Measurement of Heart Rate using the Polar OH1® and Fitbit Charge 3® Wearable Devices in Healthy Adults during Light, Moderate, Vigorous and Sprint-Based Exercise: Validation Study

David Muggeridge, Kirsty Hickson, Aimie Davies, Oonagh Giggins, Ian Megson, Trish Gorely, Daniel R Crabtree

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
89 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Accurate, continuous heart rate measurements are important for health assessment, physical activity, and sporting performance, and the integration of heart rate measurements into wearable devices has extended its accessibility. Although the use of photoplethysmography technology is not new, the available data relating to the validity of measurement are limited, and the range of activities being performed is often restricted to one exercise domain and/or limited intensities. Objective: The primary objective of this study was to assess the validity of the Polar OH1 and Fitbit Charge 3 devices for measuring heart rate during rest, light, moderate, vigorous, and sprint-type exercise. Methods: A total of 20 healthy adults (9 female; height: mean 1.73 [SD 0.1] m; body mass: mean 71.6 [SD 11.0] kg; and age: mean 40 [SD 10] years) volunteered and provided written informed consent to participate in the study consisting of 2 trials. Trial 1 was split into 3 components: 15-minute sedentary activities, 10-minute cycling on a bicycle ergometer, and incremental exercise test to exhaustion on a motorized treadmill (18-42 minutes). Trial 2 was split into 2 components: 4 × 15-second maximal sprints on a cycle ergometer and 4 × 30- to 50-m sprints on a nonmotorized resistance treadmill. Data from the 3 devices were time-aligned, and the validity of Polar OH1 and Fitbit Charge 3 was assessed against Polar H10 (criterion device). Validity was evaluated using the Bland and Altman analysis, Pearson moment correlation coefficient, and mean absolute percentage error. Results: Overall, there was a very good correlation between the Polar OH1 and Polar H10 devices (r=0.95), with a mean bias of −1 beats·min-1 and limits of agreement of −20 to 19 beats·min-1 . The Fitbit Charge 3 device underestimated heart rate by 7 beats·min-1 compared with Polar H10, with a limit of agreement of −46 to 33 beats·min-1 and poor correlation (r=0.8). The mean absolute percentage error for both devices was deemed acceptable (<5%). Polar OH1 performed well across each phase of trial 1; however, validity was worse for trial 2 activities. Fitbit Charge 3 performed well only during rest and nonsprint-based treadmill activities. Conclusions: Compared with our criterion device, Polar OH1 was accurate at assessing heart rate, but the accuracy of Fitbit Charge 3 was generally poor. Polar OH1 performed worse during trial 2 compared with the activities in trial 1, and the validity of the Fitbit Charge 3 device was particularly poor during our cycling exercises.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere25313
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2021


  • Heart rate
  • photoplethysmography
  • wearable electronic devices
  • validation study
  • exercise
  • mobile phone


Dive into the research topics of 'Measurement of Heart Rate using the Polar OH1® and Fitbit Charge 3® Wearable Devices in Healthy Adults during Light, Moderate, Vigorous and Sprint-Based Exercise: Validation Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this