Apple Watch Ultra heartrate problems while exercising

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)! :slight_smile:

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.

Have others experienced similar results?

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.

And I do not really have a solution.

Not to alarm anyone but …
I had the same with my Garmin a few years ago. Early spike when I use started the run, settled down and all good.

Then came the heart surgery …

If you are 100% healthy, ignore this. If you’re not sure, check with your doc. This happened to me two or three times as I was training for Munich.

Probably way overthinking it but, better safe than sorry. I hope this post ages poorly!

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. :slight_smile:

Via Apple -

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. :slight_smile:

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?

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The ultra is much heavier and moves a lot during a run. Maybe trying to tighten up the strap would help?

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When I was an Apple Watch user I used the sports bands and tightened it down as much as possible. I had some runs where it just wouldn’t record at all because it was too loose (despite it not feeling that loose). I never had it like OP where it was only getting partial readings (or whatever is going on there). It was all or nothing for me.

I switched to a large Garmin that is probably too big for my wrists. It never has issues getting my HR, but I wear a HR monitor for runs and cycling. Watching YT reviews, dedicated monitors are more accurate anyway. Plus, with Garmin, they do “running metrics” as well.

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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.

Strong disagree. Wore an Apple Watch for years and got tons of good data. Was the data perfect? Probably not, but it was close enough. It alerted to me heart problems and worked on 99% of my runs.

I follow a lot of sports tech sites/YouTubers, and running with the really big watches it can be difficult to get good data because it is a big heavy watch that will bounce unless your really lock it down hard on your wrist. But people with bony wrists, like me, might have issues.

Apple Watches have really good HR sensors on them, some of the best there is in sport watches.

Currently, I wear a Garmin, the stress/HRV is scary accurate.

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.

Curious - why’d you switch from AW to Garmin?

Garmin is a lot more fitness focused, with constant HRV, recovery metrics, and better backend software that syncs with all the fitness sites (needed a separate third party app to get Health to sync well with other sites). There are tons more options for setting up workouts and stats with Garmin. Apple is getting better, but they are still behind Garmin.


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.

Heart rate is basic capability that should work.

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I think you have a bad watch or maybe there is something about your wrist where it can’t sit right (as I said, I have bony wrists, so I know big watches can have issues). Something is obviously wrong, but I have seen plenty of discussion of this watch on Reddit by runners, and seen a few sport tech reviews by regular runners and no one has mentioned this. Only thing they say is that the heavier watches have more issues here and might not be as accurate.

I would take it back if I was you. Maybe try a different band? You don’t have tattoos on your wrist, right? Have you used a regular AW?

Edit: Sorry, I really not trying to say this is your fault, I am just saying something is wrong here because this doesn’t seem to be common.

Thanks for continued feedback. No, no tattoos. HR capture is fine when I’m idle. Maybe there is a problem with my watch. :person_shrugging:t2:

In fact,I tried a different band this morning cinched tight. Here’s today’s data…

It got better in the second half at least. :stuck_out_tongue:

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