I’m finding heart rate recording on an Apple Watch Ultra while running to be very problematic. On some runs it seems to track fine and on others it completely misses. See the following for an example of today’s data. I could only wish my heart rate was so smooth (and low)!
I have moved the watch up my arm slightly… just enough to move past the bone at the wrist so that the back of the watch has a good contact area. I also wear my strap very tight while running. Neither seems to help.
Yes, I do have experienced the same. It works fine when I am not running. If I am running, there are trainings when I barely get any heart rate reading at all. This is not exclusive to the Apple Watch Ultra.
Absolutely, it always is better to be safe than sorry. I can only speak for myself: no issues.
My “skinny” arm in combination with my movements seems to be the issue when I am running. I do not have these “ups” and “downs”, but quite significant periods without any reading while running (my heart rate starts low and is climbing and remains in a steady state while running).
When I am using the exercise bike in my cosy home, the Apple Watch is able to read the heart rate with no issues (well, it is not very difficult when the arm is not doing anything…). It does not miss a beat then, apparently.
Many factors can affect the performance of the Apple Watch heart rate sensor. Skin perfusion (or how much blood flows through your skin) is one factor. Skin perfusion varies significantly from person to person and can also be impacted by the environment. If you’re exercising in the cold, for example, the skin perfusion in your wrist might be too low for the heart rate sensor to get a reading. (…) If you’re not able to get a consistent reading because of any of these factors, you can connect your Apple Watch wirelessly to external heart rate monitors such as Bluetooth chest straps. Learn how to pair Bluetooth accessories.
And yes, it is coooold.
I have never seriously looked into it, but:
I would love to hear from more runners here: do you have issues with heartrate reading while running and if so, what are you possibly using as an alternative/add-on?
And this is the reason I’ve abandoned using my Apple Watch for anything but SIRI, day/time and reminders. Truthfully, all wrist based HR watches have the same problem. So whatever data you’re gathering will tell you a story… but it’s not going to be a very helpful story.
The impact of colder temperatures is an interesting theory. It was definitely cold (and windy) yesterday (the run whose graphic I shared). I ran earlier in the week in warmer conditions and had no issues. Perhaps this is the root cause.
It is certainly not a problem with the watch moving. I have it cinched down very tight.
I have used a Bluetooth chest strap (Wahoo) in the past as I use one cycling. I just hate wearing it when I’m running. Perhaps I will need to compromise and wear it on cold runs.
I will pay closer attention now to my data dropouts to see if they correlate to weather.
The more I think about this the more frustrated I get. I understand there may be some limitations and perhaps some physiologic conditions that affect measurement. However, we purchased an $800 watch marketed by Apple as the “Ultimate Sports Watch”. It should work reliably in all conditions other than the extreme. Running in colder weather is not an edge case.
Thanks for the feedback. I am a long time Wahoo customer. Have owned and still actively use many products of theirs. Always a great product, in my experience. Sort of like the Apple of yesteryear… it just works. Unlike my experience with Garmin (bike computers)
I use a Polar Heart Rate Monitor (I think it’s the H7) and it pairs just fine with my Ultra. I’ve been using Polar HRMs for about 16 years starting with my old Polar running watch and they are very accurate. You can use it with Polar’s own app (Polar Beat) or directly with the Apple Watch.
I wanted to run a comparison of the heart rate results between the watch and my chest strap, before I saw your post. I haven’t done that yet, but my own heart rate graph from the watch’s heart-rate sensor looks accurate and shows the types of variations that I would expect. I’ll do an official test in the next day or so and post anything interesting.
I ran my test this morning. I did one 3 mile run trying to achieve a range of heart rates. So, I ran some hill repeats. I set myself up with an Apple Fitness run using the watch’s HR monitor and on my iPhone I ran Polar Beat connected to the chest strap. It’s hard to compare the charts perfectly, but the general trend line seems the same. Plus, they both recorded the same highest heart rate of 181 bpm and the same average heart rate of 157. On balance, it seems like the watch is reporting accurate data for me… or at least I should say I’m getting consistent results between the two different HRMs to which I have access.
One last qualifier. The Apple Watch run started shortly after I started the Polar run. So they are little out of sync for maybe 0.05 mi.
One last post on this one in case someone comes here in search of a solution to a similar problem. On today’s run I reverted back to AW HR only but this time I moved my watch up my arm — about 2 fingers width above my wrist bone.
Much better results. Something happened at the end but, in all, notably better.
I wish I could offer more help here, but also an Apple Watch Ultra user with no heart rate reading issues – I’ve compared my HR from Apple Watch to a high quality chest strap readings and have been very happy with the accuracy.
I also run in similar conditions to you – I run about 7-8 hours a week through the Canadian winter. I also have a full sleeve tattoo that goes slightly under the watch.
All this to say – I wish I could be more helpful, but hope that my use case which sounds similar to yours (outdoor cold running) hasn’t caused me any issues, so I think your issue is something else.
My last run on the treadmill the day before yesterday was particular bad regarding the Apple Watch’s ability to catch my heart rate. Only three little dots in the beginning of my run. So I finished my half an hour of running with an average heart rate of 107 according to the Apple Watch…
One of the reasons I bought the Ultra was that I thought that it maybe improves the Apple Watch’s ability of reading my heart rate when running. It does not. It performs exactly the same as does the regular Apple Watch. Which should not be a surprise, but … at least it was a nice excuse to go for the Ultra .
Be it as it may, I looked into getting a chest strap to get reliable data. While checking out several options online, I stumbled upon this little fellow in some reviews as a comfortable and easy to use alternative to chest straps and I bought it for about 60 Euro:
For sure, the product name Polar Verity Sense is not intended as a pun against “smart watches”, but it made me smile. And guess what: I paired it with the Apple Watch Ultra, put the Verity Sense on my upper arm and started a new run this morning. The Polar Verity Sense did not miss a beat. It was a joy to watch the constant heart rate showing up on the Apple Watch while running. It is easy to handle, very comfortable and apparently it just works. I am glad that I found this thing.
I am happy for those who are able to get reliable heart rate readings from the Apple Watch while exercising, but there are also quite a lot of persons who are not so lucky - also in this community, as I rediscovered:
FWIW: still using the same Polar H10 paired with the AW (not the phone) and it seems pretty accurate. Bonus is that if I forget to charge the AW, I can leave it on the charger, start the workout and it reads everything (as long as I’m still in range).
It might be a silly twist of my brain in combination with English being not my first language. I feel a little awkward.
Verity as in truth.
Sense as in sense (literally and as in making sense).
Basically a device that is able to deliver the true heart rate with its sensor reliably opposed to other devices with optical sensors like wrist watches that sometimes fail doing so at least for some persons (like me). Yeah, maybe a tad awkward.