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Inaccurate HR during exercise

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I've only owned the Fitbit Alta HR about a week, and I am very frustrated with the exercise tracking and HR readings. I workout with cardio bootcamp and HIIT styles at home, exercises that get my HR well over 140 bpm and my Fitbit rarely gives me a reading above 120 bpm. I've never actually been in the cardio heart rate zone according to Fitbit. Am I doing something wrong? I wear it on my dominant wrist, all the settings are selected correctly. I've tried tightening the strap and moving it up my arm. I've reset it several times. I am disappointed, I love everything else about it, and its seems very accurate during resting and light activity, but the reason I got it was to help track my exercises. Most of the time I even have to go back in the app and edit the start and stop time, or even add the exercise because it didn't recognize it at all. Is the Fitbit Charge 2 better at reading HR? I imagine they use the same technology?

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Hi @kes0517,

 

The Alta HR and Charge 2 both use the Pure Pulse technology. I own both models and they read heart rate the same (I can get to 175 bpm on both). The Charge 2 has a little advantage in that it makes it easy to manually start and stop the exercise on the tracker itself instead of editing the times later. The Alta HR's battery lasts longer and is more sleek.

I also do HIIT, and find wrist-based trackers (fitbit or otherwise), can have a little trouble with very rapid heart rate changes, as you might find in Tabata-style HIIT. Usually, this is because the tracker isn't tight enough, but you mentioned you've already done this.

Heavy sweat can also cause heart rate reading fluctuations. I wear a sweat wristband above the tracker, which helps soak up sweat that can interfere with the readings. Hope this helps a little.

Dave | California

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18 REPLIES

Hi @kes0517,

 

The Alta HR and Charge 2 both use the Pure Pulse technology. I own both models and they read heart rate the same (I can get to 175 bpm on both). The Charge 2 has a little advantage in that it makes it easy to manually start and stop the exercise on the tracker itself instead of editing the times later. The Alta HR's battery lasts longer and is more sleek.

I also do HIIT, and find wrist-based trackers (fitbit or otherwise), can have a little trouble with very rapid heart rate changes, as you might find in Tabata-style HIIT. Usually, this is because the tracker isn't tight enough, but you mentioned you've already done this.

Heavy sweat can also cause heart rate reading fluctuations. I wear a sweat wristband above the tracker, which helps soak up sweat that can interfere with the readings. Hope this helps a little.

Dave | California

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Thanks for the reply! That makes total sense. Well, in the end I think I had a defective Alta HR because I ended up returning it and replacing with the Charge 2 and my exercise HR was flawless and very accurate during the same type of workout. I am happy with the decision!

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hey @kes0517 - i'm having the same exact problem as you explained in your original post. I'm a Jazzercise instructor (lots of aerobic and HiiT workouts) and have used Polar and Garmin HR tracking technology for over 10 years. I have a solid understanding of my max HR & average calorie burn during workouts and ever since using my new FitBit Alta HR my max HR is reading as significantly lower than it should. When I'm working at my max the HR monitor only registers around 120-130bpm whereas it should be 170-180. I'm very frustrated because as you mentioned, you love almost everything else about this watch. My question to you is how did you know that you had a defective monitor and what process did you go through to return it? Thanks in advance for your reply!

-Kristen

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Why on earth is this marked as solved? The only reason it's solved is because the original poster changed the product.

I've just got an Alta HR and am having the exact same issue - it's not tracking my HIIT sessions where my heart is absolutely pounding. 

 

Helpful to know that you've changed to the Charge HR and it's working well - I guess I'll end up doing the same. Doesn't resolve the fact that the Alta HR isn't working as it should, and it's expensive enough that it should be! I feel immediately disenchanted with the fitbit brand and I was so excited to get one. 

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Solved means the INITIAL poster's problem is solved.  And it is. If you want to start a new topic you can, but as you tagged on the end of an older topic then you have no say in whether the posters problem is solved or not.

HIIT is NOT recognised by Smart Track so the Alta HR can't recognise it. Yes, your heart rate is up, but the other criteria for the Alta HR to recognise one of the smart track activities are not being met, so it cant recognise it. It is not defective - it is acting as you would expect an Alta HR to act. If you want to have a manual activity start and stop (as the original poster did) then you need a tracker that has that function (like a charge 2).

Alta HR is clearly advertised as using Smart Track.  Perhaps you didnt do your homework first? In any case, as Fitbit has a 45 day return policy, you can return it and get what you really wanted.

Community Council Member

Helen I Western Australia

Android, Versa, Ionic, AltaHR, Flex2, Aria 2

Be sure to visit Fitbit help if more assistance is needed.

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Thanks for your reply Nelly. To the OP Kes, sorry no offence intended, I didn't realise it was the poster that chose whether the issue had been resolved and I'm really happy you managed to find the product that worked for you! 

 

Nelly I'm not sure the rude tone was totally necessary but thanks again for advising that the Charge 2 might be a better fit for what I'm looking for. I got my Alta as a gift so maybe I should pass on the message that they didn't do their homework? Given that I try my best to have good manners though, safe to say I won't. Cheers for making a newbie like me feel quickly welcome and part of the friendly and supportive Fitbit fam. Keep up the good work 😘

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Just to be clear; the issue is not with the Smart Track function, it's with overall inaccurate HR detection during HiiT and dance-aerobic exercises. I spent an evening chatting with FitBit customer service one night about their PurePulse technology and its limitations with vigorous wrist movement. My conclusion after this chat, significant research, and several attempts to increase accuracy during my classes, is that FitBit isn't the best HR monitor to track my workouts. It works exceptionally well for other day to day functions and tracking step, exercise and sleep goals, however I'll continue to stand behind the chest strap technologies from companies such as Garmin and Polar. 

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@dorrie.m you are welcome

@kybartle I agree with you that a chest band is a much more accurate Heart rate monitor, but is not so convenient and easy. But if accuracy is very important then I would go with a chest strap, especially during heavy exercise.

Community Council Member

Helen I Western Australia

Android, Versa, Ionic, AltaHR, Flex2, Aria 2

Be sure to visit Fitbit help if more assistance is needed.

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I had issues with my Alta HR drastically underestimating my heart rate. Now when I workout I take the wrist straps off and put it in my sports bra with the sensor against my skin. Problem solved! I just put it on the outer part of my boob where it doesn’t get sweaty.

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I use my Alta HR while road cycling and it reads low in comparison to a chest strap heart rate monitor which I use with a cycling 'computer. The Alta HR understates peak heart rate by 30-40 bpm.

It does a decent job to identifying the start and end of the activity but the hr info is useless. 

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@75goats I also find my HR reading using the Alta HR to be low when I am cycling but I cant offer any advice really as I dont have anything that works. I now have an Ionic and find its HR on the bike much more realistic.

Community Council Member

Helen I Western Australia

Android, Versa, Ionic, AltaHR, Flex2, Aria 2

Be sure to visit Fitbit help if more assistance is needed.

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Hi @kybartle Jazzercise is my main form of exercise. I was really excited to add the FB HR to my routine to track my heart rate but am very frustrated as it is all over the place. Did you give up on using it or did you find a strategy to have it record your HR during class? I have tried moving the band, tightening, etc and one minute I'm at 165 and the next at 110. I have also experimented with it on my elliptical and get a more accurate count. 

 

Thanks! Erica

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Hi @kybartle Jazzercise is my main form of exercise. I was really excited to add the FB Alta HR to my routine to track my heart rate but am very frustrated as it is all over the place. Did you give up on using it or did you find a strategy to have it record your HR during class? I have tried moving the band, tightening, etc and one minute I'm at 165 and the next at 110. I have also experimented with it on my elliptical and get a more accurate count. 

 

Thanks! Erica

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I detach the straps and put it in my sports bra. Looking at the app on my phone, my heart rate matches what the elliptical tells me I’m at. I do this for biking now too because I had so much trouble with the Fitbit not picking up my heart beat at all.

Sent from my iPhone
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hey @Ejs08096 - did you read my second post in this thread? After much research, trial and error and chatting with a FitBit customer service rep, I just had to accept that the AltaHR was not the right tracker for my Jazzercise workouts. I already had an old Garmin vivofit2 so I just started wearing that again exclusively during my jazzercise workouts. It's unfortunate, but until the wrist reading technology changes on these devices, I don't foresee this watch as being a reliable HR monitor for Jazzercise. Best wishes!

-k

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Inventive solution @Elle81! I'll certainly give it a try, though it's unfortunate that you won't be able to see your HR during your workouts using this method, seeing as the device is tucked away Smiley Wink

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Great idea! Thanks!

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I have returned my FitBit Alta HR because of its inaccuracies and have bought a Polar chest monitor.  For a standard stair climbing session, this is what the HR profile looks like on the Polar Beat app:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/8rvqi9jksozv46b/2018-05-27%2011.02.07.png?dl=0

On the FitBit it looks like this:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/at6slbtw9t14yk5/Screen%20Shot%202018-05-24%20at%2011.17.08%20AM.png?dl=0

 

I suspect that it is the averaging algorithm that is at fault.  FitBit should use a running median algorithm to cancel out the wild outliers.

...Alan

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