6 Ways Continuous Heart Rate Tracking Gets You Closer to Your Goals

Fitbit heart rate tracking

In the past, knowing how fast your heart was beating involved wearing an uncomfortable chest strap. But now, continuous heart rate tracking is available on a variety of wrist-based Fitbit devices thanks to PurePulse Technology. That means whenever you’re wearing your compatible Fitbit tracker or smartwatch, your pulse is automatically tracked 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

You may think that’s just a cool perk, but continuous heart rate monitoring is actually integral to many of the other functions your device performs. From sleep stages to calorie-burn tracking, using a device with 24/7 heart rate tracking can help you get a leg up on your health and fitness goals. Here’s how:

Goal: Weight Loss
Try This Heart-Rate Powered Feature: Calories burned

Calories Burned in the Fitbit app

How it helps: Anyone who wants to drop pounds knows it’s all about the calorie deficit: Your body needs to burn off more calories than you’re taking in. Gauging how much you eat is relatively easy (especially if you’re a food logger) but knowing how many calories you burn? Because the body burns more calories at higher heart rates, that’s a bit more difficult—unless you have access to continuous heart rate monitoring.

To estimate your calories burned, Fitbit takes into account your basal metabolic rate (the rate at which your body burns calories at rest), activity recorded by your tracker, and any activities you manually log. Together, this data helps your device better estimate your daily calorie burn. Give it a shot: 3 Stair Climber Workouts to Help You Get Fit, Fast.

Goal: Efficient Workouts
Try This Heart-Rate Powered Feature: Heart rate zones

Heart rates zones on the Fitbit iPhone dashboard

How it helps: When you exercise, your pulse gets faster and faster, moving through different heart rate zones. First it enters a fat-burning zone, then it goes into a more intense cardio zone, and ultimately it gets into a peak zone, which happens when you’re going all out.

Knowing which zone your heart rate is in throughout your workout helps ensure you’re exercising at the right intensity for your specific goals. Fitbit devices with PurePulse not only show your real-time heart rate and heart rate zones during exercise, but afterwards, you’ll also be able to see a heart rate-based summary of your workout in the Fitbit app. Get in the zone: How to Burn Fat Fast with Target Heart Rate Training.

Goal: Heart Health
Try This Heart-Rate Powered Feature: Resting heart rate

Resting heart rate in the Fitbit app

How it helps: A lot of heart rate monitors tend to get worn solely during exercise. And while that’s useful (see above!), it can also be helpful to track something called resting heart rate (your pulse at rest). If you’re active and not taking a beta blocker, having an average resting heart rate that’s on the lower side tends to mean you’re fit and that your ticker is humming along efficiently.

Many Fitbit devices let you see your resting heart rate right on your wrist, but you can also view your resting heart rate trends week by week and month by month in the Fitbit app. By keeping an eye on this statistic over time, you’ll be able to see whether or not all your work at the gym is impacting your overall heart health. Learn 5 More Things Your Resting Heart Rate Can Tell You About Your Health.

Goal: Overall Fitness
Try This Heart-Rate Powered Feature: Cardio fitness score

Cardio Fitness Score in the Fitbit app

How it helps: It can be tough to figure out how fit you really are—and if your fitness level is where it should be. But if you use a Fitbit device with continuous heart rate and connected GPS or GPS capability, Fitbit can estimate your VO2 Max, a measure of fitness based on how well your body uses oxygen during strenuous exercise. In the app, this is referred to as your Cardio Fitness Score.

Fitbit can calculate your Cardio Fitness Score in two ways. The default method is based on your resting heart rate, age, gender, weight, and other personal information and will show your Cardio Fitness Score as being within a range (i.e. 42-46). To get a more precise cardio fitness estimate, use the exercise app to track a 10-minute (or longer) run on a flat course with GPS.

Once Fitbit has determined your Cardio Fitness Score, it will calculate your Cardio Fitness Level, which places your score into one of five ranges—Poor, Fair, Average, Good, Very Good, or Excellent—to demonstrate how your aerobic fitness compares to other people of the same age range and gender. Learn 5 More Big Reasons to Improve Your Cardio Fitness Score and How to Boost Your Score.

Goal: Stress Management
Try This Heart-Rate Powered Feature: Relax

Relax on Fitbit Charge 3

How it helps: You know how your heart can race when you feel stressed out? When you use the Relax app, your PurePulse-enable device will guide you through a two- or five-minute deep-breathing session based on your current heart rate. Sixty-seven percent of people who use Relax experience a decrease in heart rate, according to Fitbit data. Separate research also shows that deep breathing for just 30 seconds can help lower blood pressure and heart rate. Five minutes not long enough? Take relaxation to the next level with this 10-Minute Relaxation Technique for Total-Body Calm.

Goal: Better Sleep
Try This Heart-Rate Powered Feature: Sleep Stages

Sleep Stages in the Fitbit app

How it helps: As your body goes through the different sleep stages at night—light, deep, and REM—your heart beats at different speeds. This data, combined with how much you’re moving, helps Fitbit estimate how long you’ve spent in each sleep cycle, as well as how restless you were and your total time spent asleep. Notice you aren’t feeling rested? Check your stats and see if there might be a connection between how much deep sleep you got and when you exercised or how much wine you had with dinner. For more information, read REM, Light, Deep: How Much of Each Stage of Sleep Are You Getting?

To shop Fitbit devices with PurePulse continuous heart rate technology, visit the Fitbit store.

50 Comments   Join the Conversation

50 CommentsLeave a comment

    • I put mine on the charger while I get ready for work in the morning, maybe 30 minutes of charging and I’m good for a couple of days. I don’t understand how the charge doesn’t last for some when mine works great.

  • I am monitoring my HR 24 hr 7/7 for medical reasons. I am really happy to wear such a reliable device continously. My cardiologist is happy too because my HR during exercise and rest is an important control factor in my life.

  • Yes but if the tracker is producing garbage ie double HR beat and thereby increased calorie burn as my Versa is, and Fitbit know this is a problem and don’t appear to want to do anything about it, then all the features become meaningless.

    • I have an issue with inaccurate heart rates on my versa too. My versa says 120 when it actually is 150+ when I take it manually and with a chest strap.

  • I have had a charge and a charge 2 and like the sleep and average heart rate functions but my experience is that neither device was manufactured with a strong enough wrist band for 24-hour wear. We all know about the charge hr problems (all of my friends had the same problem as I did with the strap) but my charge 2 strap has recently broken also!!

  • “will show your Cardio Fitness Score as being within a range (i.e. 42-46)”. Shouldn’t that be e.g. and not i.e.? Pedant’s point perhaps …

  • This would be useful if the data were reliable. However, I was relying on my Fitbit Charge 2 to control my maximum heart rate. My cardiologist did not believe the data, so I wore a monitor for 24 hours. My Fitbit said I had had 3 heart rate spike up to 170+ bpm, but according to my monitor, my maximum observed heart rate was 109. So, I no longer rely on Fitbit to provide me with accurate heart rate info.

  • I am a little concerned about something. Maybe you guys can help me out. What does it mean when the heart monitor has a broken line? I am concerned because I have AFib and I do not know if that means my heart stops or it is just with the monitor itself. I had a heart ablation done in October 2017. Hoping this is not anything. Hope to hear some input on this. Thanks

    • As someone who discovered they were in AFIB because of my Fitbit, I would caution you to pay close attention to your heart rate. If you see what you described you should physically test your pulse and see if it feels like a consistent pulse. If that is an issue many blood pressure testers you can buy from Walgreens will tell you if you have an Irregular heartbeat. You should then immediately go. I went through 4 bouts of AFIB all caught using my Fitbit Blaze. I could see very obvious points when I would go into AFIB because my heart looked like a California Earthquake. I would say when in doubt go in for a quick EKG!

  • I have a problem with the number of “steps” my FitBit records. When I play golf, I use a golf cart, and although I tend to walk a lot during an average round, my FitBit scores me in the 10,000 range, and higher. I may have covered the distance, but I was riding a good bit of the time. I read where people who rode bikes over rough surfaces had the same questions.

    • I’ve had the same thing – I think the Fitbit counts the bumps of the cart ride as steps – I also have “extra” steps when playing the piano.

    • I recently did yard work-using clippers to cut down a lot of foliage. I had more footsteps lodged than any other day since I have had my Fitbit. I think that, every time I moved my hands to cut the foliage, the Fitbit registered a step.

  • I had a Charge HR that stopped working after about 18 months, I think because I wore it when working and moisture from sweat must have killed it. Now I have a Charge2 that shows my heart rate but I have never had it show me my sleep stages, only sleep, restless and awake. I have tried all the suggestions to have it get a good heart rate reading during sleep to no avail. Anyone else have this problem or a solution?

  • I haven’t been able to get a consistent heart rate for weeks. I even bought a new Fitbit thinking it was because of my old device. I first noticed it based on not getting the detailed sleep results. I’ve never had a problem before now. It’s always been consistent. Did you change something?

  • I purchased a Fitbit Blaze in 2016. Will this app work on my Fitbit? Or will I need to upgrade to a newer version? Also, the two buttons on my Blaze’s right side don’t and never have worked. The button on the left doesn’t work. I took it into Best buy where I purchased it and they said it was more than a year old so it was out of warranty. Will they ever make a fitbit that recharges itself. I had a watch back in the 1950’s that could do that, it the 60’s I had a watch that had a calculator with buttons to do the calculating.

  • Have been logging food calories and heart rate for about a month. I’m 68 and I’m walking 5 to 6 miles every day. I don’t do weights or other exercise, just walk, with some hills involved. Have found that when I turn on the Workout option, advised by Fitbit as it uses GPS and is more accurate, that the heart rate measurements are WILDLY innacurate. The steps are more or less the same as without Workout. I have had heart stents placed and so it is important to me to keep tabs on my heart rate. I have learnt NOT to turn on Workout, then my heart rate measurements are much more accurate. Fitbit needs to take notice of this and change the algorithms that determine heart rate when the Workout option is turned on! Just saying ….

    • I have the same experience, either it blanks or peaks at 136- while my chest strap indicates as high as 185!

      Fitbit is not reliable for preventing overtraining

  • This all looks very nice, but I have recently bought a Polar strap because my Fitbit could not handle the heart beat changes during rowing on the rowing machine. It sometimes hit too high values and sometimes no value at all. So the overall values are no real representation anymore….

  • My Fitbit blaze gives me inflated heartbeat results by neatly a factor of 2 in the upper reaches. You need to provide a chest belt for better results.

  • The heart rate tracking actually helped discover my unknown heart condition. I had no clue my heart rate was abnormally high until I had a time while running when my body physically could not move anymore. Without my Fitbit Alta HR, I wouldn’t be allowed to still play collegiate athletics. I know when I’m in a safe zone or approaching a dangerous rate. I owe my life to this function.

  • Everyone’s Prime, Anaerobic and peak HR are different so there is no way for fitbit or anyone to know unless you do a metabolic test. I have gotten one done and I want to update my fitbit with the real information but it will not let me. I monitor it myself to loose weight.

  • It would be good if you listed the series of steps to get to these screens and data in the app. As mentioned I can’t do 24/7 for more than one day as the device needs to be charged. Is there a way two devices and be synched to the same account / user and added together?

  • This is hilarious…if only it worked..my heart rate on my versa has been off for so long that I am supposedly burning 5,000 calories a day! It has no idea if i am working out or just sleeping. This product is a joke.

  • Sometimes my watch will show my sleep stages and sometimes it will show my sleep times.How can I see my sleep stages all of the time.

  • I have Afib. My charge HR shows me in a round about way when I am in Afib by indicating I am in cardiac range, even though I am not exercising so I know it is Afib. My pulse goes way up which the Charge picks up.

    I heard Fitbit is going to come out with something foroicking up Afib. Hope this is true. Apple just announced the new watch which will show Afib and take an ECG.

  • What I have is a Fitbit Zip, I’m planning to get me an Ionic or at least a Charge 3 by Cyber Monday, but in the meantime if there’s any App that would record my heart rate and links to the Fitbit App or Syncs to Go365 please let me know.

    • I would like to know this too (the Charge 2 monitors heart rate – why couldn’t it monitor 24/7)? I had one Afib incident. If I have to get a new one, I will get an FDA/American Heart compliant/approved one.

    • I have the same beef with the article. My app, either on my phone or via my PC browser, doesn’t show all the features listed. I know it says it has to be a compatible device, but it would be helpful if the author listed them. I have a Charge 2, so I’d expect I have those features yet I can’t see them all.

  • I have found my Charge HR2 to be pretty inaccurate. I can be doing a 4 mile walk on the treadmill and it will say my heart rate is 170 (a manual check says it’s 120). Then, when I’m going all out – stairclimber, HR probably 140+, it reads 60 or is blank. Very frustrating and makes me not rest trust the data for any more than a rough estimate. Plus, all
    Fitbits break quickly. Intentional functional obsolescence, I think.

  • First of the information at the beginning is misleading and has been proven incorrect.
    “Anyone who wants to drop pounds knows it’s all about the calorie deficit: Your body needs to burn off more calories than you’re taking in.”
    So you can just binge on cheesecake, HFCS toxic sugary sodas, and just workout like crazy or count those calories. That is wrong! Dr. Robert Lustig M.D. and his lecture “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” explains all the chemistry and science to debunk this myth of weight-loss just being about calories in minus calories burned. One should minimize consumption processed foods. Anything that can last 6 months on a grocery shelf isn’t very good for you. Go with vegetables and fruits that haven’t been sprayed with toxic substances, also known as organic. Eat meat, chicken, fish that are wild caught, free range, and anti-biotic free. Sure it’s expensive so just eat meat, fish, chicken less often but when you do eat it, go top shelf! Avoid corporate made junk food created to make some owner wealthy, you really think he gives a rats ass what he sells you, hopefully it’s not a rats ass.. Good luck!

  • jeez call customer service for fitbit, they are excellent. But this comment section is not the place to place your warranty claim. Because yeah, my fitbit charge HR won’t sync and the time is wrong. I try to connect to the app and it can get as far as typing in the 4 digit code then it stops working.
    Therefore, the time is wrong, can’t sync, and I feel ripped off that the app is no longer supporting fitbit charge hr I spent $150. Last time I waste money on these trackers…

  • I bought a fit bit to track my heart beat without a chest strap. I did not think it was accurate. I wore it at the same time as my Garmin heart rate monitor to test it. I did this twice. My Garmin would track my heart rate when I was exercising at about 150 heart beats but the fit bit stayed around 124. I knew I was above 124. Is there anything I can do about this. Fitbit is not cheap. I feel I wasted my money.

  • I’ve owned a Charge 2 for a number of years and it has never accurately tracked HR during intense exercise (running /treadmill). I’ve tried all of the recommended fixes and it just shuts down as soon as I start to sweat, so I use a blue tooth chest strap instead. I know that I’m not alone in this issue from reading comments in the community section of Fitbit.com.

  • I don’t have a smart phone and get all Fitbit info from my computer (Windows 7). Can I get most of the Fitbit features on my computer?

  • I’m looking for a gift for my daughter who works in a doctor’s office and needs a watch with a second hand. Does fitbit have one?

  • Just a question on the Fitbit… do you ever get the circle around the ❤️ as the “fat burn” even though you have been sitting down for hours ….? Even at 64 or 68 or 71 BPM, it shows ‘fat burn’ even I am lying on the couch ?!?!
    I normally get that circle only when I am working out and it shows the zone of ‘fat burn’ and the ‘cardio’ …. Yesterday, as well as today, it seems wrong?
    Or maybe I should Worry? It shows that I am in the fat burn for 16 hours!?!?
    I have the Fitbit since May and this is something that happened yesterday and today.
    Thanks

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