ve got the fancy bike in your home — reminder, it starts at $2,245, and the monthly subscription costs $39 a month — there’s still some shopping to be done. We’ve found a slew of must-have indoor cycling accessories, from socks and towels to weights and water bottles. But truly, none is more important to your Peloton ride than the heart rate monitor.
Both the American Heart Association and the US Department of Health and Human Services recommend adults engage in 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly. A heart rate monitoring device is key to verifying you’re hitting this goal, but these come in many forms (from hundreds of brands, too), which can make buying one a tricky process.
We talked to Dr. Eugene Chung, chair of the American College of Cardiology’s sports and exercise leadership council and director of sports cardiology at the University of Michigan, about why exactly Peloton riders should be using a heart rate monitor in the first place.
“For recreational athletes, heart rate monitors can be used to reach a target heart rate zone or range, thus optimizing your workout — or ensuring you reach your maximal workout,” he explained. “You can also monitor how the heart rate accelerates and recovers. It gives you a very accurate barometer of fitness.”
Adds Peloton instructor Olivia Amato, “Heart rate data is a great way to track your progress over time, and ensure you are training safely and effectively. Sometimes you may want to focus on power and elevating your heart, when other times you may want to keep your heart rate steady and consistent for endurance training. We need to incorporate both types of training in order to be healthy, well-rounded athletes.”
And for those who are recovering from an injury, Chung says monitors are a great way to stay within a certain zone of stress — scaling back or pushing harder as needed — as they rebuild endurance and conditioning.
As for what shoppers should keep in mind when they’re perusing the sea of monitors out there, Amato says you first need to identify what exactly you need the device for — everyday health tracking or sport-specific training.
“If it is just for health, a watch is a fine choice since you can easily wear it every day. If you fall into the sport-specific category, you should consider what sports you will be training in — riding, running, strength training, HIIT training, swimming or maybe all of the above,” she says. “You also need to consider how accurate you want/need the data to be. Data from a watch won’t be quite as accurate as a chest strap. Watches have optical sensors and are super convenient, but usually can’t keep up with the highs and lows of HIIT workouts and/or quick bursts of power. If you are going for comfort and accuracy, but something that you will only wear when working out, the armband heart rate monitors are a good option.”
Currently, Amazon has hundreds of heart rate monitoring devices on its site. (Peloton also offers one for $49.) We sifted through the myriad options to surface those with the most reviews and highest star ratings. Below, you can find the top sellers broken into categories by format — heart monitor watches, chest monitors and arm bands.
Starting at $25 and going up to a few hundred bucks, these heart rate monitors are the most favored on Amazon right now. Whether you’re hopping on your Pelo or logging onto the app for a serious interval run, these devices will make your workouts more efficient by using heart rate metrics to help you train intelligently.
Apple Watch Series 5 (starting at $399; amazon.com)
Number of reviews: 3,900+
The Apple Watch may be best known as the ultra-intuitive timepiece that pings you about everything from texts and emails to news alerts and weather updates, but the device’s heart rate monitoring capability is one of its core, fundamental features. While the Peloton bike provides all its own metrics, the Apple Watch is the only watch that is compatible with the Peloton app — so if you’re opting for an off-bike boot camp or cardio class, the Apple Watch will link directly with the app, providing all your workout metrics in real time.
Beyond workouts, the watch also has the ECG app that can actually record an electrocardiogram to detect atrial fibrillation (an irregular heart rhythm) and the Heart app which will then deliver a notification to the wearer. Yes, really!
Chung says this watch can be a literal lifesaver by warning of potentially dangerous health complications. Beyond that, Apple Watch also acts a general guardian of health, reminding users to stay active throughout the day (the device’s “stand reminders” at 10 to the hour are a favorite among Amazon reviewers). Want to spend even less? Grab up the Series 3 (24,000+ reviews) for just $199.
Garmin Forerunner 35 GPS Running Watch ($99, originally $169.99; amazon.com)
Number of reviews: 4,900+
An ultra-affordable smartwatch — its current, 42%-off sale price is a smokin’ deal — this original Forerunner is also an Amazon shopper favorite, thanks to its 24/7 heart rate monitoring, built-in GPS, alerts, and calorie, step and distance tracking. Want music capabilities? Upgrade to the Forerunner 245 ($321; 904 reviews), which can connect to Spotify and other streaming services.
Fitbit Versa 2 ($199.54; amazon.com)
Number of reviews: 10,000+
Armed with Amazon Alexa support and Spotify, Fitbit’s latest smartwatch also comes with sleep quality data, the ability to send voice replies on Android devices, and a bigger battery that allows one charge to last five days. Bells and whistles aside, the Versa 2’s most valued functionality for the Peloton pack is that it’s monitoring your heart rate 24/7, and tracking daily calorie burn and resting heart rate, too.
A range of goal-based exercise modes — from biking and running to weights or yoga — allows you to set goals based on calories burned, distance or duration, which the watch tracks and celebrates once the target is achieved. More to know: The brand suggests moving the watch higher on your arm, up toward the elbow (three finger widths above the wrist, to be exact), to get a more exact heart rate during exercise.
Fitbit Charge 4 (starting at $146.63; amazon.com)
Number of reviews: 3,100+
An upgrade to the beloved Charge 3 ($99.93; 23,000+ reviews), the Charge 4 is Fitbit’s first tracker to include GPS. We love the new workout intensity maps that display your different heart rate zones over the terrain of your workout (great for outdoor cyclists), and the “Active Zone Minutes,” a metric based on your age and resting heart rate, that pings the user each time the heart rate zone changes: One buzz indicates fat burn zone, two buzzes for cardio zone and three buzzes for peak zone.
The data is then compiled in the Fitbit app, breaking down the user’s heart rate zones throughout the day and suggesting ways to help reach goals. There’s also the “PurePulse” feature that tracks heart rate 24/7, allowing wearers to see real time heart rates and measure daily calorie burn.
Garmin Vivosmart 4 (starting at $95.50, originally $129.99; amazon.com)
Number of reviews: 1,800+
No surprise here: Garmin also has a beloved fitness tracker on the market. Dubbed the Vivosmart 4, the slim wristband monitors not only heart rate, calories and steps, but can also set up activity timers, receive notification alerts, check the weather and find your phone!
Product highlights include monitoring the user’s HRV (the time interval between each heartbeat) to assess stress levels throughout the day, and a Pulse Ox sensor that measures blood oxygen levels. More to know: One battery charge lasts up to seven days.
Lintelek Fitness Tracker ($25.98, originally $35.99; amazon.com)
Number of reviews: 6,000+
More than 4,500 Amazon shoppers have good things to say about this tracker, which is the most affordable on our list. The waterproof tracker’s capabilities include 24/7 real time heart rate and sleep monitoring; distance, steps, speed and calorie burn tracking; call and text alerts; and sedentary alerts. Waterproof and iOS- and Android-compatible, the watch comes in six colors — and for one dollar more you can get an extra strap.
Polar H7 Bluetooth Heart Rate Sensor & Fitness Tracker ($52.95; amazon.com)
Number of reviews: 7,100+
Long known for providing consistently accurate heart rate metrics in real time, Polar’s H7 Bluetooth-enabled sensor can sync with fitness apps (or you can opt to store all your workouts on the Polar’s Beat app, which is free). Reviewers describe the waterproof product as being both comfortable and “very accurate.”
More to know: Polar has a newer iteration of the sensor. The H10 (starting at $86.95) is compatible with the Peloton app and bike, as well as pretty much all iPhone and Android devices and GoPro.
Garmin HRM-Dual Heart Rate Monitor ($54.99; amazon.com)
Number of reviews: 1,700+
Garmin’s latest heart rate monitoring chest strap is also its most advanced, in that it can transmit real-time heart rate data via ANT+ and Bluetooth to fitness apps and the Peloton bike directly. More to know: Even the removable heart rate module is machine-washable!
Garmin HRM-Tri ($92.51, originally $129.99; amazon.com)
Number of reviews: 2,300+
Garmin’s lightest and smallest heart rate monitor is the HRM-Tri, which was created specifically for triathletes, who are biking, running and swimming. And with more than 2,000 positive reviews, it’s also one of Amazon’s top sellers. While it doesn’t feature the Bluetooth technology of the HRM-Dual, it does store up to 20 hours of fitness data — even when underwater — and sends it to your compatible device after the workout. More to know: The HRM-Tri sends real-time heart rate data to your watch when biking and has a replaceable battery.
Wahoo Tickr Heart Rate Monitor ($49.99; amazon.com)
Number of reviews: 4,300+
Track your heart rate, calories burned, workout duration and more in real time with this chest strap from Wahoo that boasts integrated Bluetooth and ANT+ technology. Compatible with both the Peloton bike and app, not to mention iPhones and Androids and more than 50 fitness apps, the hand-washable strap and sensor are ultra-lightweight and waterproof up to 5 feet.
Scosche Rhythm+ Heart Rate Monitor Armband ($79.95; amazon.com)
Number of reviews: 1,200+
Available in five punchy colors (we’re partial to the pink!), each Scosche Rhythm+ comes with two lightweight straps (one small, one large). Sweatproof and waterproof, the Bluetooth- and ANT+-enabled monitor is compatible with both the Peloton app and bike, and easily pairs with dozens of other fitness apps, devices and gym equipment.
Wahoo Tickr Fit Heart Rate Monitor Armband ($79.99; amazon.com)
Number of reviews: 480+
Like its chest strap counterpart, the Wahoo Tickr Fit armband tracks heart rate and calorie burn in real time and can transmit the metrics in real time to the Peloton app and bike (as well as myriad other apps), thanks to Bluetooth and ANT+ technology. The armband has a USB rechargeable battery that has up to 30 hours of battery life.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.