Heart Rate Monitoring on the iPhone
Track Your Heart Rate: Introduction
One of the important things that you can do with your iPhone in order to monitor your health and fitness is to use it to track your heart rate. There are many different ways that you can monitor and record your heart rate when you use an iPhone. It’s best if any heart rate measurements that are taken on the iPhone, are stored in the Health app. By doing that, you can view the heart rate measurements using the Health app, or with any 3rd party app that allows you to view heart rate records that have be stored in the Health app.
Use the iPhone’s Built in Camera
The simplest way to measure your heart rate is to use the iPhone’s built in camera. This allows you to measure your heart rate without needing any additional accessories. Alternatively, you can use the Apple Watch, which has a built-in heart rate monitor. All heart rate measurements that are recorded on the Apple watch are automatically stored on the iPhone in the Health app.
Use 3rd party Accessories
You can also use one of the many 3rd party accessories that have their own heart rate monitors, and are compatible with the iPhone. These 3rd party accessories can be dedicated heart rate monitors (usually, but not always, in the form of a chest strap), smart watches or fitness trackers. Fitness trackers come in many different form factors. The most common fitness trackers are worn on the wrist, however, there are also fitness trackers that are worn as rings, built into Bluetooth headphones, or worn in a headband or a hat.
This blog post is the first in a series of posts about heart rate monitoring on the iPhone. In future posts, we will provide hands-on guidance to help you learn all the different ways to use your iPhone to measure and track your heart rate and improve your fitness level. Let’s get started!
The easiest way to measure your heart rate using only your iPhone, is to use an app that uses the iPhone’s camera to measure your heart rate. This technique cannot be used to do continuous heart rate monitoring, or to monitor your heart rate while your are exercising, but it can be used to check your heart rate at any time. There are many free apps that allow you to do this. Some of the free apps have In-App Purchases which provided additional functionality, or Ad Free versions.
Check out these apps:
- Instant Heart Rate: HR Monitor – Azumio Inc. (free version)
- Instant Heart Rate+ HR Monitor – Azumio Inc. (paid version)
- Cardiio: Heart Rate Monitor – Cardiio, Inc. (free)
You can use the Apple Watch with your iPhone in order to measure your heart rate. The Apple Watch has a built in heart rate monitor which checks your heart rate every few minutes while you are wearing the watch. Any time the Heart Rate is measured, this information is saved in the Health app on the iPhone, and can be viewed using the Health App, or using one of many 3rd party apps that show you details of the heart rate measurements that have been saved in the Health app.
When you run the Heart Rate app on your Apple Watch, your heart rate will be recorded every five seconds. When you run the built-in Workout app, or any other 3rd party workout app on the Apple Watch, your heart rate will be recorded every five seconds for the duration of the workout. All of the heart rate information that is recorded on the Apple Watch is saved in Health app and can be viewed or analyzed at a later time.
3rd Party Accessories
There are many 3rd party accessories which contain heart rate monitors that can be used with the iPhone. The most reliable and accurate way to monitor the heart rate with an iPhone is to use a dedicated Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor. Most of the Bluetooth heart rate monitors use chest straps to attach the monitor and measure your heart rate. Chest strap monitors measure the heart rate electrically and therefore provide a high level of accuracy. Some dedicated heart rate monitors attach to the wrist or to the arm. There are also a wide variety of activity trackers that have their own heart rate monitors built in. These activity trackers use optical sensors to measure blood flow, and based on the blood flow, they determine the heart rate. This technology is similar to the technology that is used by the Apple Watch. These measurements tend to be a little less accurate than the electrical measurements that are made by chest straps, particularly during intense exercise. In addition to the more common chest strap and wrist band heart rate monitors, there are also heart rate monitors that are mounted on the head, on the ear as part of a Bluetooth headset, or worn as a ring.
Any Heart Rate monitor that supports Bluetooth should work with the iPhone or the Apple Watch.
There are many different companies that make Bluetooth compatible Heart Rate monitors. Some of them have their own apps that run on the iPhone, Apple Watch or both devices. If you use those apps you may be able to get extra functionality that you don’t get when using the built-in software of the iPhone / Apple Watch or 3rd party apps that that are not specific to a particular heart rate monitor.
Several of the most popular Heart Rate monitors are made by Polar and Wahoo. Each of those companies have several different models of Heart Rate monitors that can be used with your apple devices.
Stay tuned for our next blog post in this series.