International Journal of Exercise Science 11(7): 533-540, 2018. People use their smartphones for everything from web browsing to tracking fitness metrics. However, it is unclear whether smartphone-based apps that use photoplethysmography to measure heart rate are an accurate or valid measure of exercise intensity. Purpose was to determine the accuracy and validity of two iOS-based heart rate monitors, Runtastic Heart Rate Monitor and Pulse Tracker PRO by Runtastic (Runtastic) and Instant Heart Rate+: Heart Rate and Pulse Monitor by Azumio (Instant Heart Rate), when compared to the electrocardiogram (ECG) and Polar® T31 uncoded heart rate monitor from moderate to vigorous intensity exercise. Participants were 15 male and female regularly active college students. Pre-exercise heart rate and blood pressure were recorded and then participants exercised on a stationary bike at a pedal rate of between 50-60 rpms. After completing a warm-up stage at 40% of age estimated maximum heart rate (AEMHR), exercise intensity progressed from 50% of AEMHR through to 85% of AEMHR in eight, 5-minute stages. At the end of each stage, and having achieved steady-state, heart rates were recorded from each apparatus. After completing the final stage, participants completed a cooldown at 40% of their AEMHR. Post-exercise heart rate and blood pressure were also recorded to ensure full recovery to baseline. There was a strong positive correlation between the Polar® monitor and the ECG during all stages. However, there were not strong correlations for either of the smartphone-based apps at any time point. Although there were weak correlations between the smartphone-based apps and ECG and Polar®, further studies need to be conducted to determine if inaccuracy is due to user error (finger placement, finger temperature, etc.) or the technology behind the apps.

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