Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Suunto Duel: Chest vs. Wrist Heart Rate

Word on the trail is that a GPS watch tracking heart rate with a chest strap is more accurate than one utilizing a wrist sensor. Bethany and I decided to test this. I have a Suunto Ambit3 Sport with a chest strap HR sensor and she has a Suunto Spartan Trainer with wrist HR. We also have a noticeable difference in our average heart rates when running. We had been unsure if the HR variance between us was real or if it was a chest versus wrist accuracy issue. Tonight our simple test was to switch watches and see how true to our typical heart rates we would each average wearing each other's watches.

My runs in the two weeks leading up to our switcheroo run had an average heart rate of 142 bpm while Bethany's runs in the same period averaged 166 bpm. Wearing my Ambit3 Sport Bethany averaged 165 bpm tonight and I averaged 152 bpm wearing her Spartan Trainer. While too small a sample to have statistical significance we feel it validated that Bethany's higher HR is accurate and not falsely created by a wrist versus chest reading.

Our experiment answered our initial question, but created many more questions about heart rate. Bethany is able to run faster while able to easily carry on conversation. Meanwhile I get out of breathe more easily and cannot maintain her speed, yet my heart rate stays lower throughout. We want to understand this area next. What is the interplay between heart rate, ease of breathing, and speed? Stay tuned for additional installments of the engineer and the accountant pretending to be sports scientists. We have much more to learn and self made experiments are a fun addition to internet research :)
Bethany wearing my Ambit3 Sport.
Me wearing Bethany's Spartan Trainer.

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